11 questions to ask your property manager


While many investors spend a large amount of time and effort carefully researching the property markets and then finding the top investment, they ignore the role that a professional property manager can play in preserving their property’s capital value and maximising its income. 

With our property markets growing strongly and no shortage of tenants, many beginning landlords fail to ignore the relationship with their property manager as an ongoing business partnership.

Too many landlords choose their property manager on fees alone.

Others think they don’t need a property manager at all and can do it themselves.

This is possible because they don’t understand that property management is much more than just collecting rents.

To manage your property to minimise vacancies and maximise your returns requires:

  • Industry-specific skills and knowledge such as knowing how to market your property effectively to get it exposed to the maximum number of tenants.
  • Setting the rent at an appropriate market level to ensure quick leasing, the choice of a variety of good tenants and at the same time maximise the returns in these days of rising rents.
  • Checking potential tenant’s references to ensure you have a reliable tenant who is unlikely to cause trouble.
  • Drawing a fair and comprehensive lease to protect your interests as a landlord.
  • Lodging the bond with the relevant authority.
  • Handling repairs and maintenance with skilled, licensed tradespeople.
  • Paying insurances and outgoings on behalf of the landlords who will work at fair prices.
  • Keeping up to date with complex ever-changing tenancy legislation.

Because the relationship with our property manager will be a long and ongoing one, let’s look at how to select a top professional.

First, draw a list of potential property managers.

With new technology, many property managers have centralised their services, so it’s not essential to appoint a managing agent whose office is in the same suburb as your investment property.

It is important however to find someone who has experience in the property market that your particular property is located in.

I find it best to arrange to meet the shortlist of property managers at their offices as this gives you a great opportunity to observe them on their home turf.

It will help you decide if you feel comfortable working with them and should allow you to gauge their level of professionalism.

When you meet potential property managers, clarify which services are included in their proposal and ask some specific questions – for example, check how they handle arrears, routine inspections, and rent reviews.

Here are 11 questions that you should ask your prospective property manager:

1. Does the agency have a dedicated property management department and how many staff will be looking after my property?

Many agencies see property management as a “poor sister” to the more glamorous sales department and some even leave the management of client’s assets to the front desk staff and receptionists.

Ensure that your agent has a dedicated property management department.

It would be preferable that this department is staffed by a number of experts so there is continuity of management in the event of one property manager being ill or leaving.

2. Is a director/owner of the agency involved in the day-to-day management of the property management department? 

Most agencies have a sales department and a rental department. Property management department

Generally, the business owner has a sales background and not a rental background, and looks after the sales department leaving the management of their rental department to a property manager.

This is often because the sales department has a higher turnover and high income.

The rental department has a lower income, is more intensive, and difficult to manage.

You may find that an agency where the director has an active involvement of the property management department will take the business of property management more seriously.

3. How many years has the property manager looking after your property been working in real estate?

This relates to the property manager and not the agency.

Going to a brand-name agency doesn’t mean their service is going to be any better.

Many people start their career in real estate as receptionists and then move up to the property management department, and some of the top performers move into sales.

Yet some individuals choose property management as a career and this is the type of person that should be looking after your property.

4. How many years has the property manager been with the agency?

You should look for stability in your property manager.  Does the property manager give you a written proposal

You want someone who will learn your property inside and out.

You want to pick up the phone and talk to that person today, and in 6 months’ time, you want to be able to talk to that same person.

Due to the stresses involved in property management, the staff turnover tends to be quite high.

This is another reason why you should look for an estate agent who has chosen property management as a career.

5. Does the property manager give you a written proposal?

Some property managers just go out and look at your property and say “OK, we’ll put it on our books”.

Look for someone who has put in the time and effort to present a professional image to you and gives you a written proposal.

If they make the effort to present their services professionally to you, it is likely they will look after your property professionally also.

6. What geographic area does the property management service cover?

While you should be looking for a property manager with expert local knowledge, consider what your property portfolio will look like in a couple of year’s time.

Will you own a number of properties spread throughout the suburbs? Location

You could either employ a specialist property manager in each geographic location or you could instruct a large property management company that covers a larger geographic area.

Australia is now following the overseas trend in the formation of agencies that are solely dedicated to property management and cover a larger geographic area.

With the advent of internet advertising and electronic banking, these “super offices” no longer need to be located in the local shopping strip to manage your properties.

Many professional property investors are turning to this type of asset manager who will be able to look after their entire property portfolio.

