Dear PoPville – Best management companies for landlords?

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s photos

“Dear PoPville,

We’re about to rent out a rowhouse in the H Street corridor. We’re trying to find a management company, but aren’t sure which companies come with the best consumer satisfaction from the perspective of landlords. Most of the reviews we see are from the perspective of tenants – which is good too, as we ultimately want our tenants happy – but ideally we’d be happy with them as well.

Do you have any thoughts on this?”

53 Comment

  • I would stay far, far away from Meyerson Group/Evers & Co. if you care about your property.

    I am a tenant in one of their houses, and while their totally hands off management style has made it very easy for us to do as we please, the owner has no idea how bad of shape the house is in at this point. They hadn’t been to the house in over 6 years until we told them we were moving out, and they chose to ignore some very serious structural issues when reporting back to the owner about what work needs to be done.

  • I’ve used Nomadic Real Estate for the past two years and have been very happy with their services. I do not recommend EJF.

  • On the flip side, are the tenants who think that their management company is great? If so, what are they?

    • Yarmouth Management on/near the Hill has been great! They are always quick to respond to repair requests.

      • Seconding the recommendation of Yarmouth. Used them years ago as a renter, and they were excellent as a tenant management company.

      • That certainly doesn’t sound like the Yarmouth I know. They were always an absolute nightmare to work with, and it was a huge pain to ever get them to get repairs taken care of in a timely manner. Maybe they’ve changed in the six months since I left?

  • DO NOT use Drachman. They are the worst I’ve ever seen.

  • Also does anyone have any tips for helping figure out all the paperwork to legally rent out a place you own? Do you need a property manager or can you do that yourself?

    • justinbc

      Form an LLC, you can use LegalZoom for this, it’s fairly easy. Your PM can then assist you with all the tax paperwork.

      • Think twice before you form an LLC if you are renting out 4 or fewer units in DC. You will lose your rent control exemption, if we’re talking old rowhouses (pre-1985). If you are renting out 5 or more units and lose the exemption anyway, or if they are post-85 or fall into some other exemption category, go ahead and use a corporate structure like an LLC.

    • are you talking about a lease or getting a C of O?

      • He might not be talking about either. I know for me, all I need to do to rent out my condo unit is to get a Basic Business License (BBL) — condo units don’t need Certificates of Occupancy — but the online directions/forms are confusing. I think there’s some company out there that will do the paperwork for you for a fee, but I don’t remember what it’s called. I don’t want/need a property management company, but I might want to hire a company like this to assist me in getting my BBL.

    • many pm companies will take care of getting your license, filing for rent control, canceling your homestead exemption, filing with the tax office and meeting the inspector for a fee. email me at cwb2564 at gmail dot com if you need help.

  • Nomadic is a mess, I live in one of the properties they manage…if you want the cheapest fix for any issue with no concern how well it was done/ how it will affect the house down the line/ how much it will cost later on go for it.

  • I live in an apartment managed by Scout Properties in Brookland. They’re fantastic, very responsive and helpful.

  • GiantSquid

    Can I rent your row home? Seriously.

  • I found Yarmouth to be very unprofessional and unreliable. I lived in a building that was falling apart, and unfortunately needed frequent repairs. Yarmouth would simply not respond to requests most of the time without repeated reminders and follow up emails and phone calls from me. I know some repairs ended up getting out of control and undoubtedly costing the owners of the property much more money than necessary because of Yarmouth’s poor communication and utter lack of responsibility.

    They relied on their contractors to notify tenants when they were coming to the properties, and to also notify them of what repairs were done. The contractors rarely did this, and several times entered my unit while I was in just my underwear. I spoke with one contractor about Yarmouth’s policy, and the contractor said that his customer is Yarmouth, and not the tenant. When I spoke with Yarmouth about this, they simply replied that that is their policy, and they are too busy to individually follow up on each repair.

    Everybody in my building dreaded having to work with Yarmouth, and all found the same difficulties in getting repairs in their apartments done.

    • justinbc

      Back when I was renting and looking to live in Capitol Hill it seemed like Yarmouth pretty much dominated that market. Although I never did business with them (due to their poor service in showing places), they definitely rubbed me the wrong way.

  • justinbc

    We use Urbane Results for our multi-unit place and they’ve been pretty good so far. The other company I was considering was Nest DC. It became a cost benefit thing and Urbane just slightly edged out Nest, from my perspective. I wish the communication were slightly better, but overall I would recommend them.

  • laduvet

    I recommend M squared – and do not recommend urban igloo or crescent PM.

  • Well, I can only offer tenant perspective, but:
    - Evolve Property Management was fantastic, responsive, involved, etc.
    - Delbe Property Management is AWFUL. Totally non responsive, had no idea what was going on in the property, and, frankly, they’re just assholes to deal with.

    • Evolve Property Management has been acquired by Wexford about 2 months ago and their service has since deteriorated rapidly. Wexford is run by Eric Kretschman, who is linked to a building fire in Mt.Pleasant a few years ago. Remember the Deauville? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/12/AR2009031203286.html

      • Ah, my experience with them is a few years old. Sad to hear it’s not the same quality. Disregard my recommendation!!

