LAURENE H. YOUNG, (B), MPM, RMP, REALTOR
Young Hawaii Homes, Inc.
2011 President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers
Q. I have a rental unit in Honolulu but live in California. Someone just told me I have to have a rental agent on Oahu.
Is that true? And, how do I find someone to manage my unit when I live so far away. I am afraid I might give my personal information to someone who is scamming me.
A. It is true that you must have a Hawaii rental agent who resides on the same island where the unit is located. In most cases, a property manager must also be a licensed real estate agent in Hawaii. To check if a property manager is licensed to practice in Hawaii, visit the Department of Consumer Affairs website at http://cca.hawaii.gov. You can access general excise information and complaint history on this website. You can also visit the property manager’s company website for further information, but there are some amazing managers who don’t have websites.
If you have no family or friend who can provide a referral or help do the legwork to find you a rental agent, it can be a difficult task. Everyone has different requirements, so write down all those characteristics that are important to you.
NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Managers) might be one place to start. The Oahu Chapter has a website (www.oahu.narpm.org) that lists all our members. Our chapter provides education and networking abilities to our members to help them learn how to manage properties and to keep up with the ever changing laws. We are one of the largest chapters in the nation, with about 250 members. Many property managers also advertise through various media.
I recommend that you speak to several different property managers to determine if their personalities and management styles are compatible with yours. You should feel comfortable that the property manager is competent and ethical and that they are up to date with State and Federal laws. Remember that the property manager will also be interviewing you at the same time to make sure that they can work well with you.
Management: What is the property manager going to do for you? How will they advertise, show the unit, process applications, check-in and check-out tenants and deal with problems? Will they handle everything
for you, or are you expected to do some of the work? Do they handle rentals in the area where your unit is located? How do they view their role in this partnership and what is their management style?
Office: Some companies manage thousands of units and others just a handful. Some have a large staff and some work by themselves. Some have an office that is open and staffed completely every day and some work mainly from their homes. Of course, all the property managers I know are available via phone or email for emergencies and have someone to handle their properties in their absence.
Fees: You may be willing to pay extra for the peace of mind that a good property manager can provide, but I’m sure fees are still a big factor in your decision. Ask what they charge and what is included in that fee. Some companies charge a flat fee and some a percentage of the rent. Some charge additional for paying certain bills, for drafting a new lease or renewing a lease, for overseeing repairs…for a myriad of reasons. Even though the base fee may be lower, additional fees can certainly add up. Make sure you understand and agree with all the fees that you will be responsible for.
Repairs: Most property managers have trusted vendors that they use for the majority of their maintenance and repair work. Some even have maintenance companies within their property management companies. Make sure that the way the property management company handles repairs and billing is acceptable to you.
As an owner, you are ultimately liable for anything your property manager does, so be sure that the property manager is someone you feel comfortable working with and that they are competent and trustworthy enough to take care of your investment. You will have to make several calls to potential property managers to find one that fits your requirements and your personality. Also remember that you may be able to deduct a portion of your travel to Hawaii if the purpose of the trip is to find and interview property managers. Good luck.