What Do Property Managers Do? A Comprehensive Guide

Published on May 8, 2024

Property Management

What Do Property Managers Do? A Comprehensive Guide

Don’t find unclogging toilets incredibly inspiring? Tired of playing “Where's My Rent?” every month? 

Unless you're a plumber-lawyer-therapist hybrid, a property manager just might be your sanity saver. From fielding surprise 3 AM maintenance calls to deciphering cryptic lease clauses, property managers handle the day-to-day operations so you can actually enjoy the fruits of your rental property investment.

The responsibilities of a property manager don’t end there, though. Let’s explore what else they get up to.

Key Responsibilities of a Property Manager

Property manager’s responsibilities—here’s their MO:

  1. Tenant management

  2. Rent collection and financial management

  3. Property maintenance and repairs

  4. Legal compliance and risk management

  5. Marketing and leasing

Tenant Management

The success of a rental property hinges on quality tenants, precisely where property managers earn their keep. Here's how they handle the ins and outs of tenant management:

  • Screening Tenants: A good property manager has a knack for reading between the lines. It's not just about credit scores and background checks—they use their experience to spot potential issues in an application that could turn into trouble later. This saves landlords from a lot of headaches (and unexpected costs).

  • Lease Agreements: Lease agreements can be as thrilling to read as a phone book. Property managers know the sneaky clauses that can bite you later and make sure you're completely protected.

  • Handling Tenant Concerns: Property managers know that quick responses and clear communication make tenants feel valued. Happy tenants mean fewer vacancies and a smoother-running rental business.

  • Move-Ins and Move-Outs: Anyone can snap a few blurry photos of an apartment, but a thorough property manager leaves no room for doubt. Their detailed move-in and move-out process protects both you and the renter, making transitions fair—no unwanted deductions or disputes later.

Rent Collection and Financial Management

The whole point of owning a rental property is to generate the stuff that makes the investment properties world go round: rental income. Something that the best property managers shine at. Here's how they keep the money flowing smoothly into your back pocket:

  • Setting and Collecting Rent: Property managers monitor similar properties’ rent prices and help you get top dollar without scaring off potential tenants. They also set up easy-to-use systems for monthly rent collection (because who does manual money transfers anymore?).

  • Managing Security Deposits: Security deposit rules often have property owners screaming, “no entiendo!” and one wrong step can land you in serious hot water. Yikes! A good property manager knows the local laws inside and out, keeping you safe from potential lawsuits.

  • Tracking Income and Expenses: Rental finances can get complicated quickly. A property manager tracks every rent payment coming in and every expense going out, giving you a crystal-clear understanding of where your money is being spent and not being spent. Peace of mind 101.

  • Financial Reports: Instead of a pile of receipts at the end of the year, a property manager gives property owners easy-to-understand reports. These aren't just for taxes—they help you spot patterns and make smart decisions to boost ROI.

  • Tax Time Made Easier: Many property managers know the ins and outs of rental property tax deductions. So say goodbye to tax time anxiety and hello to tax time savings.

Property Maintenance and Repairs

Want to attract responsible tenants (and not the ones who think “vintage” means moldy carpet)? A well-maintained rental is a must. That's where a property manager and insider knowledge on property maintenance come to the rescue. Here's how they handle maintenance issues:

  • Regular Inspections: Property managers’ detailed inspections catch things like a slow leak under the sink before it turns into a major mold issue—saving you big headaches and unexpected costs down the road.

  • Coordinating Repairs: When maintenance requests are filed, property managers have a go-to team of reliable professionals, so routine upkeep and repairs get done right (and for a fair price). That means less stress for you and happier tenants.

  • Emergency Repairs: Things break. There’s no avoiding it. Property managers are ready to handle on-site crises, making sure the problem is fixed right away to minimize damage and keep your tenants safe.

  • Overseeing Improvements: Remodeling a rental can feel overwhelming. A property manager acts as a personal contractor, handling every last detail and making sure the project stays on track.

Legal Compliance and Risk Management

Rental properties come with a tangle of regulations that can trip up even the most careful landlord. A good property manager knows how to navigate these complexities, minimizing your risk and protecting you from costly legal trouble. Here's how they help you stay on the right side of the law:

  • Landlord-Tenant Laws: These laws vary from state to state and, sometimes, even city to city. Property managers stay up-to-date on the latest changes, making sure your lease agreements and practices are compliant.

  • Fair Housing Practices: Discrimination lawsuits are a landlord's nightmare. Property managers are well-versed in fair housing laws, meaning your screening and tenant selection processes are a-OK.

  • Evictions and Disputes: If a tenant situation does turn sour, property managers handle it by the book. They know the proper procedures for evictions and other legal disputes, protecting your rights from start to finish.

  • Insurance Coverage: The right insurance is a non-negotiable, but policies can be confusing. Many property managers advise on appropriate coverage levels and will even help you secure the best policy for your property.

Marketing and Leasing

Minimizing vacancies maximizes your rental income. Property managers are pros at finding great tenants and filling those vacant units quickly. Here's how they do it:

  • Attractive Listings: Property managers turn your rental into an online hot spot—professional-grade photos, snappy descriptions, and highlighting features that make prospective tenants swoon.

  • Strategic Marketing: This isn’t a spray-and-pray kind of deal. Property managers are marketing experts, figuring out exactly where your ideal tenants are hanging out and showcasing your property in a light that’s product-market fit perfect.

  • Efficient Showings: A good showing is like a first date, so your place needs to look its best! Property managers handle the staging and answer even the trickiest questions, turning lookie-loos into serious applicants.

  • Negotiating and Preparing Leases: Leases are serious business, but that doesn't mean they have to bore everybody to death. Property managers make sure your interests are protected, negotiate like champs, and can spot a problem tenant application from a mile away.

  • Lease Renewals: Seriously, though, move-out day is the worst. Property managers know a happy tenant is a long-term tenant. They keep communication open, address issues quickly, and make lease renewal a no-brainer.

Types of Properties Managed by Property Managers

Different types of property present unique challenges, which is why property managers often niche down and specialize. Like anything, it’s a matter of interest and passion. Here's an overview of the most common types of properties that benefit from professional management:

Residential Property Managers

  • Single-family homes

  • Townhouses

  • Multifamily homes

  • Apartments and condos

  • Vacation rentals

Commercial Property Managers

  • Retail

  • Office spaces

  • Hotels and motels

  • Industrial buildings

Specialty Property Managers

  • Senior living facilities

  • Schools and universities

  • Sports stadiums

  • Theaters

Benefits of Hiring a Property Manager

Being a landlord is a full-time job—and then some. If you value your sanity (and your free time!), a property manager could be the best investment you ever make—honestly. They take the daily grind off your plate, letting you enjoy the returns of your real estate portfolio without the constant headaches.

A seasoned property manager also brings market knowledge, legal expertise, and a network of reliable vendors that most individual landlords simply don't have. They are market trend experts who understand precisely what similar rentals in your area are charging. They have deep knowledge of landlord-tenant laws and can get a leaky roof fixed quickly and at a fair price. Their expertise in these areas translates into maximizing your income, avoiding costly legal slip-ups, and protecting the value of your property.

The best property managers also recognize that happy tenants mean fewer vacancies and a steadier income stream. Property managers excel at building positive landlord-tenant relationships—think quick response times to maintenance requests, clear communication, and proactive problem-solving.

Their market knowledge helps you set competitive rents, their thorough tenant screening minimizes the risk of evictions (which can be both expensive and time-consuming), and their relationships with reputable contractors can save you money on repairs and minimize downtime between previous and new tenants.

Qualifications and Skills Required for Property Managers

Depending on local regulations, there are minimum standards for becoming a property manager. Most states require property managers to be at least 18 years old, though some set the minimum at 21. Typically, a high school diploma or GED is required to demonstrate basic educational competency.

To work legally in the US, property managers must be a citizen or permanent resident. Many states also require property managers to hold a real estate salesperson or broker license. Obtaining this license isn't just a checkbox exercise—it involves completing mandatory coursework, passing a rigorous exam, and submitting an application to your state's licensing authority.

