Questions to Ask A Property Manager

Do they answer the phones live or will you always have to leave a voice mail and wait for someone to call you back?

Licensed property managers answer our phones Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Do they have the technology for you to see, at any time, your financial reports, service requests, etc?

MPM has invested in web technology which gives our owners access to their rental income, expenses, work orders, and custom reports 24/7. This allows us to provide our owners with answers, even when we are out of the office.

Do they actually visit the properties they manage?

We proactively inspect every property we manage. This includes exterior inspections at least once per quarter, annual interior inspections, and interior inspections through scheduled maintenance. Our annual interior inspection is considered when determining whether or not a tenant is eligible to renew their Lease Agreement. Please understand that while we cannot control how a tenant lives at the property, we can control the screening process prior to their moving in and use available legal procedures upon moving out.

Most tenants do not destroy/damage the property unless something goes wrong during their lease term. When a tenant doesn’t pay and we have to go through the eviction process is when we find that tenant damage is the worst. Most tenants hope to get their security deposit back and follow our detailed, Helpful Move Out Guide, to ensure the return of their deposit. With a successful lease term, most tenants receive a full or the majority of their deposit refund because they’ve followed our vacating instructions. They leave the property in a clean, rent-ready condition, with less normal wear and tear, which means fewer turnkey costs for our owners.

Are there multiple people in the office who can help answer a question? What is the turnover rate for staff?

While each of our staff has primary responsibility for a function in our office, we cross-train to provide better service to our tenants and owners. In addition, we communicate daily about outstanding items so that at any given time, someone can typically assist you, prospective tenants, and current tenants with any questions.

When something arises that can not be immediately handled, we have a policy to address non-emergency issues within 24 hours.

The average tenure of our management staff is over 4 years and 10+ years for our Executive Team due to our ability to attract and invest in quality people. Our low turnover rate allows us to provide a better experience for our owners and tenants.

Do they have licensed agents for staff, capable of providing guidance and advice about your rental property, rental market and the real estate market in general?

With the exception of our administrative staff, all employees are licensed property managers and members of NARPM (National Association of
Residential Property Managers). NARPM is a professional organization that promotes education, designations, and networking as a resource to empower its members with knowledge and skill. A NARPM member honors and subscribes to a Code of Ethics and Standards of Professionalism, and commits to the professional and ethical practice of property management.

The NARPM designations have stringent requirements for education, experience, and service. It takes many years of hard work to meet these requirements. Our staff travel and attend NARPM Conventions and NARPM Conferences to seek additional education.

Do they carry adequate Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O), Liability Insurance, and Worker’s Compensation Insurance, to protect you?

It is important to ask if the company you are considering has the proper E&O insurance. There are only a very limited number of insurance companies that will underwrite insurance for property management due to the liability and
risk involved.

We have employees and pay workman’s compensation for ALL our staff, to protect YOU! We also carry liability insurance so we have the protection required to deal with any issue.

Do they require that you have the property insurance to protect yourself?

This is such an important area for owners of investment properties. We require that our owners have an adequate Landlord Insurance Policy that covers them as well as us for a minimum of $300,000 for liability. We
do this by asking to be listed as an Additional Insured on their policy so we can ensure the owners and MPM are adequately covered. Not all insurance companies will accept Additional Insured parties, so it is important to check with your insurance carrier prior to contracting with MPM. While $300,000 is the minimum amount, we certainly would encourage an owner to look into an umbrella policy as well as increase the limits above that for added protection. A million-dollar umbrella policy is relatively inexpensive. We can recommend an insurance agent, should you need one.

How do they handle non-emergency repairs? Are they using reliable vendors with proper licensing and insurance (including workman’s comp)? Do they have a system in place to make sure their vendors insurance is up to date and current?

Maintenance is the second most expensive part of owning investment in the property, just over vacancy, and we understand the need to keep this cost down. We use our bulk buying power to get repairs done as cost-effectively and quickly as possible while making sure our owners and MPM is protected.

