When you are searching for a San Diego property manager for rentals, the interview questions you ask them will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether you should proceed or continue looking. The correct questions will reveal their actual knowledge about real estate and if they are compatible with you and your situation. The questions you should ask are about their history and reputation; service plans, rates and fees; the leasing process, working with homeowners and how they manage residents as well as the property.

Top 10 Questions to Ask a Property Manager

Asking the right questions is as important as conducting background research on the company prior to the interview. The following is a list of the top 10 questions to ask a San Diego property manager that covers the five important categories mentioned earlier.

Question #1: How many years have you been in property management industry?

Although new property management companies are not bad, they can incur a legal risk. Therefore, it is important to ensure the company you select understands all aspects of the industry so you do not need to do the leg work. PropertyADVANTAGE, for instance, has nearly three decades of experience managing properties in Southern California. The age of a business can be indicative of their experience, industry and legal knowledge, as well as their ability to reliably serve their customers.

Question #2: Can you provide a list of five active clients?

By requesting references, you can guarantee the property management company has many clients who utilize their services. Make sure to call at least one or two for verification.

Question #3: What is your monthly charge and what does it cover?

Following the lease, most companies charge a flat percentage of the monthly rental rate. This covers the monthly management of the property such as repair logistics and 24/7 coverage for emergencies. Always remember that repairs will be added to the monthly charge but your management company likely receives discounts on services, so it may not be as much as you’d pay on your own.

Question #4: What is your Renewal Policy?

This is an essential question to ask as some companies believe in auto-renewing while others conduct annual inspections prior to renewing. Some companies believe in maintaining the rental rates assuming the renter has an excellent record of on-time payments and keeping the property in top condition while others increase the rent based on market rates.

Question #5: How often should I expect you to contact me? How will you contact me?

In the majority of cases, the property manager will let you set the terms of communication. Some property owners like to be involved in the daily details while others just want to review the big picture issues. Also, property managers typically set a budget for “no-need-to-contact” repairs which are usually minor like unclogging a drain. It is important to let them know exactly how you want to be contacted.

Question #6: What is your termination policy?

While you should by no means be looking to cancel before even signing on with a property management company, situations certainly change and you will need some type of exit from the agreement. Make sure you understand their policy thoroughly before signing.

Question #7: How will the property be advertised?

With so many resources available on the Internet, Craigslist is not the only game in town. Ask which sites are being used to get the best applicants. You should also ask if you are in charge of providing property photos or if they will hire a professional photography company. PropertyADVANTAGE for instance takes photos for clients and also uses a wide variety of resources to reach qualified residents.

Question #8: How do you screen resident applications? Do you run a background check and, if so, who pays for it?

The majority of property management companies will perform background and credit checks on new applicants. In the lower vacancy markets, it is customary for the applicant to pay these fees. In some instances, the property management company requires you to pay during the initial setup fee. This information is critical to know so you are not thrown off-guard at a later date. Also ask how the property manager handles those applicants with evictions, low credit scores or have a history of foreclosure. Setting a standard screening process with your property manager’s help will help avoid Fair Housing discrimination issues, too.

Question #9: How do you handle emergencies during off-hours?

This question determines if the company provides residents with a 24-hour customer service hotline in the instance of a fire, plumbing emergency, electrical issue, police activity or other type of emergency that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Question #10: Who manages the accounting if there are damages upon move-out?

In the instance that your resident leaves damage while still under the lease, it is critical to ask if the property manager will be responsible for assessing the damage, removing the appropriate amount of money from the security deposit to fix it, hire the contractors and pursue payment for damages in excess of the security deposit.

There are more questions to choose from

There are many other questions you should be asking to hire the right property management company. Download our free guide with 30 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Property Management Company: