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Property management is the operation, control, and oversight of real estate as used in its most broad terms. Management indicates a need to be cared for, monitored and accountability given for its useful life and condition. This is much akin to the role of management in any business.
Property management is also the management of personal property, equipment, tooling and physical capital assets that are acquired and used to build, repair and maintain end item deliverables. Property management involves the processes, systems and manpower required to manage the life cycle of all acquired property as defined above including acquisition, control, accountability, responsibility, maintenance, utilization and disposition.
One important role of a "property manager" is that of liaison between the ownership or asset manager and the actual tenant/leasee tenant, providing a buffer for those owners who are desiring to distance themselves from their tenant constituency. Duties of property management generally will include a minimum of these basic primary tasks;:
There are many facets to this profession, including managing the accounts and finances of the real estate properties, and participating in or initiating litigation with tenants, contractors and insurance agencies. Litigation is at times considered a separate function, set aside for trained attorneys. Although a person will be responsible for this in his/her job description, there may be an attorney working under a property manager. Special attention is given to landlord/tenant law and most commonly evictions, non-payment, harassment, reduction of pre-arranged services, and public nuisance are legal subjects that gain the most amount of attention from property managers. Therefore, it is a necessity that a property manager be current with applicable municipal, county, state and Federal Fair Housing laws and practices.
Every state of Australia has different licensing and compliance requirements. Generally, to be able to provide property management services, a real estate licence is required. State of Victoria Australia information
In Canada, the laws governing property management and landlord/tenant relations are generally speaking a Provincial responsibility. Each Province and Territory makes its own laws on these matters. In most cases any person or company can offer property management services, and there are licensing requirements. Other than specific laws in each Province and Territory governing these matters, they are governed by English Common Law, except in the Province of Quebec where the Civil Code is used in place of English Common Law. In some cities, the Provincial Legislation is supplemented by City by-laws.
British Columbia - licensing of property managers is regulated by the provincial government and licensing by the BC Real Estate Council (BCREC).
Ontario - no licensing is required to operate, however ACMO - the Association of Condo Managers of Ontario is a self-governing body for certification and designation of its members who run buildings with more than 600 units. (RECO) the real estate council of Ontario, regulates licensed realtors in Ontario.
Residential property managers in New Zealand currently come in two types. Those that are licensed and those that are unlicensed. The New Zealand Government is reviewing whether all forms of property management need any legislation. New Zealand licensed property managers offer a full and complete service with qualified professionals who collect rent through an audited trust account to protect both investment property owners and tenants. Also licensed property managers adhere to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand property management code of practice which outlines industry best practices for dealing with the public. Unlicensed property managers do not require any registration, minimum knowledge or skill, or adhere to any code of practice to offer a property management service.
Consequently, the services offered in New Zealand are varied where both licensed and unlicensed property managers have a mixed track record in delivery services to this industry.
In the Republic of Ireland, there is no legal obligation to form a property management company. However, management companies are generally formed to manage multi-unit developments, and must then follow the general rules of company law in terms of ownership and administration.
Since July 2012, it has become mandatory for all property service providers, including property management companies, to be registered and fully licenced by the Property Services Regulatory Authority of Ireland.
The National Consumer Agency (NCA) has campaigned in this area, and in September 2008 it launched a website explaining consumer rights. The NCA does not have a legislative or regulatory function in the area, unless a consumer complaint is in relation to a breach of consumer law.
Most states require property management companies to be licensed real estate brokers if they are collecting rent, listing properties for rent or helping negotiate leases. A property manager may be a licensed real estate salesperson but generally they must be working under a licensed real estate broker. Most states have a public license check system on-line for anyone holding a real estate salesperson or real estate broker's license. A few states, such as Idaho, Maine, and Vermont do not require property managers to have real estate licenses. Other states, such as Montana, Oregon, and South Carolina, allow property managers to work under a property management license rather than a broker's license. Washington State requires property managers to have a State Real Estate License if they do not own the property. Owners who manage their own property are not required to have a real estate license in many states; however, they must at least have a business license to rent out their own home. Owners who do not live near the rental property may be required, by local government, to hire the services of a property management company.
In California, third-party apartment property managers must be licensed with the California Department of Real Estate as a Real Estate Broker. A broker's license is required for any person or company that, for compensation, leases or rents or offers to lease or rent, or places for rent, or solicits listing of places for rent, or solicits for prospective tenants, or negotiates the sale, purchase or exchanges of leases on real property, or on a business opportunity, or collects rents from real property, or improvements thereon, or from business opportunities. Businesses and Professions Code, Chapter 3, Article 1, Sec. 10131(b).
No specific regulatory or licensing body exists at this time (November 2012). However, under Financial business law, Any business offering Property Management as a chargeable, fee earning act of commerce may only do so if such services are listed in their Company Acts of Constitutions, i.e., legally pre-declared list of business activities. Under Romanian law, no business can derive income from any such service that is not declared in this way and should be demonstrable upon request by the client of legal entities.
In England property management companies are regulated by ARMA  a trade association for firms that manage private residential leasehold blocks of flats in England & Wales. ARMA promotes high standards of leasehold management by providing advice, training and guidance to its member firms of managing agents. ARMA also produces guidance materials for leaseholders and Residents Management Companies. With over 280 firms in membership, ARMA also campaigns for improvements in the legislation governing the leasehold sector.
Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA International) offers industry-standard designations that certify the training to property managers:
National Apartment Association (NAA) has the following designations:
National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) offers designations to certify ethical and professional standards of conduct for property managers:
State-specific designations include the following:
The Community Associations Institute also has designations in the United States for residential property managers who manage planned communities such as Condominiums, Home Owners Associations and Cooperatives. National designations include:
In the UK:
Property management software continues to grow in popularity and importance. As it decreases in price, smaller companies and amateur property managers are able to function using some of the same best practices and efficiency as larger companies. Online asset management software (OPMS, or online property management software) has been a major cause of the price declines. In addition to the core property management software options, there is a quickly growing number of closely related software products being introduced to the industry. Like the online property management software, most of these products are also online software, also known as software as a service (SaaS). This approach to software typically makes the barriers to entry far lower than the traditional box software alternatives. Many of these options are available for a demo period at no cost. While there is often a set up or licensing fee required at the time of implementation, the product cost is paid as a monthly fee and service contract often offer flexible terms. Like other non-product oriented services, the SaaS product will have a non-performance clause allowing the customer to discontinue service if the terms of the contract are not met by the provider.
Another benefit to these types of products/services is that upgrades are performed on the server-side by the software vendor and therefore require far less, or even no change management at all. While the software seller may choose to increase monthly costs at the renewal stage of the contract, there is no direct Upgrade cost as found in box software products. Many software services will also perform intermediate releases that have no noticeable change in product features, but they may repair many bugs and have iterative augmentations that have a positive effect for the user without having to install patches on their PC.
One of the most important roles in property management is the tenant screening process. The implications of carrying out this duty too lightly will cost money and possible damage to property.