Hey, Is It Maintenance, Property Management or Administration?

2014-03-01 Property Management

Think It’s Property Management?  

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RIGHT OFF THE BAT LET’S CLARIFY A FEW POINTS. First, a property manager can be an employee of the property owner (or the manager might be the property owner him/herself) or may be a separate business retained by the property owner.

Second, a property manager can reside and/or have an office on the managed property (often referred to as an “on-site” manager), or may reside and/or have an office elsewhere (an “off-site” manager). Usually a property owner will retain full-service off-site property management but if property owner wants to save money or perform a handful of operational duties, some management firms allow the owner to select or customize certain functions for consulting, monitoring, troubleshooting and/or specific support services.

The third point of clarification is the term “property management” itself. For too long a mention of property management has been similar to a mention of property maintenance, which confusion not only continues in some circles but seems more frequent on residential properties. But they’re different.

Basically maintenance is involved with manual repairs to and upkeep of a property’s physical features while property management is concerned with all aspects of the property, including maintenance. Unfortunately too many still incorrectly view the property manager as a maintenance person who just happens to also collect rent. Adding to the confusion are properties where this scenario actually exists or where the maintenance person (sometimes known as the property or building superintendent) is an employee who has the added job of property manager.

Most folks seem to have a fundamental understanding of maintenance work. It is physical, obvious and frequently involves inconvenience or worse, causing the problem–and the repair–to be remembered. If a tree on the property falls against a building or a roof begins to leak the maintenance employee or firm is dispatched.

However, much of the property manager’s work is behind the scenes, thereby generating uncertainty as to what the manager does, other than collect rent. For instance, in the above example property management verifies the problem then authorizes maintenance to make the repair though few, if any, get to see that activity. Its a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Yet the duties of full-service property management span the entire spectrum of rental property responsibilities and tasks. This means property management should be, and most are, licensed and insured firms of trained/ experienced professionals accustomed to applicable law compliance, applicant screening, lease/ rule enforcement, compliant resolution, habitability, low vacancy rates, acceptable income/ expenses, etc. Thus the inaccurate interchanging of terms blurs the role of management.

Given the prolonged period of incorrect terminology use, the word “management” probably will always have some association with maintenance. So, in the interest of clarity the following definitions are offered: (i) The term “maintenance” should refer to maintenance; (ii) “property management” should refer to aspects of both maintenance and management; and (iii) “property administration” should refer to the overall running of the property.

Seems simple enough. Let’s see if the industry and time agree with these suggestions.


Need coaching, training or problem troubleshooting regarding the foregoing or other housing issues? Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com


Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation.

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