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It isn’t a conversation that is being had openly but there is a subtle shift occurring in the management rights space, where not all agreements are extended, and strata managers or caretakers are replacing the traditional ‘mom and pop’ onsite team.

Finding the best property management company for a community living property can, however, be a heavy lift. So how does one find the best property management company to fit your community’s needs?

Follow the tips below when consulting with strata management companies to make the best decision:

1. How long have they been managing properties?

Property management companies come and go, which can leave the committee or body corporate in a bind. Finding a property management company with longevity means that it is likely that they will continue to operate into the foreseeable future, and that they come to the table with a vast amount of experience.

Partnering with a professional property management company with decades of expertise is essential as most communities will experience legal, accounting, emergency response, and maintenance issues in time. Contracting with a company that has permanence and industry know how is important for all parties involved.

2. How many properties do they manage?

There are no right or wrong answers here, but a manager with a smaller portfolio of properties means that their time may be less compromised, so they have more availability to serve your community with a personalised service.

On the other hand, a smaller company may be stretched too thin, have one manager overseeing many properties, and could lack the staff to serve as backup support should that manager become ill or need to take time off. Ensure that the company appointed has sufficient staff, support systems and resources that will allow them to deliver a premium service to the community.

3. Ask about the availability of the management team

Apart from industry know-how, the most crucial part of service is availability. Working with a management company that is easy to get in touch with is vital. One should look to partner with a company that can handle problems quickly and makes informed decisions based on experience. The best property management company for your community will offer multiple means of contact and backup support systems. They should also run recognised property management software that allows for direct communication with the management team for a quicker and more efficient response.

4. Ask about how property managers are selected

All strata buildings, high-rise or large communities are different. Property management companies should have a detailed process to find the right manager to fit the community’s needs to provide the best service. For example, if many of the community’s residents speak a foreign language, the right property management company should be able to staff the property with a manager who is fluent in that language and can communicate with and understand the needs of your residents.

5. Get a list of the property manager’s qualifications

When it comes to the day-to-day business of managing your community, the manager who will be working within the residential property needs the proper training and qualifications to deal with the situations that inevitably arise. Look for companies that offer experienced management teams and provide associate education programs and body corporate training. Because laws and regulations are constantly changing, ensure that the property manager has professional memberships and up-todate training to ensure the community remains compliant.

6. Establish what services are included in the contract

The term “full-service residential management company” means very different things within the industry. Does full service indicate that the company helps strategic planning, arranging preventative maintenance and fund collection? It is crucial to obtain a list of the services included in the contract before signing it. Ask if the quoted price is all-inclusive or if full service requires additional fees. Understanding what is expected to be paid upfront and monthly is essential as this will affect the community. Finally, ask about other resources available to support your manager, including legal, auditing, training and/or maintenance.

7. Ask how they handle maintenance

A professional residential management company will have procedures in place that clearly define how they respond to maintenance and emergency issues. Emergencies tend to happen when least expected, so ask if the property management company has an emergency maintenance crew and if they work with preferred vendors to resolve issues. Will they get multiple quotes and negotiate the best prices for your community? Do they make payments on your behalf? The right property management company for you will be invested in saving the community money and providing cost-effective maintenance solutions.

8. Do they communicate regularly?

Find a company that sets up a regular communication schedule that includes monthly reports and statements.

Ask if they attend routine board meetings and stay informed to provide the best service and manage the property well. They should also provide a 24-hour customer care centre that can answer residents’ questions while freeing up the manager to manage the property.

9. Review the terms of the contract

A full-service property management contract is usually two to five years long and may include penalties or fees for ending the contract early. It is essential to review the terms of the property management contract to know what penalties could be incurred and the benefits of renewing the contract year after year.

10. References

Last but not least, ensure that you request current customer references, reviews and testimonials that reflect their level of service. Speak with several of the references personally and pay attention to the reviews about the services that are essential to your community. It would help if you also looked for references from properties similar in size and operation to yours.