Maintaining and caring for religious buildings aren’t as simple as they once were. In today’s economy, many churches are renting space to other congregations, community organizations, and daycares — some even manage their own affordable housing complexes.
All of these relationships can fit quite nicely within a faith-based mission to serve the community, but they also create extra obligations for church staff. The responsibilities of managing a building can add up quickly. If your church’s real estate holdings are getting in the way of your primary mission, it’s time to look for a property management team.
What Do Property Managers Do?
o Your property management personnel are responsible for making sure everything’s in shape, from arranging plumbers to come out in an emergency to keeping an eye on the state of the building’s roof and planning for repairs. Proper upkeep prevents problems later on and ensures that the property is maintained for future lease or sale.
o It’s your property manager’s responsibility to assess any prospective tenants, including running credit checks to make sure they’ll be able to pay rent on time.
o A good property management team will negotiate the lease agreement with a tenant and enforce it once it’s signed. Some firms, including DCG Strategies, will help you research the market rate for similar leases and use this (as well as any other considerations the church has) to inform how much rent is charged. If any tenant problems arise (late rent payments, noise complaints, property damage), the property management will act as your go-between to handle them.
o Part of a property manager’s job can be to ensure tenants are paying their rent timely and in accordance with the lease agreement. For churches, it can be especially helpful to have a third party do this, rather than the pastor or church leadership.
o Property management teams also have the capacity to appropriately handle the various monthly and annual property-wide expenses like utilities, taxes, insurance, etc, in a specific manner that is advantageous to the church. You can rest easy knowing that garbage collection has been scheduled, for example, and your church’s insurance premium is paid on time has not been forgotten.
Compliance with Relevant Laws
o All rented properties in California must adhere to a minimum standard of habitability, as well as local building codes and accessibility requirements. Property management should be familiar with any regulations that apply to your property and will keep you informed of any changes that need to be made.
Advantages of Hiring a Property Management Team
Not every building owner needs a dedicated property management team, but it can be helpful for religious buildings in particular to employ one. The duties required are probably very different from what your church staff normally performs, making it difficult to quickly pivot from planning a Sunday school lesson to answering a tenant’s call about a broken heater.
It’s also useful to have a barrier in place between the church and its tenants. Leasing a property is a business transaction and requires maintaining a professional owner-tenant relationship. Even if the lease agreement is part of your church’s mission, it’s easier to separate it from the day-to-day requirements of property management. Your property manager can also help churches become better stewards of their property, as they are likely to stay informed of any repairs or improvements that need to be made.
What to Consider When Hiring a Property Manager
When deciding on a property manager, look for someone who’s organized and has excellent customer service skills. Remember he or she will act as a mediator between you and the tenants as well as an advisor for any tenant and property-related issues. If you’d like the property management team to negotiate leases and find prospective tenants for your space, you’ll need to find someone who has a real estate broker’s license, as required in California.
Aside from those basics, consider the qualities that will make him or her a good fit for your church. Do they understand your mission and goals for the property? Do they have similar experience working with religious buildings or nonprofits? It’s easier to work with someone who is already familiar with how a church is organized and who can advocate for your larger goals.
If your religious buildings, schools, or other properties need property management help, contact DCG Strategies to find out more. Our team of real estate experts is experienced in working with faith-based organizations and would love to help you succeed.