In the last few years, as a result of the property boom to foreigners on the Costa del Sol and in Andalucia in general, many people like to rent out their property rather than leave it empty for part of the year. Other owners prefer not to rent out their private homes but worry about their house being unattended while they are away. Property management companies offer many different types of services to give you peace of mind while you are away.
Whether on the coast or inland, your Spanish property is a valuable asset and can offer extra income with minimal hassle if sensibly managed. Since the likelihood is that if you rent your Spanish property out you will not be in Spain at that time, it makes sense to use a property management company. Even people who live in Spain and have two or more properties often prefer to leave all or some of the upkeep, administration and marketing to the professionals.
When choosing a property management company, there are many important considerations, including:
- The company's past experience / client base
- Legal knowledge of rental contracts, deposits, payment, etc.
- Capacity to market your property to full advantage (where applicable)
- Local knowledge / Spanish and English spoken
- Different combinations of management contract on offer
- Specific services and charges - for example:
- Advertising your property for rental
- Organising bookings
- Cleaning before occupancy
- Garden/Patio maintenance/irrigation
- Pool maintenance
- Meeting and dropping off at airport
- House maintenance and emergency contact for renters
- Welcome pack
- Security checks
- Car care and cleaning
There are many property management companies and rental agents. You should bear in mind from the outset that not all property management companies organize rentals and not all rental agents become involved in property management. However, some companies may offer to take charge of both.
There are many advantages in using a specialist property management company. Whether for straightforward property care or for looking after your home while it is rented out long or short term - having a good company in charge of your home can be a sound investment.
What will be expected of you?
Once you have chosen the company you would like to look after your property, a representative will carry out an inspection visit to your property and may even ask you to make some modifications to the house or garden. For example, if you have a private swimming pool, you may be asked to have the pool depth clearly marked. Electrical, gas and water installations should be checked to ensure everything safe and in working order. If you want to keep an eye on your possessions and house contents, you will be expected to make your own detailed inventory. Whereas in the UK a rental agent or property management company may arrange this through the services of an inventory clerk, this is not normal practice in Andalucia. You may, however, be required to provide extra bed linen, towels or even crockery, depending on the number of people who can stay in your property.
Things to look for in a rental agency or management company
A professional management company with a good track record will probably think of many things that may not have occurred to you to make the rentals run more smoothly. An experienced company should be able to foresee problems and where possible avoid them. They should check out the renters and ask for a deposit to cover possible damage and breakages. They will also ask for a deposit on the rental price, which should normally be in your possession before the people take up residence in your house. Some companies pay you the full amount up front and others work on a monthly accounting basis. Usually contracts offering many services will take the management fee from the rental money and then make a transfer to your bank account.
What should you expect to pay?
Most companies in Andalusia take between 10% and 15% of the rental price for marketing and general management on long and short-term rentals. I spoke to Anna of JPA Management, a small, family run company covering the area from Marbella to Benalmadena (including Mijas village). She told me that they worked on a flat fee basis for many of their clients who leave their homes empty while they are not in residence. In this case, they charge 60 euros a month to look after a two bedroom flat and from 140 - 160 euros a month for a 4 bedroom villa. JPA regularly checks that the property is secure, clean and well maintained. They also make sure the property is ready in a welcoming state before the client's arrival.
A good property management company with its local knowledge can sometimes offer extra services, such as overseeing a building project for home improvements, recommending other professional services such as consultations with a lawyer, architect, or builder and translation services etc., booking green fees or even organising babysitters. If your time is limited, you don't speak much Spanish and you are not well acquainted with the Spanish law on property rental, the full service of a good property management company could be the answer.
Other options for renting include:
Rent through a Tour Operator
Some owners opt for going straight to tour operators, who may ask for exclusivity for the rental of your property for high season. This is usually so that they can include it in their brochure. Learn to negotiate dates with them. These companies will provide photos and text to advertise your property on the internet, as well as in their brochures. One such company that operates all over Andalucia is First Choice Holidays. Although they will not manage your property and you will need to enlist a 'house manager' or pay a property management company, you will have a better chance of getting more short-term rentals through having access to a much bigger market - in this case the UK and Germany. You also have the backing of a sound company with more security when it comes to rental payment.
Advertise your rental on the internet
Unless you are a website wizard, building your own site to rent out a property can be time consuming, expensive and ultimately may not reach many people's attention.
There are direct sites already set up, where you can send photos and text describing your property and location, etc and just pay an annual fee (perhaps around £165 per year) and then take the bookings and payment yourself.
Of course, there are always potential pitfalls when renting out any property. As long as you choose a reputable property management company and are clear and happy with the terms and conditions from the outset, you should have no cause for complaint. With long-term rentals, there is always the unlikely possibility that a tenant will not pay rent and refuse to leave. Then a legal battle follows, to recover money and your property. A good property management company will ensure that the rental contract and the length of rental time give you the maximum guarantee and best return.
Although you may calculate that you will save money by dealing with marketing and renting out your property yourself, be aware of the time you will need to spend setting up and running the rentals and the potential problems that can occur. A trustworthy, efficient property management company could be worth its weight in gold.