When you’re involving a Property Manager to manage a property interest it’s key to make sure this is on the right basis from day one. Whether you’re a direct landlord or a communal management company, and it is either an internal post to fulfil this on an appointed managing agent – the basic duties and responsibilities are the same.
Even between different property types, whether a simple let house or a complex commercial scheme, you will still come across the basics of what a property manager needs to actually do. The detail will of course change, but the basics still count.
Here then are some of these key factors to the right Property Manager’s job description. This is based upon the UK property market and a pure property management role, but with references to duties that can be classed as extras in other scenarios.
A typical example is how involved a property manager becomes with first securing a new tenant, something that is typically done by a separate letting agent’s role although sometimes included within a property manager’s remit.
The Beginning & The End
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of what a Property Manager actually does, if you’re preparing a formal job description for, say, an advertisement or employment contract, then also note what tends to occur right at the very beginning and end of this. You’ll probably recognise these as they’re typical with all other kinds of job descriptions.
So at the beginning there is often an introduction as to the context of this role. Maybe an overview of the business this role will be part of or types of clients and properties that will be managed, and maybe even a steer on how the post has come about, maybe from rapid growth and new properties to manage as opposed to just replacing a vacant post.
Also, don’t forget the actual job title and what this broadly means, so for example a Senior Property Manager, a full or part-time basis, and whether a specific Residential or Commercial Property manager remit.
And right at the end can be a wrap-up summary of the post, with detail like deadlines for acceptance and who to contact for more information. If part of an existing employment then points of review and training.
The Property Manager’s Duties and Responsibilities
Now we come to the main factors about what a property manager actually needs to do:
The fundamental part is collection of rent for those with tenants. This is the vast majority of cases for managing properties, although you can have scenarios where the property is vacant, or the owner actually occupies the property and there is no landlord-tenant situation, or you have long lease situations with no or little ground or peppercorn rent to deal with.
There’s also the little extras on top, like interest and late payment fees, and initial rent deposits being correctly held and then released.
If there are any prescribed changes to this rent as per the lease then this needs noting, for example fixed uplifts, but often any re-valued rents at a rent review or new letting often need a separate agreement or different role.
2. Credit Control
This deals with non-payments of monies by tenants, mainly the rent as above but this can be other sums like service charge and one-off costs.
There should be a clear routine for dealing with these, from gentle chasing and standard letters, to formal instruction of solicitors and other agents. At this stage the property manager needs to coordinate with, say, the client and legal advisors rather than necessarily complete themselves, and with the client being clear on what extra costs are incurred.
3. New Lettings
This is a grey area, as the actual sourcing of new tenants right from marketing, to viewings and negotiations, to then final checks and documentation, is often done in a separate letting- or sales-agent capacity. However this may well fall within this particular property manager’s remit, so get this agreed and clarified.
Even if they are not involved, it’s important for Property Managers to work alongside the person who is doing these new lettings to help with property-management detail like the property condition and utility accounts. They will also need to help set-up any new tenants on the management side, for example loading on the accounts system, initial communication and welcome packs, and making sure they commence the right occupation.
Also, even if you have an existing tenant continuing at the property, there may well be a formal lease renewals to agree, sometimes agreed as an extra bolt-on cost and service.
4. Occupier Movements
This covers those situations where there is a change of occupier, often at the end or beginning of a new lease and tenancy.
So this might include taking a detailed inventory or schedule of condition with meter reads at the start, and checking the condition and what’s left at the end, but as with new lettings above, be clear if any of this falls within a separate letting agents remit. There may also be other services to arrange such as cleaning and any general repairs.
In other situations it may not be amicable, for example eviction of tenants from arrears and lease-breach issues (all through the correct legal procedures of course), or in other cases authorising any changes mid-term for example new subtenants or even assigning over the whole lease.
5. Occupier Behaviour
Even when you have occupiers continuing at a property, by the nature of managing the property interest longer term, a property manager needs to make sure occupiers behave themselves during this time.
This can be both reactive issues such as dealing with emergencies and tenant requests, but also more pro-active by making sure they comply with lease clauses and don’t cause a nuisance to other people or damage to the property.
You may also have procedures to deal with complaints or requests, not only for occupiers but other people’s interests that will need adherence to and action from.
6. Property Inspections
A classic service of a property manager, to regularly view and inspect a property, however make sure it’s clear on what this is for and how often it needs to be completed.
So as well as key events like new occupiers, bog-standard monthly visits may be specified, and then being clear on what action is taken afterwards. This may require communicating inspection reports, and then liaising with others like tenants and contractors to then deal with any issues noted.
7. Maintenance & Repairs
Again, another classic property-management service, makings sure that the building is correctly repaired and maintained.
In reality though this covers a wide range of issues that you need to specify within a Property Manager’s job description. So are there certain levels and types of repairs that they can do automatically, as opposed to needing approval from others? And must they adhere to certain procedures and contractor-vetting schemes, and what is the tendering process for, say, new regular services like cleaning (plus additional issues like serving Section 20 notices for long leasehold residential owners)?
For larger jobs, be clear where other specialists take over, for example building surveyors or contractors direct.
On the other extreme, clarify what day-to-day issues like handyman repairs need accomplishing and in what timescale.
This mainly affects the fabric of the building as above, through things like Health & Safety and Fire Risk Assessments, but as a property manager this often entails a wider overseeing role and making sure people-procedures are in place rather than just plain old building works.
