4 Types of Interview Questions You Should Ask Property Managers
Finding a great property manager involves asking the right questions when you interview her. Four important areas to focus on are her experience as a property manager, her education in property management, her knowledge of landlord-tenant legal issues, and the results she's achieved as a property manager.
Her answers to these questions will help you determine her strengths and weaknesses, and will ultimately help you decide if she's the right fit for you and your rental property.
Questions About Experience
The first thing you'll want to determine is whether the prospective manager has ever actually managed rental property before. This area of questioning should give you an understanding of the property manager's background. You'll decide from his answers if his experience is the right fit for your needs as an investor. Some examples of these questions include:
- How long have you been in property management?
- Is this your full-time job?
- Do you work for yourself or for a property manager/management company?
- What types of properties have you managed?
- Have you had experience dealing with my type of property?
- How many properties are you currently managing? (You don’t want your property to get lost in the shuffle.)
- Do you have the time and resources to successfully add my property to your workload?
- Have you ever been fired as a property manager?
If you own a 10 unit building and the manager has only had experience with single family homes, he might be too inexperienced for your specific needs.
Interview Questions About Education
This next area of questioning involves a prospective manager's education. Questions about college degrees and higher education are important, but your focus here is to learn about her education specifically as a property manager. You want to know if she's acquired the knowledge and training necessary to obtain proper certification. Examples of questions to ask include:
- What is the highest level of education you've achieved?
- Do you have your real estate broker’s or property management license? (Most states require property managers to be licensed before they can show apartments.)
- Do you have any type of certification? (Trade organizations such as IREM, NAA, NARPM, and CAI offer education and training courses and provide certification after completion.)
- Have you taken any steps to continue your property management education?
Questions About Her Knowledge of Landlord-Tenant Law
An extensive knowledge of landlord-tenant law is non-negotiable. This individual is representing you, and any missteps on her part could result in lawsuits against you and your property. Examples of questions to ask the prospective manager include:
- Do you understand the city, state and federal laws for property management and dealing with tenants?
- Do you understand a landlord's responsibilities under landlord tenant law?
- Do you have knowledge of the federal fair housing laws?
- Do you know the steps to properly evict a tenant?
- What are the safety codes for my type of property? How many smoke detectors are needed? Do they have to be hard wired? Do you need window guards on second-floor windows?
- Do you know the rules for collecting and storing security deposits?
- Do you know what to include in a pet policy and the list of dangerous dog breeds?
- Do you know the reasons you can terminate a lease?
Keep in mind that yes-and-no questions are easy to answer dishonestly. You might start with them, but be sure to press on and ask for more specific, detailed information. And be sure you know the answers as well so you know whether the applicant is correct.
Questions About Filling Vacancies and Retaining Tenants
These questions will give you an idea if the prospective manager is any good at his job. If the property manager has a high tenant turnover rate or a tough time filling vacancies, he's probably not the right person for the position. Examples of questions to ask include:
- How long does it usually take you to fill a vacancy?
- Are you available to show apartments seven days a week? At what times?
- Where do you advertise to find tenants?
- What is the average length of your tenancies? (If he gets tenants to sign long leases and actually stay for the duration of the lease, this will cut down on costs to fill vacancies, including advertising costs, apartment turnover costs, and lost rent.)
- How many tenants have you evicted over the past year? (This can help you determine if he's properly screening tenants.)
- What is your process for screening tenants?
- How do you set the right rent for the property? How many comparable properties do you look at? How often do you adjust the rent?
- How do you collect rent each month? Do you allow tenants to use direct deposit? Do you only accept money orders or certified checks? Is there a set day each month? Is there a grace period? Do you enforce late fees?
These questions should give you a clear and accurate picture of an applicant, even if you ask just a portion of them, tailoring them to your needs, your property, and your concerns.