As an individual property owner who has been managing your properties yourself, you’ve spent hours dedicated to keeping the property attractive and operating smoothly. According to the US Census Bureau, about 50% of all property managers are self-employed.  Dealing with the terrible three – tenants, trash and toilets – twenty-four hours a day to keep your property values high can be demanding.

If you are ready to reclaim some of your free time, hiring the right property management company can help. Before you make a decision, here are five criteria to look for when comparing companies.

Credentials and Credibility

Partnering with a management team goes beyond fixing toilets and taking rent payments. You want a team that has a positive reputation in the community — and the skills to take care of your residents and your business. Ask potential companies how they train maintenance and ancillary staff.  Membership with the National Apartment Association (NAA), or similar credentialing agencies, indicates the management company is focused on excellence.

Legal and Licensing Questions

Reputation management involves strict adherence to local, state and federal laws. Licensed real estate and accounting professionals on staff reduces worries that problems will crop up during tax time or with fair housing complaints. Check with the Better Business Bureau to find out whether there are unresolved complaints on file against the management company.

Staff Training Program

Participating in a credentialing program indicates a company is willing to invest in its employees to better serve property owners. Another indication is how well they train the call center staff, frontline leasing agents and on-site managers. Ask questions that help you determine if the training programs are consistent and effective. What is the employee turnover rate? A stable workforce is a good sign that a company has an effective training plan and that they use it to benefit their customers.

Features and Benefits Offered

Some residents might exhibit hesitancy when you announce that you are relinquishing even part of your management responsibilities to an outside firm. One way to improve resident response is to make the change positive for them. Working with a company that uses state of the art technology appeals to many Millennials who are looking for online payment options and mobile connectivity that fits their lifestyle. Here are some other features to look for that will make the transition easier for you and benefit your residents.

Experience With Your Property Type

Finding a management company that has extensive experience with similar properties in the market is essential. Whether you have a mixed-use building, a commercial property or a small multi-family complex in a suburban neighborhood, you need a team that is familiar with the unique needs of your property. Ask questions to satisfy your concerns. Does the company have experience with your resident base? Do they understand the ethnic or cultural idiosyncrasies of your renters? Can they provide verifiable references from property owners with comparable sizes and types of properties?

No one knows your property better than you do. Be sure to thoroughly investigate before you hand over the keys to a management company — you’ll be glad you did.