Are you a first-time property manager? Then buckle up because this guide aims to be as thorough and candid as it could get about the realities of property management in Ottawa.
In the following sections, we’re going to investigate major concerns surrounding rental property management. These include the very un-sexy but important topics of maintenance, upkeep, rental pricing, and how to select the right kind of tenants.
There are tips and tricks mentioned in each section to help you keep the entire process running smoothly.
We’ll also throw in some practical advice and debunk a few common myths so you can avoid the usual pitfalls of managing a property (and all that it entails).
Property Management in Ottawa Demystified
There’s nothing “passive” about this kind of passive income. It’s safe to say you’re going to have to be on your toes most of the time as a property manager.
Property management isn’t just sitting back and waiting for the rent money to come in. Sure, managing finances is one major responsibility you’re going to face, but others are equally as (or even more) important.
You’re going to have to manage both things and people, as well. You’ll need the right kind of resources to make sure every single thing that’s part of a rental is functioning as it should and won’t cause any inconvenience to your tenants.
You must have a reliable network of professionals on speed dial and who can handle emergency services any time of the day. That means knowing everything from the best waste management services in Ottawa to the expert plumbers in the city who can keep your rental units from getting flooded.
So yes, it is a challenging job. However, if you handle things properly and make sure you have the right kind of information before delving into the nitty-gritty, property management can be quite fulfilling, as well.
1. The Importance of Proper Property Management
Commercial and residential property managers have different sets of rules but they pretty much share similar guidelines and core values. The mistakes made by either type of manager can also prove to be equally costly and time-consuming.
Managing a property the right way means being able to stay on top of disagreements and preventing them from escalating into legal battles (which could be quite costly).
Therefore, it’s a must to know how to handle disputes with tenants while ensuring that you remain civil and professional.
Then there’s the issue of ensuring that the income from property rentals comes in a steady flow. Unfortunately, a lot of first-time property owners end up losing money on their units whether they’re managing room rentals in Ottawa or bigger commercial properties.
Proper property management entails knowing your market so you can make informed decisions on how to price your rent and keep all your units occupied at all times. We’ll discuss this more at length in the next sections.
2. Maintenance and Upkeep
Electricity, gas, heating, plumbing, cooking, storage, and even creaky doors and windows all need proper and regular maintenance to keep a rental unit functioning optimally.
If you’re a property manager, it’s your responsibility to keep the property and units safe and habitable at all times for all your tenants. That entails preventing manageable repairs and issues from blowing up into expensive emergencies later on.
Maintenance also means conducting regular inspections of the premises and units to ensure that everything is in good working condition. Between three to six months of inspection is recommended (so give a heads up to your tenants to make sure they comply).
For upkeep, you can enlist some expert cleaning services in the city so you can keep things in pristine condition instead of replacing old and worn-out furniture, appliances, and amenities all the time.
You don’t have to handle the nitty-gritty of maintenance by yourself. As previously mentioned, it’s practical for property managers to have a resource of reliable people to help them with maintenance and upkeep.
Your main job is to know when to get the services of the best furnace repair services in Ottawa when tenants complain about the heat. Or it could be time to get professional insulation services when a rental unit gets too chilly despite the season.
3. Rental Pricing
Having an attractive long-term rental housing on a well-maintained property might not be enough to lure in the kind of tenants you have in mind. You’re going to have to do due diligence to see if the property you’re managing is a good match with the market you’re aiming for.
For instance, an expensive condo property that’s near a university or college might not be the best housing option for most people in the area. You’ll also be up against stiff competition with low-cost student housing and dormitories.
You can also investigate other rental properties to see what the occupancy rates are. If there’s a noticeable number of rental units that are always vacant, it might mean that the rent is either too high or it’s not the appropriate location for the market.
You’ll need to do your homework to figure out the average rent in your area so you can price fairly while still making a profit.
The most skilled and knowledgeable property managers are those who know the kind of employment, economic, and educational make-up of certain locations. In turn, they will have an idea of the type of tenants they can expect to attract and interact with.
4. Finding and Choosing Tenants
Got people skills? Being a property manager means being able to communicate effectively with future and current tenants.
In line with the section above on pricing rentals, you have to get an idea of important factors like average family size and statistics on local employment. Nuclear families would want to be around other traditional-sized families, while single renters who go to work in the area might not appreciate having families with small kids as neighbours on their off-days.
Studio units are better suited for working people and the more budget-conscious renters. They are definitely not meant for families with a couple of kids, so it’s your job to vet them from the get-go.
You can have a tenant screening process that will help prevent costly and messy evictions in the future. Doing a background check for criminal, credit, and rental or eviction histories can help you sign on the ideal long-term tenants who won’t give you a headache.
In time, you’ll also need to get an idea of the common complaints of each tenant and how you can address them in a civil but firm manner. That’s why regular inspections and friendly check-ins are important.
5. Should You Hire A Property Manager?
If you decide to go with the services of a professional property manager, please note that they can charge either a flat retainer or a monthly percentage (around 6% – 12 %) of your agreed-on rental fees.
Their fees will also depend on the kind of property you have and where it’s located. Those in prime locations and are meant for a more upscale market will of course fetch a higher income (and therefore a higher percentage fee for your property manager).
So is it worth it to hire a property manager instead of trying to handle all the minutiae yourself?
The answer is: it’s really up to you.
But the argument can be made for having the right kind of work-life balance and peace of mind that hiring a professional property management firm in Ottawa can provide. They have the experience, knowledge, training, and resources to make the work efficient, organized, and running as smoothly as possible.
Yes, it will cost money but bear in mind that you won’t have to worry about the potential complications of handling miscellaneous fees for HOA, utilities, taxes, and others. You also won’t need to witness messy evictions (yes, they can get quite hairy with some stubborn tenants!).