7. Does the Property Manager hand out keys or do they attend property inspections with prospective tenants?

If they just hand out the keys and let the tenant inspect the property on their own, move on to another agency.

Too many things can go wrong with this approach and the security of your property is compromised.

Inspecting your property with a prospective tenant means that the agent has a better opportunity to promote the property, as well as a chance to get to know the tenant a little better.

8. How many properties does the manager look after? Color Question Mark In Drawing House

A property manager who looks after too many properties may not have time to devote attention to your property.

Some busy agencies have 200 properties per property manager.

In general, this is far too many to give your property individual attention.

At some boutique agencies, each property manager looks after about 100-150 properties.

While these agencies may charge a little more for their property management services, landlords find this extra expense translates to a trouble-free investment that often produces a higher return.

9. Do you have staff available to show my property to prospective tenants six days a week?

The hectic pace of life and the advertising of rental properties on the Internet 24 hours a day means a good property manager must be available to show prospective tenants your property when it best suits the tenant.

10. Do you have a system for checking prospective tenants with regard to creditworthiness, past rental history, and their current employment?

Ensure that your property manager subscribes to a major tenancy database and screens all prospective tenants carefully.

11. Will you go to court for me if need be and what is your success rate for previous appearances?

Unfortunately, you just might have to go to the tenancy tribunal to protect your rights as a landlord.

If this happens you will need an experienced property manager to represent you as tenancy laws have become quite complex.

When you have chosen your property manager, establish a collaborative relationship and agree on your working parameters.

Explain to them how involved you want to be in the ongoing management of your property. 

Make it clear what they are allowed to do without referring back to you and when you do require them to contact you.

This will avoid many of the misunderstandings that arise between property managers and landlords. hammer-802296_1920

For example, if you signed an agreement for your property manager to spend up to $200 on repairs without obtaining permission, don’t expect them to phone you each time a tap washer needs replacing.

Listen to your property manager if they suggest you undertake non-urgent repairs or maintenance on your investment.

This will keep your property in top condition and you will be less likely to lose your tenants.

As a property investor, you have the choice of managing your investment properties yourself or delegating the day-to-day management to the managing agents.

Engaging a property manager is the preferred option for investors in today’s more complex property market.

However, it is critical that you choose your property manager wisely as proactive property management can considerably increase the return from your investment property.

ALSO READ: How (and When) Should You Raise the Rent on Your Investment Property


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Leanne is National Director of Property Management at Metropole and a Property Professional in every sense of the word. With 20 years' experience in real estate, Leanne brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to maximise returns and minimise stress for their clients. Visit: Metropole Property Management

'11 questions to ask your property manager' have 16 comments

    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    August 18, 2019 Damon Stratton

    Thank you for this helpful roundup of questions all landlords should ask a property management company before agreeing to hire them. I would love to add that asking the property manager for a comprehensive list of services is important too. After all, you don’t want to pay for a property manager and have to pick up the slack when they don’t give you the services you need to run your rental property business. That said, asking the right questions before making a decision will guarantee you have the right people on your side to help you maximize your ROI and keep your tenants happy.


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    October 11, 2018 Aaron Moon Real Estate

    Peter these tips are great! The industry is definitely getting bigger and less experienced members are entering so this article is definitely going to help people find the more experienced professionals to care for their properties.


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    April 20, 2018 natalie wilson

    Thanks for the article, Michael. Great questions and answers!


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    April 20, 2018 Natalie Wilson

    Thanks for the article Michael, great questions, and answers!


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    August 30, 2017 Emma Gray

    I agree that when you are looking for a property manager you would want to ask them how many properties they manage. I would imagine that it would be a good idea to find someone who manages a good number of properties but not too many. This would probably mean that they are experienced but would not be overworked by the amount of work they have.


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    October 8, 2016 Patrick Freeze

    Thank you for sharing this comprehensive list. This will be very helpful for anyone looking to hire a reputable and trustworthy property management company. It is important that you feel your properties will be well cared for, that there are solid procedures in place for all scenarios, and that your tenants will feel comfortable with the management company. All of these things, and more, can affect your property’s turnover rate and need to be addressed upfront.


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    May 4, 2016 Suku Taylor

    Hi Michael,
    I have my property currently managed by a large real estate company which bought out the company who I hand picked after evaluating several. I am struggling with this property manager and I have tried to call and email the director in the company. No response. I am currently in the UK and need to determine how to employ a new PM and transition to a new one.
    i would be grateful for advice on how to find PM form overseas and suggestions on transitioning over to the new appointee.


