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What Is the Difference Between a Landlord & a Property Manager?

by Elle Di Jensen

Some people use the terms "landlord" and "property manager" interchangeably. They both rent out homes, apartments and office space, but that doesn't mean they play the same role or function in the same way. Landlords may not always operate with property managers, but if there's a property manager in the picture, there's also a landlord somewhere behind the scenes. If you are a landlord, you should be aware of how a property manager can assist you.

Ownership

There are some similarities between landlords and property managers, but a significant difference is ownership in a property. Landlords own property while property managers are hired by property owners to supervise and manage properties. The manager gets paid for the service he provides the landlord, either a flat fee or a percentage of the rents he collects. A landlord doesn't get paid a salary and will only make money off his rentals if they are profitable.

Professional Relationship

Some landlords like the idea of owning rental properties and the income they provide but are ineffective in managing their rental business. It could be that they don't have time to deal with the demands of upkeep for the properties or are uncomfortable dealing with tenants, whether it's collecting rent or responding in a timely manner to repairs and complaints. A property manager takes on the landlord's responsibilities, many times adding an element of professionalism to the landlord-tenant relationship that may be missing.

Tenant Interaction

Property managers are expert middlemen. They represent the landlord when dealing with prospective and current tenants. Through a formal agreement with the landlord, property managers know what their responsibilities are and how much authority they have in overseeing the landlords' properties. If an issue arises that surpasses their authority or responsibility, property managers relay tenants' requests and concerns to the landlord and act on the landlord's directives.

Responsibilities

When a landlord hires a property manager, the manager takes on the majority of the landlord's responsibilities. This is typically everything from advertising vacant units for rent to showing properties, taking applications from prospective renters and running credit checks on them. Property managers are responsible for collecting rents, subcontracting out repairs as needed, evicting tenants who don't pay their rent and paying utilities on the properties. A property manager also provides the landlord with a monthly profit and loss statement as well as a check for the rents collected, less expenses and the manager's fee.

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