Recently, we discovered that another company has purchased Google advertising using our name. When someone clicks on the ad, it takes the person to a competing national property management company with a branch in Minnesota.

While this type of behavior isn’t against Google’s terms of service, it is troubling for several reasons. Most importantly to consumers, however, it points to the importance of trust in a property management company. Residents rely on property managers to be honest from the start, so it’s critical to choose a company that believes in transparency and has a strong code of ethics. Here are a some things to consider before choosing a property management company.

No Widespread Regulation

Unlike other industries, the property management industry isn’t tightly regulated. This means when someone hires a property management company, they must rely on that company’s credentials and referrals. A business can engage in questionable practices for years without being called on it, a fact that is alarming to many property owners.

One way many homeowner associations get themselves into trouble is choosing the company offering the lowest rates. While reasonable rates should certainly be a factor in making a final choice, HOAs should also have conversations with the company and carefully review the list of services they’ll be providing.

Why Trust Is Important

A respected property management company typically has a full slate of preferred vendors with whom they have built strong, trusting relationships. This means when work needs to be performed, the property manager can make a few calls and make it happen. Because trusted property managers have worked hard to develop long-term working relationships with professionals in a variety of fields, they’ll be able to get someone on site quickly to make repairs or upgrades as requested.

With a shady property management company, property owners usually learn relatively quickly that a bad reputation leads to bad relationships with partners. This means when they need to make repairs, they may be required to place repeated calls before they can finally get help. They may even bring in unlicensed contractors who fail to follow the laws in the area, putting a property owner or the association at risk if an injury occurs.

Management Agreement Discrepancies

When an HOA chooses a property management company, a management agreement outlines the services that will be provided. An unethical management company may try to sneak in fine print that may cause problems later on. The right property manager won’t engage in such behaviors and may even go above and beyond what the management agreement lays out, especially if  an unforeseen problem arises with the property.

A homeowner association needs to know that the chosen property management company can be trusted. By researching the management company and conducting interviews beforehand, property owners can get the best possible company to care for its residents’ needs.