Licensed Vs. Unlicensed Property Management

Contrary to popular belief, there is no governmental license designated as a “property management” license. The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) does have a Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation; however, the IREM is a private company and not a regulatory organization. There are also other third party certifications. It may be useful to have these certifications, because it could increase your credibility, but it’s not a legal requirement. That said, there is a government license that is required for some activities of a property manager: a real estate broker’s license.

Not all of a property manager’s activities require a broker’s license, and not all activities requiring a license are performed by all property managers, even if they are licensed. Two common property management services that do require a license are managing the operations of income property and collecting rent. Other things requiring a license are less commonly done by property managers: listing and marketing the property for lease or rent, locating income property, listing prospective tenants, and trading in leasehold interests. A property manager with a broker’s license could also designate an employee to perform these tasks, but the employee must have a brokers-associate license or a sales agent license.

There are still some things you can do as an unlicensed property manager, if you are managing an apartment or vacation rental. You can show available units and facilities, provide information about listed rates and provisions, provide application forms and answer questions about them, and accept screening fees, signed agreements, and rent and security deposits. Note that while a license is required to collect rent for an income property, it is not required to collect rent on apartments or vacation rentals. In addition, no license is required to act as a property manager if the income property owner has given you “attorney in fact” under a power of attorney as a result of temporary inability.

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