If you’re new to rental management in Chicago, you’re probably trying to figure out if you should take a stab at self-managing your rental investment or if you should pay for a reputable property management company to handle your rental property. Self-managing can be a very realistic proposition for many rental owners, especially if they only own a few properties.
What Skills Do I Need to Self-Manage My Rental Property?
Self-management saves money, but it is a commitment of time, and requires some knowledge and skills. Here are some skills you’ll need if you want to be a good property manager of your rental:
- Organizational Skills. You’ll need to set up a record keeping and filing system to track applicants, renters, maintenance and repairs, and other administrative paperwork. This is especially important given fair housing requirements, security deposit requirements, and also for taxes, to name a few.
- Time. If you work full-time, have a busy family, enjoy travel, or put a high value on recreational or other activities, you might want to consider hiring a property management company to help you manage your rental property. If you only own a few rental units, on most days you’ll find you don’t have much to do for your rental business. However, when something goes wrong, such as a burst pipe or a tenant not paying rent, it needs to be addressed quickly and professionally. And if you’re too busy to address the issue, having a property management company will allow you to breathe a sigh of relief.
- Knowledge of federal, state, and local landlord/tenant requirements. While many rental owners in Chicago successfully manage their rentals, there are quite a few laws and regulations that must be complied with, including:
- Handy with Repairs and Maintenance. It really helps if you’re handy with minor repairs and maintenance, such as fixing holes in walls, eliminating leaks, and light carpentry work. If you’re not, then you’ll need a good team of reliable and speedy contractors to help you. Regardless of your own skills, if you don’t want to be fixing leaking water heaters at 3 a.m., you’ll want to find a 24-hour plumber!
- People Skills. If you decide to self-manage, you’ll be dealing with a wide range of people including hopeful applicants and satisfied tenants. But not all people are pleasant to deal with. Sometimes applicants are disappointed if they don’t get the rental unit; sometimes tenants don’t pay their rent and you need to issue the required paperwork to pay rent or vacate the unit; and sometimes tenants violate other rules, such as not cleaning up after their pets, parking in someone else’s parking spot, or having loud parties late at night. These are all issues you might deal with if you self manage. If that makes you cringe, consider hiring a property management company.
Owning and managing a rental unit makes sense for many rental investment owners. What’s right for you? Do you have any tips for anyone trying to decide if they should try landlording?