Dear PoPville – Rental Company Recommendations

Photo by PoPville flickr user Rich Renomeron

Dear PoPville,

Can anyone recommend a good rental property management company? In a few months, I’ll be moving overseas, so managing the rental by myself is probably out of the question.

What is the typical fee structure (flat monthly/yearly fee vs. percentage of rent)? Does the management company take care of everything, or are there still aspects I’ll be involved with? Since it’s a rowhouse, will the management company take care of the yard and flowerbeds (very minimal in my case) or will I need to manage that separately?

47 Comment

  • I can certainly tell you one to avoid. It starts with an “E” and ends with an “F”

    • Seconded, though from the renter’s perspective. I was interested in a couple of their rentals not long ago, but became concerned when I noticed that they had been sitting open on the market for several months. To make matters worse, the ‘agent’ refused to return my emails or phone calls, instead referring me to his very limited schedule and sending me numerous copies of the incorrect application forms. I won’t be handing them tens of thousands of dollars any time soon, and I feel bad for the owners who aren’t able to rent their otherwise beautiful and well-equipped units.

  • @beerdude – and somewhere in the middle there’s a “J”

  • Rental prices have skyrocketed in the last 6 months. I would suggest that you list your apartment at $300 more than what you think you can get for the place.

    • why charge more than you need to? this is a serious problem in this city. and i’ve found that if you charge a little less the tenants are much nicer and more forgiving of small issues (and you can choose from a larger group of applicants) — also it pays to be nice.

    • would you refuse a raise at your work?

  • They will do everything for you. They take a months rent if they have to find a tenant and ~10% every month there after.

  • Attache Property Management – they usually do furnished, high end places, but they’re sometimes flexible. I know the owner; he’s a great guy.

  • You could try the Rock Creek Group. I haven’t used them, but they are my neighbors and are nice, honest people.

    • As a renter from a Washington Property Management company I would strongly recommend NOT using them.

    • if by “very good” you mean “completely disorganized” and by “reliable” you mean “chronically unresponsive” then yes, I agree with this assessment.

    • I’ll second both comments above re: Washington Management. Horrid experience with them.

  • NOT Washington Management Company.

  • Don’t know where the property is and it seems that some tend to focus on certain areas. There is John C Format and Yarmouth. I haven’t used either so this is by way of options not recommendations.

  • I would suggest looking at Urbane Results if the property is located in NW

    As are most things in life the details are usually negotiable.

    • I used Urbane Results back in 2008-2009 and they were just AWFUL. My full review is here:

      • I have been dealing with Urbane for the last year for our 2 unit building and they have been just fine. I’ve had multiple repair issues that were addressed in timely manner. My tenants eem to be happy as well. So I believe your experience from 4 years ago might be dated. I almost exclusively deal with Robert and he is responsive and deals with almost all issues. Duringe process we interviewed 3 companies. I suggest anyone renting out their property to do the same.

  • Another vote for Yarmouth

  • Sorry for another “not” post…but definitely stay away from The New Washington Land Co. As a tenant of a wayward landlord, these folks have hired unskilled and untalented workers to fix things which more often than not made small problems bigger!

    • Have to second how bad New Washington Land Company is. Just worthless. They are 20 years behind the technology and they are difficult to communicate with during regular hours and impossible to talk to during an emergency.

  • I would stay away from Formant as well. They might be great for the owner (I can’t speak to that end of it), but they are awful to tenants

  • Just another “not” post – but NOT Weichert Property Management. They actually went missing, stopped returning calls to all parties involved, charged the landlord for things that never happened, and didn’t actually do the things they were supposed to – such as inspect the place once a year. I have so many bad things to say about them I can feel a knot forming in my chest just thinking about it.

  • I’m a big fan of Nest-DC. We’ve been renting a place they’re managing for about a year-and-a-half. Great folks. Great experience.

    • We’ve had great luck with Nest as well. They found great tenants for my bf’s house. We handle the maintenance on our own, but if we weren’t in DC, we’d definitely have them deal with that too.

    • I third the recommendation for Nest. We’ve rented from them for just over a year and they’re fantastic (though I don’t know how they are from a property management perspective).

      • I’m a big Nest fan, too. They have managed my property while I’ve been half a world away and done a great job. Would recommend them without hesitation.

    • I rented from Nest as well, and highly recommend them. Their staff are responsive, and you can tell from dealing with them that they are genuine and honest people. They are one of those local businesses that aren’t just a business for the sake of making money, but also for doing good in their community.

  • I manage my own property and it’s not too much work. I would recommend finding out if one of your reliable friends/acquaintances is willing to make a bit of extra money. Hire them to do the management for less than an management company.

