How to choose a property management company

Leanne, our head of property management, offers her insights into what to look for when choosing a property management company.

Finding and buying the ideal investment property is just half the journey, because without good tenants, your earning potential is going to be pretty unstable, and that’s where an experienced property manager comes in. In Melbourne and regional Victoria, there are dozens of firms and businesses offering property management services, but like any profession, not all service providers are the same, and you shouldn’t always believe what you read in the shiny marketing material. However, by simply asking the right questions, it’s surprisingly easy to sort the experts from the cowboys.

  1. What types of properties do you manage, and where? Some managers only focus on specific types of property, or in a set location. While this speciality may seem like sound practice at the outset, if you were to grow your portfolio, you may find you need to change managers, or have one manager for the city and another for regional Victoria. WhiteStar has experienced managers looking after a wide range of properties in Melbourne and out into the regions, so it’s likely one person can expertly manage all your properties.
  2. How do you choose the right tenant? Securing quality tenants – and keeping them – is key to enjoying a solid rental income. Diligent property managers are willing to spend extra time checking the full rental history of applicants, following up any anomalies in a tenant’s paperwork, matching the right tenant to the right property, taking the time to ask the right questions to referees, and getting to know the tenant. Demand for excellent tenants is high, so a successful property manager is one that not only works hard to find good tenants, but also keep them.
  3. How do you handle late payments or no payments? In many cases, late rental payment may simply be a one-off oversight, especially with the first payment or when rents can’t be paid by direct debit or automatically scheduled bank transfers. A good property manager will know pretty quickly whether this is the case, or whether it is likely to be an ongoing issue, and open communication is always the key. That said, if a tenant seems like they’re going to be unreliable, then a zero-tolerance approach to rental arrears is necessary.
  4. How do you manage inspections? Under current Victorian law, routine rental inspections may only occur once every six months, and are expected to go to twelve months. While a property manager might think they’re helping out their client by asking for more, that can actually jeopardise the rental agreement and the good relationship between tenant and landlord.
    A good rental manager will give a quality tenant sufficient notice to be convenient, and will know the requirements about when inspections can take place (i.e. between 8am and 6pm on any day except a public holiday). The property manager should bring with them the most recent condition report and would normally take photos of key parts of the property as a visual record for their own documentation and yours.
  5. What will be the full cost to manage the property? There can be many hidden costs in property management on top of the regular management fee, so it is important to find out exactly what any additional costs may be. These can include fees for:
    1. Listing your property
    2. Appearing at VCAT in landlord disputes
    3. Lease renewal
    4. Statements
    5. National tenancy database
    6. Insurance claims
      The WhiteStar property management team always provide our clients with a clear, upfront schedule of any extra fees that may be charged from time to time.
  6. Do you provide any add-on services? WhiteStar is in a pretty unique position in that we offer a full end-to-end service, from mortgage application to property management. This allows for incredible streamlining of processes, reduced chance of miscommunication, and a lot less time wasted waiting between steps on the investment property timeline. We also offer clients access to the WhiteStar Money app, to help organise payments and expenses, and when tax time comes, our in-house accountants have all your details at their fingertips so they can more easily help you with your tax return.

WhiteStar Property Management provides a quality service for all your property investment needs. Our clients chose to entrust us with the management of their portfolio as we know and specialise in property management, and can help alleviate all the stresses of being a landlord.

We manage properties all over Melbourne and throughout regional Victoria, so you’ll benefit from the convenience of dealing with one person, and our thorough due diligence on all applications to ensure you not only get the best tenants, but also keep them. We have very low vacancies rates and a zero tolerance on rental arrears.