We work with reliable contractors who have been in the business for many years and have the proper licensing issued by The state of Montana and proper insurance including general liability, auto liability, and workman’s compensation. We review and evaluate the insurance and licenses of our vendors on a regular basis to make sure we are covered too.

What are their thoughts on privacy for owner and tenants?

We believe this is one of the most valuable reasons to have a property management company—anonymity. People can’t sue you if they don’t know who you are or how to reach you. To protect you, the tenant, and MPM, we take privacy laws seriously for tenants as well. We will not disclose any personal information about the tenant other than the names and number of occupants. Credit fraud is rampant, therefore we will not disclose a copy of the tenant’s application, credit report, or other information that could open the door for us or you to be accused in a lawsuit.

All our employees sign a non-disclosure agreement, and all internal vendors are accompanied throughout the building to ensure we safeguard this delicate information.

What criteria do they use for screening tenant applications?

We have developed a proprietary scoring system that evaluates each applicant on a wide variety of factors. These factors include income, length of employment, criminal background, and credit. Please notice that credit is only one factor in the equation. There are many tenants with poor or no credit, who have proven to be great tenants. We evaluate every situation as a whole and do not just focus on one dimension.

Our scoring system has taken many years to develop, test, and retest. It is one of the reasons we can be so confident in our ability to make quality tenant placements.

What methods are used to reduce the vacancy time period?

We understand that vacancy is an owner’s largest expense, and we do everything possible to minimize the length of time a property is vacant.

The primary reason a property doesn’t rent is that the rental rate is too high for the area or condition of the property. Our owners are provided a realistic market rental rate which we evaluate every two weeks.

We also employ a variety of marketing methods, which include being available to answer questions, having the home easily accessible for viewing, signage at the property, internet advertising, and a bi-weekly analysis of the rental rate and competition.

How and when are payments made to owners?

We pay our owners, via ACH, on the 20th and 1st of the month (or next business day) for rents received. This allows for bank checks to clear and for us to process payments through our system and get you paid. If a tenant pays late, you are paid as soon as funds are available.

Is their pricing inclusive or will you be “nickle and dimed”?

Our all-inclusive management fee means you aren’t charged for items pertaining to the professional management of your property. Everything is covered in our management fee.

Our competition may offer you a lower management fee. In these cases, please be aware of their other fees: charges to send violations, deal with HOA concerns, interior inspection fees, fees to send you an electronic disbursement, etc. These additional profit centers will cost you well in excess of any small percentage difference between our management fee and theirs.

Do they have a business license?

We have a business license with the City of Missoula and are registered with the Montana Board of Realty Regulations.

How many clients have they lost to a competitor and why?

Since we opened in 2003, MPM can proudly boast we have a 99.95% retention rate. The few owners who did change managers were gladly released from their contracts due to differences in management philosophy they were just not a good fit. We are very proud of our reputation in this area.

What happens when the tenant doesn’t pay?

When a tenant can’t pay their rent, it is not a good situation for anyone. Typically, the tenant doesn’t pay, not because they don’t want to, but because of something that has happened in their lives. Their situation has changed they lost a job, became ill, lost wages or hours had a death in the family, etc.

At MPM, when a tenant doesn’t pay, we first attempt to find out the reason. Is the issue something we can work around or not? We do this by following a proven system we developed that works in conjunction with the eviction process. If the tenant is responsive, we will make payment arrangements or negotiate a move-out.

When the tenant doesn’t respond, we start the eviction process to regain possession as quickly as possible. We have partnerships with attorneys and other professionals to make this as smooth, quick, and painless as possible.

Do they have a proven track record with references from other owners as well as from their tenants?

Our owners and tenants love us. Many of our tenants, several owners, and local real estate agents have repeatedly referred friends, family members, and colleagues to us—not only as tenants but also as property owners. We couldn’t ask for a better compliment than that of a referral.

Contact us for a FREE rental market analysis.