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Understanding Property Management Fees: What You Need to Know

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

For residential landlords in Northern Virginia, understanding property management fees is essential for getting the best deal when selecting a reliable property manager. Property managers typically charge either flat rate or percentage based fees for their services. It's important to understand both of these fee structures as well as any additional costs that may be involved before making a final decision on which type of service works best for your situation. In this blog post we'll explore the pros and cons of each fee structure so you can make an informed decision about what kind of agreement will work out better financially in the long run.

Table of Contents:

Flat Rate Fee Structure

A flat rate fee structure is a common type of property management fee structure in which the landlord pays a fixed amount for services rendered. A flat rate fee structure can seem more predictability and sometimes is depending on the landlords needs. Generally though, flat rate models exclude numerous services that must be added-on for an additional fee. If you know that your monthly expenses will remain consistent, then it may make sense to opt for a flat rate fee structure instead of one based on percentages or other variables.

Flat Rate Fee Structure
Flat Rate Fee Structure

Cons of a Flat Rate Fee Structure include:

  • Lack of Flexibility: If your needs change over time, it may be difficult to adjust the fee structure. Limited Coverage: The flat rate may not cover all services that you need or want. Unpredictability: If costs increase for certain services, then the flat rate could become more expensive than anticipated.

  • Limited Services: If additional services are needed beyond what is included in the flat rate, they must be purchased separately.

  • Lack Of Flexibility: If your needs change over time (i.e., more tenants/residents), then it may not be cost effective to keep using the same flat rate.

  • Inflation: Over time inflation can cause the value of your fixed payment to increase significantly relative to market rates.

Examples of Flat Rate Fees include monthly fees, annual fees, and one-time setup fees. Monthly fees are usually based on a percentage of rent collected each month while annual fees can be paid in full at the beginning or end of each year. One-time setup fees are typically charged when setting up new rental properties and can range from $50-$500 depending on the complexity of the property management agreement.

  • Monthly Fees: A set amount paid each month regardless of tenant/resident activity or occupancy levels.

  • Annual Fees: An annual lump sum payment made at the beginning or end of each year.

  • One-Time Setup Fees: There is a one-time charge paid upon signing up (can apply to both fixed and percentage-based models)

Flat rate fees are an option for landlords but just be on the lookout for hidden junk fees (that's often how company's make up any differences). Depending on the company you choose, percentage based fee structures can offer more flexibility depending on the landlord's needs.

Percentage Based Fee Structure

A percentage based fee structure is a type of property management fee structure in which the landlord pays a percentage of rent collected as payment for services rendered. This type of fee structure can be beneficial for landlords who have multiple properties or fluctuating rental income, as they will only pay for what they use.

Percentage Based Fee Structure
Percentage Based Fee Structure

Pros of a Percentage Based Fee Structure: One advantage to this type of fee structure is that it allows landlords to pay only when their rental income is higher than expected, meaning that if there are months where the rental income is lower than expected, then the fees paid by the landlord would also be lower. Additionally, since these fees are taken from rent collected rather than an upfront cost like other types of property management fees, landlords may find them more manageable and easier to budget for.

Cons of a Percentage Based Fee Structure: On the other hand, this type of fee structure can be disadvantageous if the percentage taken from rent collected is too high or if there are months where rental income drops significantly due to vacancy rates or market conditions. However, some property management companies offer various flexibility with regard to vacancies.

Percentage based fee structures are an effective way for landlords to budget their expenses and ensure that property management services are cost-effective. However, it is important to understand the additional fees associated with property management before making a decision.

Additional Fees to Consider

When evaluating different property management companies, it is important to consider additional fees that may be charged in addition to flat rate and percentage based fees. Leasing fees are often charged when a tenant/resident moves into the property or renews their lease agreement. These fees can range from a few hundred dollars up to one month’s rent depending on the complexity of the transaction. Advertising and marketing fees are also common and can include costs associated with listing properties online, creating flyers, or other promotional materials used to attract prospective tenants/residents.

Maintenance and repair fees should also be taken into account as these will vary depending on how much work needs to be done around the property. Property managers may charge an hourly fee for maintenance services or they may have set rates for specific tasks such as plumbing repairs or painting walls. Legal and accounting services may also incur additional charges if legal advice is needed regarding leases or contracts, or if bookkeeping services are required for tracking rental income and expenses related to managing a property.

It is important for landlords to understand all of the potential costs associated with hiring a property manager before making any decisions, so that they can make an informed decision about which company best meets their needs at an affordable price point. The biggest thing to evaluate is how many additional "fees" the property manager charge.

Cheaper does not mean better! It is important to consider all additional fees when selecting a property management company, as these can vary greatly.

FAQs in Relation to Understanding Property Management Fees

What is a typical management fee percentage?

The typical management fee percentage for residential property management services varies depending on the size and complexity of the property. Generally, fees range from 8-12% of gross monthly rental income. This fee covers all aspects of managing a rental property, including tenant screening, rent collection, maintenance coordination, financial reporting and more. Additionally, some companies may charge additional fees for special services such as leasing or eviction assistance. It is important to research different companies to find one that best fits your needs and budget.

What are included in management fees?

Our management fees include a variety of services to ensure the best possible experience for both landlords and tenants/residents. We provide marketing, leasing, tenant screening, rent collection, maintenance coordination, accounting services and more. Our team is dedicated to helping you maximize your return on investment while providing excellent customer service. We also offer flexible payment plans so that our clients can choose the option that works best for them. With PMA’s comprehensive property management solutions you can rest assured knowing that your rental property is in good hands.

What is a property manager's first responsibility to the owner?

A property manager's first responsibility to the owner is to ensure that their investment is well taken care of. This includes managing the day-to-day operations, ensuring compliance with local laws and regulations, handling tenant relations, collecting rent payments, and maintaining accurate financial records. Property managers must also be proactive in identifying potential problems before they arise and take steps to mitigate any risks associated with owning rental properties. Finally, it’s important for a property manager to stay up-to-date on industry trends so they can provide valuable advice and guidance to their clients.


In conclusion, understanding property management fees is essential for landlords and tenants alike. Property managers can charge a flat rate fee structure or a percentage based fee structure depending on the services they provide. Additionally, there may be additional fees to consider when hiring a property manager such as marketing costs or tenant placement fees. Understanding these different types of property management fees will help you make an informed decision when selecting a residential property manager that meets your needs and budget.

Are you a landlord looking for reliable and trustworthy property management services? Look no further than Property Management Advisors! Our team of experts is here to help you understand the ins-and-outs of managing your rental properties, including understanding all applicable fees. Let us take the hassle out of being a landlord so that you can rest assured knowing your investments are in good hands. Contact us today to learn more about our residential management solutions and get started with PMA!

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