What to consider when changing property managers
- Jul 25, 2023 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
The short-term rental (STR) world is anything but boring right now. Controversies about the so-called “collapse” of the STR market are swirling all over the internet; more and more local governments across the country are getting laws on the books to regulate vacation rentals; and the debates about the STR industry’s role in affordable housing continue to rage.
In the midst of all the uncertainty, however, STR hosts still need to provide great stays for their guests, take care of their property, and run their business. Many owners turn to STR property managers to take business burdens off their shoulders and ensure they’re providing top-notch experiences for their guests. Property managers apply their expertise to help owners make their STR business a success.
However, these partnerships don’t always work out. When a property manager provides subpar service, goes out of business, or otherwise fails to live up to their part of the bargain, it’s time to choose a new one.
For owners who rely on property managers, it’s a crucial business relationship that has to be a good fit. So if you’re looking for a new property manager, consider your choices carefully. Here are some key criteria you can use to find the best property manager for you.
Learning about other customers’ experience with a property manager is one of the best ways to judge what it would be like to work with them. Whether you’re hearing stories from people you know or browsing online ratings, personal accounts are invaluable in helping you get an idea of what the property manager brings to the table.
Another element to look at is track record. You’ll want to find answers to questions like:
- How long has the company been in business?
- Are they local or national?
- How many customers do they serve?
- Have they ever had financial trouble or received poor ratings from business bureaus or other consumer advocates?
This should give you a good idea of whether the company has longevity or any business problems that could affect their ability to provide the service you need.
Service is the name of the game in the property management business. While most property managers offer many of the same services, you shouldn’t always assume they provide the kind of service you need. Some of the services commonly provided include:
- Booking and payment
- Guest communication
- Lodging tax compliance
- Property repairs and maintenance
However, one size does not fit all. Not all property managers will provide the services you need the way you need them, and you may not need all the services some property managers provide. You need to do your homework.
For example, you’ll want to find out exactly what kinds of guest services the property manager provides. Are they available 24/7 to help guests with issues? How quickly can they respond in case of a problem?
When it comes to physical property management and maintenance, you’ll want to delve into the details of what exactly they do or don’t do, and how. For instance, you’ll need to know what kinds of maintenance tasks are included in their service as well as whether they have staff to perform these or use subcontractors.
On the financial side, don’t assume a property manager automatically takes care of things like lodging tax compliance — something many STR owners don’t know much about. Outsourcing tax tasks can save you a lot of trouble, but not every property manager takes care of it automatically.
Goals and approach
Different STR owners have different objectives, and the property manager should be well positioned to help you realize those goals. While one host may want to outsource everything related to short-term rental management, others may want to be more hands-on and selective about the tasks they need a manager to take on. One owner may want to operate a high-end luxury property while another may focus on providing a family-friendly environment. The right partner will align with you on approach and offer the help you need to get where you want to go with your STR.
While it can take some work to pick the right property manager, the time is well spent. When you make the right choice, you’ll have a strong partner that can help you make the most of your STR business.
MyLodgeTax can help short-term rental operators comply with state and local tax registration, collection, and filing requirements. For more on lodging taxes in your state, see our state Vacation Rental Tax Guides. If you have tax questions related to vacation rental properties, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you with answers.