While you might not always need formal property management experience to get started, like any job, these first-principal skills are needed to perform well in the role. Relevant experience makes a huge difference in navigating the complex day-to-day challenges of the job, and some certifications or positions might even have minimum experience requirements.

Beyond experience, property managers need a specific skill set: excellent communication skills for interacting with everyone from tenants to contractors, patience to handle tricky situations calmly, meticulous attention to detail for managing contracts and finances, and the organizational prowess to juggle multiple tasks and properties simultaneously.

And what about formal education? Is that needed?

While not always mandatory in every state or city, pursuing professional certifications is a great way to set yourself apart as a property manager. Designations like CPM (Certified Property Manager), RMP (Residential Management Professional), and MPM (Master Property Manager) demonstrate a deep knowledge of the industry and a commitment to excellence. These certifications involve coursework, experience requirements, and ongoing education.

If there is a niche interest, there are specialized certifications as well, such as PCAM (Professional Community Association Manager) or credentials in sustainable building practices like LEED.

What to Look for in a Property Manager

Choosing the right property manager is a big decision, so don't just pick the first one you find online. Here's what to prioritize when weighing up your options:

  1. Does the property management company or individual manager specialize in properties similar to yours? A manager with extensive experience handling apartment complexes might not be the best fit for your single-family home.

  2. Landlord-tenant laws can be a confusing maze and vary widely by location. Look for a property manager who is deeply familiar with the regulations in your specific area.

  3. A responsive property manager is worth their weight in gold. They should have clear communication channels, competitive management fees, and a proven track record of solving potential problems efficiently and professionally.

  4. Before signing any contract, make sure you fully understand the property management company's fee structure. Are there additional charges you might encounter? How often will you receive financial reports? Transparency on their end means fewer headaches later.

When to Hire a Property Management Company

Here are some situations where property owners often see a huge difference once they bring in professional help from a property management firm:

  • Being a landlord is time-consuming. If you have another job or family commitments, a property manager will handle the daily operations required to manage a profit-providing rental so you can get back to the stuff that matters.

  • Managing properties from afar is tough. Property managers offer local expertise and handle on-site issues quickly.

  • Juggling several rentals is a lot for one person. Property management companies specialize in efficiently handling portfolios of all sizes.

  • Property managers are experts in landlord-tenant law, marketing, and maintenance. They can save you from costly mistakes.

  • Dealing with late-night repair calls and tenant issues is stressful. Property managers take the hassle away, letting you enjoy your investment.

Want to explore property management services that are right for you?

Check out our guide, which answers the following question: Do I need to hire a property management company?


Unfortunately, passive income isn’t the phenomenon we real estate investors thought it was. Although a skilled property manager almost makes the dream come true. They take the challenges of managing rental properties off your shoulders. Phew!

So, if you're ready to reduce stress, save time, and reduce occupancy rates, hand the reigns over to a professional property manager. The right professional will make your real estate investment feel genuinely worthwhile.


Still have questions? We’ve got you.

What are the basic functions of a property manager?

Property managers handle the day-to-day operations of rental properties. Their responsibilities cover everything from finding tenants and collecting rent to handling maintenance, addressing tenant concerns, and ensuring compliance with relevant laws.

What is a property manager's first responsibility to the owner?

A property manager's main responsibility is to maximize the profitability of the rental property while protecting the owner's investment. This means finding quality tenants, setting competitive rents, maintaining the property, and providing accurate financial reporting.

What qualifications and skills are required for a property manager?

Qualifications vary by state but often include a real estate license and a minimum age requirement. Key skills include strong communication, problem-solving, organization, knowledge of landlord-tenant laws, and basic accounting principles.

What are the typical duties included in a property manager's job description?

A property manager's job description typically includes:

  • Marketing and leasing vacant units

  • Screening and selecting tenants

  • Collecting rent and handling late payments

  • Coordinating repairs and maintenance

  • Addressing tenant concerns

  • Conducting inspections

  • Enforcing lease agreements

  • Preparing financial reports

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