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    November 17, 2015 Brendan Leahy

    Very good questions and advice as always, another couple to ask if you like.
    Dose the property manager that I’m dealing with deal with my Tanant?
    What a lot of agentcies do is split the tasks between owners and tenants which can create a disconnect and slow the process of any action to be taken.
    Dose the property manager that’s looking after my property do all the inspections on my property or do you contract out all the inspections?
    A lot of offices in a bid to cut costs have some or all inspections done by a contractor, to the point that in a lot of cases I know of the property manager never actually ever sees your property.
    Can you please show me the printed procedures for your property managers?
    More important then a long serving property manager is the systems behind the property manager. If they leave for some reason, go on sick leave for an extended time period, the procedures in the dack end means a seamless transition and it Realy shouldn’t matter who’s sitting in the chair looking after your property it’s more the systems that are looking after them.
    Dose your office have a seperate accounts person?
    This is an important one as property managers are there to manage your property not to do trust accounts and billing, we have found that they are two very different skill sets. Also there goes another couple of days a month that there not looking after your property.
    Do you take on every property that walks in the door?
    This is a big one because if they do that should de a red flag. Like its a great idear to interview property management companies they should have a selection process for not taking on bad land lords with a bad property that hasn’t been maintained well and or the owner isn’t in the position to pay for maintance on the property or dosnt want to maintain the property and looks at tenants as second class people. Owning a property is a three way street, it has to be good for the owner, the Tanant and the business. 10 bad owners can take up 60 plus % of a property managers time, which means the service level of good owners and there property suffers. This will generally be uncovered in the fees you pay but not always.
    How much training dose the company invest in there team each year?
    Again this is important as it’s an 8 day course to become a property manager and the only requirement to remain one is to do your CPD points each year. The business should be investing in in house as well as off site training with a minimum of ten days on top of there CPD training.
    As stated previously the number of properties that they manage is a critical question we have found in WA that 80 properties is the maximum that works for our team. This allows the property manager to look after you and your property do all the inspections and maintance and the same person that deals with you deals with your Tanant.
    In the inter view ask the company to print off from there CRM system (if they don’t have one run as fast as you can) the rent arrears. There shouldn’t be any over a few days. (You do have to allow for eft transfer times but that’s all) If there are ask why and what has been done to get the rent and what there procedure is to get your money in quickly. One week can very quickly turn into 3. There should be a zero tolerance for late rent. A lot of companies say they have zero tolerance but have no system in place to make sure this dosnt happen.
    Sorry this is so long have a supper day every one.


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    July 30, 2015 Focus Property Management

    Great post. If we ask the right questions, we will get the right property manager for our investment. And they’re all found here.


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    March 9, 2014 Carlos borges

    Hello michael,
    My friend, who is turning 65 this year, has been depending on the income from share market since he was 50 years old. This year his share portfolio has not been doing well and he is starting to struggle a little.

    May I ask you whether he should enter the property market right now and make the earnings from it? Especially at his age of 65? If so, what is the strategy? He is based in Brisbane , qld.

    I look forward to hearing from you and pass your feedback onto him and ask him to talk more with you .

    Kind regards


      March 9, 2014 Michael Yardney

      I have no idea how to to answer your question as I don’t know enough about your friend and how much money has to invest in property.

      Unfortunately at age 65 and I assume with no other income, he will find it very difficult to get a loan to invest in property


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    March 8, 2014 Melodie

    Good advice. I’d add another question – how many properties is the PM (who will be managing mine – not the department as a whole) responsible for? Remember, 120+ properties for a single PM means the amount of time available to devote to each property is small… all the more reason to start with a well maintained property with good tenants.
    Owners need to help their PM – inspect the property, do the maintenance properly, and be aware of what is happening more than once a year. Do give some recognition and acknowledgement of the work your PM does – this is a reward as valuable as the monetary return if you want to stand out as a landlord. Good landlords help PMs be even better!
    BTW, I’m a self-managing landlord with a PM registration. Doing both jobs has provided an appreciation of what agency PMs do, and their limitations. Cheers,


    Avatar for Leanne Jopson

    February 13, 2014 Sukh

    Hey Peter, thanks for this article. These 11 questions are going to help someone who is looking for the best property manager around.


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