Property Management Services

What services do property management companies provide to duplex owners? How much should I expect to pay for these services.

FYI: My duplex will be in Texas about 45 minutes from my primary residence.


Not sure about Texas specifically, but it ranges from 8-12% of the rental income. Typically it includes handling tenant calls and notices and other services depending on the comp. Most will pass on eviction charges to you.

Some will also handle the maintenance for you. Do your homework and research their reputation THOROUGHLY. A bad prop management comp can cost you your whole rental income EASILY. Some months you won’t get a penny, and they have the BEST excuses and reasons in the world. You’ll almost believe them, until you manage the property yourself and then “magically” none of those things happen anymore…

45 minutes away, I say do it yourself and save the money. 2 units are relatively easy to manage yourself.

A property management company would charge 10% for small properties of this type. For this fee, they’ll simply do management, i.e.

  • Collect the rent.
  • Get a landscaping company to mow and maintain the grounds.
  • Handle maintenance complaints, and get the appropriate service people to handle repairs, and bill you accordingly.
  • Rent out the place when vacant, and do evictions when needed, with you paying attorney fees.
  • Provide you numbers on income and expenses.

I find the use of managment companies inefficient for properties of one to three families which I own, since:

  • With proper screening, I have tenants that mail me the checks on time, and in certain cases, I arrange to pick up the checks myself, and a 45 minute drive, 1-1/2 hour round trip is not too much for me.
  • I hire landscapers, they do the work, and bill me. I do inspections of the properties regularly, and with reliable tenants, ask them to keep an eye on things.
  • I have tenants handle repairs for things up to $200.00, and above that, they often help arrange for serviceman to come, put it on their charge, and then re-imburse them.

For small properties like these, where the rent roll is at most $2,000/month, or even less, they don’t do much for the $200/month management fee. If you demand documentation for work done, and complain about little things, they’ll drop you like a rock.

I find with a handful of properties, you’re better off managing it yourself. If you have a dozen maybe, I would put a retired handy person on my payroll, where several hundred dollars a month would supplement their Social Security nicely, do a good job for you, as compared to a PM firm where you’re on the bottom of the pile of things to do.

Sometimes a local RE broker doing management on the side might be more appropriate for smaller properties as compared to a PM firm. A good friend of mine, owning a property in FL, but lived in NY at the time, had a local RE broker do the managment for free for a SFH, in return for the right to be the exclusive rental agent, and to list the property when it comes up for sale.

Does the property manager’s 10% fee usually include the mowing and grounds maintenance? Or will the property management company send you an additional bill for the mowing and grounds maintenance?

No, nothing else included.

I had a conversation with a local PM person working for Century 21, when I asked him to drop by take a look, and he emphasized the 10% fee is ONLY for him doing management, and for SFH, only involves about half a dozen phone calls a year, and unless the tenant does not pay rent, or he gets complaints on landscaping, he won’t be making frequent drive bys either.

In other words, they pay the landscaper and then bill me. One problem I read quite often for small landlords is the inability to obtain adequate documentation for bills paid.

Looking at the math, according to him, with my SFH renting for $2,500/month, the PM fee of $3,000/year is for maybe six phonecalls. He joked with me that he doesn’t mind making $500 a phone call, that I can easily make myself. He said with a landscaper, it takes care of 90% of the problems, and a local plumber the other 9%, leaving 1% for other odds and ends.

One advantage of having a good landscaper is they can tell you if anything is amiss, like broken windows, and pick up some litter if the tenant is away for a week, so 90% of the exterior mangement problems is taken care of, without the help of a PM.

He says that he manages these properties for older folks who don’t want to be bothered by tenants, or afraid of tenants, usually little old ladies. He laughed and said I don’t look like a little old lady who needs a man to make $500 phone calls.

Iampa, good advice from Frank.

Do it yourself man, read all you can on landlord-tenant laws for Texas, and jump into the pool. You can learn as you go, just use your head and follow the advice you get from successful landlords.

Again it depends on the area and the rents. I’ve seen them range from 5% to 10% and that depends on what the unit is renting for. I think the best deals I’ve seen is for condo complexes. I know several people that only pay $40-$50 per month on units that rent from $800-$1200 a month for property management. Of course in their case the property management already did management of the complex, their fee was basically to answer phone calls from the tenant and to do the bookkeeping. They’ve had good luck with the company as they’re usually large enough that no funny business goes on. That’s always a concern when hiring any property management firm.

Thanks for the advice