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Understand the basics of a good property management contract

Do you need a property manager? Before you hire one, you need to understand a property manager's basic responsibilities. Those are key to establishing the all-important employment contract that will govern your ongoing relationship.

Here are the things you should expect from any good property manager:

1. Handling Rents

The rent is critical to your property's value, so this is also a critical part of your property managers job. Naturally, your property manager should manage the collection of rent, so you don't have to do it. However, he or she should also be able to adjust rent levels to attract -- and keep -- the type of residents you want to have in your buildings.

Your property manager also has to know how to handle evictions when necessary -- which has to be done in accordance with the law.

2. Understand Rental Laws

Property managers must also take responsibility for knowing the legal boundaries when it comes to screening tenants, evicting them, ending leases prematurely, safety compliance and other legal issues that rental property owners face.

If you hire a manager with a poor understanding of real estate law and landlord-tenant issues, it can end up embroiling you in unfortunate legal problems.

3. Manage Tenants

Tenant management is another feature of property management. Property managers need to know how to find tenants, screen them for criminal issues and other liabilities, explain lease terms to new tenants and handle complaints.

4. Maintenance

Property management also includes responsibility for the repair and upkeep of a property. Good maintenance is important if you want your property to retain or even increase in value.

Maintenance issues can include hiring subcontractors, exterminators, landscapers, trash removal services, plumbers, electricians and other companies. That means that your property manager also has to have some understanding of the value of good relationships with reliable service providers.

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