      • Evolve was spotty before the takeover. They always seemed understaffed, and turnover for maintenance is high. Communication with the owner was spotty. I went into my bathroom 1 day and there was a guy outside my window, and Evolve had no idea why. I’m only here because I’m paying below market rent, and it hasn’t increased.

        I use Citylights Realty for my condo and for the association generally, and I’ve found them to be good. Repairs are completed timely; although, they are on the smaller side. They even got my tenants to sign a new lease after they had already started looking elsewhere.

      • Evolve had terrible reviews when I was looking to move about 6 months ago.

        I live in a Novo building and they seem great, but I’m not sure if they deal with SFHs and individual condo units.

  • Has anyone actually used Willoughby for management purposes?

    • I can tell you from the renters perspective, that I wouldn’t recommend Willoughby. My past landlord, in Columbia Heights, was a slumlord, and we constantly complained to Willoughby (and the landlord) to fix all of the problems that we were having, and nothing ever came of it. They were not very responsive. It would usually take persistent complaining to get anything done.

  • Whatever you do, stay away from Barac Co.

  • I use Nest for my two properties in DC (I live in CA) – one rowhouse and one condo. They’ve managed both for several years and I’ve been really happy with their quality of service. I frequently forget I own these places since I so rarely have to do anything for them.

  • I am a renter with Nest and they’ve been fantastic

  • If you are staying local I recommend you do it yourself. It’s been pretty easy for me. All you need is to get a good plumber, hvac tech, electrician and you’ll be set. The biggest thing is finding the right tenant for your space. I encourage mu tenants to let me know immediately when someone is not working regardless of how minor it is.. ie: tenant said her garbage disposal wasn’t working- I took a look myself and there was a tea spoon stuck in blades. A 2 minute fix.

    • I agree so much on this. Even if you far away you can do this yourself if you can get a group if reliable people behind you. I live really near by and would be comfortable moving far away if I had my same reliable hvac, general contractor,plumber..etc. If they are honest not greedy and trustworthy it can be easy as pie. It also depends on you tenants too. If the call for every silly thing with out making some effort on their part. Got a slow drain, try some Drano first then call. Light fixture not working, try changing the light bulb. I have had calls for all these.

  • Do not use Urbane Results if you value your sanity, time, and money.

  • Don’t use Nomadic.

  • I recommend Mindel Management. They manage a building that I own a condo in, and have been fantastic for both me as a landlord, and our tenant.

  • I went a different route that I highly recommend. Rather than get a company and pay them 10% of my rent income (ridiculously high), I found a good contractor/handyman to take all the calls and do all the work himself. Way more reliable than a PM company and way cheaper too. The first guy I paid a flat fee of $300/month for three units but with the new person I pay a basic retainer of $125/month for him to take calls and for 1-2 hours of work. Beyond that he charges me a good rate. For a PM company these three units would cost more than $700/month and with this guy I get much better service. He notices when things are getting bad and need work and this saves me money. Only thing is that he doesn’t collect rent like a PM does, but I have good tenants who use auto bank transfers so I don’t have to do a thing after the initial setup. I recommend this if you can find someone good and trustworthy.

    • Would you be willing to share contact information on your handyman? Since it’s late and you might not see this, I’ll try to repost the question in the rants/raves thread tomorrow. I had a great handyman, but he’s disappeared and I’m looking for someone to use. I’d be happy to pay a monthly fee if he provides good service.

  • Look up whatever company you decide to use on the better business bureau site. And be very wary of companies based out-of-state (like franchises) because they often screw up on the stringent DC tenant laws. Their mistakes will get you into hot water even if it’s not your fault.

  • I can’t help but mention that I recently founded a residential property management company called Rent the District and I would love to manage your house for you. We are based in the H street corridor, so I am very familiar with the area. Though we are new, we have invested in technology to provide owners with constantly updated information about their properties. We’re always on call and our rates are comparatively low. Check us out! RenttheDistrict.com

  • Can’t rave about Nest DC enough. Great company. Helpful. Outstanding service and support to a first time landlord. Ask for Lisa the owner – she knows her business well!

  • As a landlord I’ve used Nomadic several times and recommend them. My wife used Yarmouth as both a tenant and landlord…awful on both accounts. Just terrible.

  • DO NOT USE Chatel Real Estate , Horrible service all around and will charge bogus fees for managing property !!!!!!!

  • I have to agree with the negative reviews of Yarmouth. My townhouse was managed by them initially but they couldn’t even get the date right on our lease. They also did not conduct a walk through when the previous tenants left.

    My landlord then switched the Habitat Realty. They have a wonderful handyman but their pm hates conflict and simply ignores problems (like the lady who rents the basement apartment) he does not want to deal with.

    • Yup. I used to be with Yarmouth, and they clearly didn’t do a walk through before I moved in. There were broken windows (which took them a full six months and repeated reminders to fix), and doorhandles falling off doors that were clearly not a new issue, among other things. They didn’t even bother cleaning the place, it was filthy.

  • Although a number of readers have already recommended Nest, I wanted to weigh in that they are hands down the best managment company! I’ve had a number of issues with tenants, repairs, etc, and Nest has dealt with all of them expediently, professionaly, and with great care! I can’t imagine using someone else. Do NOT use Tilton Bernstein.

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