    • Seconded. Assuming you’ll have ready access to phone/email while OCONUS, you can do most of it yourself. You just need a local person, perhaps, to go look at the water heater, for example, and see if it’s was turned off, or if you need to call the plumber.

      If you have a 202/other local VOIP number while overseas, all the better. the plumber, roof guy, etc, can just call you with the estimates and you can discuss.

      might be worth a try, and if it’s a miserable failure, *then* you get a management company.

  • We use Nest DC and they are great. They charge 90% of one month’s rent to market and lease the place and 10% for regular months. I found this to be fairly standard pricing. They take care of everything – we get our money deposited directly into our account, they communicate with the tenants and any repairmen we need. They only contact us when there is a repair needed (so basically never). We asked them to hire a landscaper for our yards, which I think was overpriced, but easier than finding someone ourselves.

  • I have found that management companies get your money coming and going. Your tenant report a plumbing problem, the management company dispatch a plumber to fix it. You get a $200 bill, figure the plumber may get $150 and the management company will collect $50. On top of that you are paying a fee to the management company each month. When I had rental property, it was a rare month that I got a full months rent, I was always paying for something that needed to be fixed.

  • As a renter, Real Property Metro is a NIGHTMARE. Totally unresponsive to repair requests, terrible hours, and never return a phone call.

  • CityLighst Realty Group

    Boutique Management and Sales-nothing but a great experience for both.

    • +1 cannot recommend Sally Hamidi and City Lights enough. They take care of any and everything for you. Worth every penny I pay in her commission.

      Also, I would suggest asking for a copy of the management agreement when emailing each of the companies in this post. Then you can directly compare costs, responsiveness to your request for info, and services offered (direct deposit of funds, electronic payment of rent by renters, etc) in making your decision. I found this to be particuarly informative even after getting personal recommendations. For me, I wanted someone responsive by email and transparent. Others that were highly recommended by others didn’t meet my needs in that way.

  • CityLights Realty Group

  • Chatel Real Estate was pretty awesome with me as a Renter

    • Chatel cashed my check for an application fee even though they assured me they would only do so if the first applicant wasn’t approved, and so I was out $50 for an apartment I was never considered for, and they wouldn’t return my phone calls. Not cool.

  • To Whom It May Concern:

    We are a small, local Property Managment Company that takes great pride and care in managing our clients’ properties. Because we choose to remain a small company, we provide hands on service second to none. Our philosophy is to take care of our client’s property with the utmost care and, just as importantly, take care of and provide timely services for their tenants. We believe by attending to the tenants needs will, by extension, help insure the best care for the client’s property.
    Michael Sullivan
    Michael Sulllivan Real Estate Services, LLC
    A Property Managment Company
    in Washington DC 202.686.7707

  • Try Slate Properties:

    They support my choir, the 18th St Singers, so they must be good people 🙂

  • Don’t use Long and Fosters. As a renter, they kept saying that we owed rent and that payments were late or rejected after we would send in bank statements that proved otherwise. They also never came in to fix things or call us back.

    Even the owner hated them, so once the contract was up, I’m just paying directly to him. It’s cheaper for both parties and more reliable, but it is only because we built up nice trust with the owner.

  • Has anyone rented from two of the companies that own a lot of buildings around town – Willliam C. Smith and Bernstein?

  • As you can see, property management has a lot of varying opinions inherent in the process. The former tenant says, “Those guys never did anything,” and the former owner says, “Those guys did too much (especially spending money to fix things.)” The main thing to keep in mind is YOU are the leader because you own the property.

    As a property manager (who doesn’t feel the need to use this strand as advertising), I can give you a couple good points not yet stated. First thing to consider is location, location, location. Where is the property? It doesn’t make sense to use a Cleveland Park management company if you are on Capitol Hill. Find one that services your neighborhood because they know the challenges with the neighborhood and, most likely, the building and will have contacts with vendors who are better able to address things when needed. This translates to better care for the property and better service for the tenant.

    Second, that “10%” is NEGOTIABLE. Payment for the company comes from rent collected every month. Since you will be out of the country (and harder to reach), the company may need to spend more time and money servicing the property but if you don’t like 10%, ask for it to be lower. It’s your money.

    Third, decide on what level of involvement you want to have. If you don’t want to be bothered by anything, let them know and trust their input. If you want to know of medium to major work and expenditures, let them know a level (e.g. $250) you are comfortable with them handling without notice. If you want to know everything, expect a lot of emails with every tenant issue.

    Property Management is really about communication. He communicates the tenants requests to you, hopefully, with recommendations and communicates your wishes for the property to the tenant. And understands, though he may care for the property, he only works at your direction. YOU are the owner. Good luck.

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