So specify that they need to oversee such assessments and others such as contractor compliance, which will involve co-ordinating with others a lot rather than necessarily doing directly themselves.
9. Non-Rent Monies
Although rent is king, other fees can be still pivotal behind the scenes. And of course a Property Manager is often the role to be managing this.
A classic one is service charges, with a whole area of suitable compliance, accountability, and provision of services.
Another is taxes, and dealing with any unusual client situations like being based abroad.
10. Involving Other People
It’s obvious of course, but worth stating the boundaries for them working alongside others, whether directly or within regular communication.
So other similar roles may be asset or facilities management, or external professionals and agencies such as solicitors and letting agents.
Plus don’t forget regular updates and good dialogue and communication with tenants and client landlords.
11. Record Keeping
This is important anyway with a job role, but particularly so with property management when you’re dealing with a whole array of data and documentation from a variety of sources.
This has become more online and ‘in the cloud’, but paper files and information on site is still important.
Whatever it is, specify how it is kept and within whatever parameter and time frames.
12. Rules & Regulations
This tends to cover other areas already mentioned, for example compliance and liaising with people interests.
It’s worth stating though as a definite duty of a Property Manager, ideally drilling-down into any specific areas of concern which may vary with different posts, for example reduced contractor involvement if there is a separate facilities management post, or accounting work if a good strong accounting support.
13. Effective Reporting
This is key to then communicate all the key issues and performance-results from managing properties. Even if a Property Manager is not directly involved with literally producing them, for example standard accounts and financial summaries from an accountant and computer system, they still need to have the skill and ability to present in the correct way and time and then explain in often layman-terms what this means.
It may also involve more narrative and general client updates, and more technical ones reporting on financial variances to budget figures.
14. Little Extras
A final point is including little extra services, sometimes part-and-parcel of property management, others not so much.
A good example is building insurance, whether that’s just recharging a premium, or being involved with claims and insurer’s requirements. Arranging insurance is more involved and often needing a property management company to be accredited to do so.
The Property Manager’s Personal Traits
Once you have the above to-do list sorted, here are a few pointers for deciding the sort of person and personality to fit the property management post.
1. Organisation & Time Management
An absolute must, on all levels. One of the worst situations is where more deal-driven letting or sales agents who are not necessarily as skilled on this side try to then get into property management for whatever reasons.
There will always be lots of ongoing issues, with endless reactive problems pushing for your time, and proactive plans being placed on the back burner, therefore balancing all this correctly is essential.
2. People & Customer Focused
Property is after all a people game, and being able to relate at all levels is therefore important. Of particular interest is dealings with tenants and occupiers, which can involve trivial day-to-day issues that a good Property Manager needs to often keep a cool head about.
3. Good Experience
Of course this is ideal for a lot of jobs, someone who has just the right experience to hit the ground running and get going.
Because property management is often a hidden skill-set with not so many formal qualification routes, then this can be particularly important with limited resources for training and monitoring.
4. Autonomous Within a Team
There often needs a fine balance between on one side being a good team player, but then on another being able to work independently and autonomously.
This can dovetail with technology to allow lone working and field-based roles, yet still being part of a team remotely and with regular interaction, after all there are many essential team aspects behind the scenes such as accounting.
5. Communication & Presentation
This can be on many levels, for example written reports or more people interactions and liaisons. Property Managers do tend to come across a wide variety of people and reporting needs, therefore being adaptable is key.
6. Diligence & Competence
A good level of detail will be needed for property management, with posts like letting and sales often needing more interpersonal and negotiation skills.
Therefore clearly state and mention this, and any more diligent character trait towards this.
7. Knowledge & Education
Having the know-how is important of course, often through certain qualifications and accreditations to property-management bodies, however this can often be suitably established through general experience and distance learning.
It may also be worth stating particular important aspects to the post, for example rules and regulations within a certain property class, and different angles to the post.
8. Computer Literate
This is more obvious in this day and age, although with property management you may need to specify certain types of accounts and databases that need special experience, and any unique method of filing and data storage.
9. Driving Licence
Of course Property Managers need to actually visit and inspect properties, therefore the necessity for a full, and maybe clean driving licence and access to car can be required, particularly when covering a large geographical area.
As part of the salary and package being offered, there may be a company car or car allowance being offered anyway which can be clarified.
10. Further Development
This is more afterwards with the onus being on the employer; the ability, desire, and support for further career development. This may be personal learning and continued professional development, or more corporate facilities and training.
The Right Property Manager’s Post
As you look to shape a job specification for a Property Manager, the above duties and responsibilities and then personal traits will help narrow this down. If you need to formally present this for a job advert or existing post, then with a introduction and ending you can soon have this polished off.
The key to making this really great though is to make sure that it matches reality, and not just an off-the-shelf list. You need to go through each element and drill-down to see if this firstly even applies to your property interest, and secondly if it does then how this is best clarified within this Property Manager’s remit or in another similar one, for example a letting agent or more facilities or contracts manager.
It’s then reflecting reality. All the right elements of your property will be covered to provide the best service and value, and everyone will save on confusion and frustration later on of this not being correct.
We have a checklist available here outlining all these in a quick summary to help you rattle through these. Also, we have a training video below of these being explained in order to help fully appreciate everything being covered.
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