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The Ultimate Guide to Property Management in Ocala, FL: What You Need to Know

The Ultimate Guide to Property Management in Ocala, FL: What You Need to Know

Ocala, Florida, is a gem of a city offering a balanced combination of adventure, natural beauty, excellent weather, and a strategic location. All this, along with a relatively stable real estate market, has made it a prime location for property investment. Owning rental property here can be lucrative, and you’ll have the opportunity to earn a steady income and enjoy long-term value appreciation at the same time. But in order to maximize returns on your investment, you will need to make sure that your properties, whether residential or commercial, are managed effectively.

Managing rentals properly, however, requires time, knowledge, and effort. Navigating tenant relations, managing finances, and staying on top of repairs as well as new laws and regulations can be overwhelming, whether you’re a seasoned investor or a first-time landlord. Enter property management: a valuable service that can be the key to your success as a real estate investor.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what you need to know about property management in Ocala, FL. Read on to learn more about the benefits of working with a professional, how to choose the right company, what strategies you can take to maximize rental income, and more.

WHY HIRE A PROPERTY MANAGER?

It may seem appealing to manage your own rentals, especially if you have a smaller portfolio, but this is the kind of task that often snowballs into work that becomes more and more demanding and time consuming. Consider, instead, the myriad benefits that working with a professional Ocala, FL property management company can bring:

  • It’s convenient and it saves time. Property managers handle the day-to-day tasks, from rent collection and tenant screening to maintenance requests and enforcing lease terms. This frees up your time so you can focus on more important things such as growing your portfolio.
  • Have their experience and expertise work for you. Leverage their in-depth knowledge of the Ocala real estate market as well as their experience with maintenance, landlord-tenant laws, and so on.
  • Let them handle tenants. Finding the right tenants and maintaining good relationships with them can be two of the trickier aspects of being a landlord. An experienced property manager will do all of that for you, ensuring that your property will always be tenanted and that you’ll enjoy higher tenant retention.
  • Legal compliance. Rental laws are updated often, and it’s part of a property manager’s job to stay abreast of any changes and make sure that your properties and practices are in compliance.
  • Easier rent collection and financial management. Your property manager will ensure timely rent payments, handle any necessary financial transactions, and provide you with reports about your property so you can make better decisions.
  • Access their professional network. A seasoned property manager will know which contractors and service providers are reliable and cost effective, saving you money and headaches in the long run.

Who should consider hiring a property manager?

Property management offers numerous benefits, but it’s also important to assess your individual needs and situation. In our experience, you will want to hire a property manager if:

  • You already own multiple properties and/or live far from Ocala.
  • You don’t have the time to manage your properties, whether due to work or personal commitments.
  • You’re a first-time investor and don’t have the necessary experience.
  • You’d like to minimize the stress that comes with maintaining both the property and tenant relationships.
  • You want to maximize your rental income.

The Ultimate Guide to Property Management in Ocala, FL: What You Need to Know

FINDING THE RIGHT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY

So now you’re ready to hire a property management firm in Ocala — great! Here’s how you will want to go about it:

  • Consider if you want to hire one person vs. a team. You can choose to work with an independent professional or with a company. Independent real estate property managers can work if you only have a few rental units. However, bear in mind that they likely have other properties to look after as well, which can split their focus.
  • Do your due diligence. Research the company’s reputation and find out how long they’ve been in the business and what their track record is in managing properties that are similar to yours. Check if they have any accreditations, if they have any reviews online, and if they have complaints filed against them. You can also lean on your network and see if there’s a property management team in Ocala that your friends, colleagues, and family recommend. Though remember not to take referrals at face value — trust, but verify.
  • Ask essential questions. These include: what their preferred method of communication is, the average time they take to fill a space, the size of their team, and the number of units they’re currently handling. Property managers are expected to bring a wealth of knowledge and professional experience and they should be able to answer these questions fairly quickly; if they can’t, that’s a pretty sizable red flag.
  • Compare services offered and fees. When choosing among different companies, make sure you understand the full range of services that each offers, what is or isn’t included in a particular package, and what the fee breakdown is.

LEGAL & REGULATORY CONSIDERATIONS FOR PROPERTY OWNERS

Understanding Florida’s landlord/tenant laws is crucial for both you, the property owner, and your property management company. You will want to be aware of:

  • Rental rates. Florida has loose restrictions on raising rent as it recognizes the importance of staying competitive. Landlords can raise the rent amount when the rental lease term is up. No state laws govern the notice for rent increase nor is there a cap on the maximum amount you can charge.
  • Security deposits. While Florida’s landlord-tenant laws do not impose a specific cap on how much you can charge for a security deposit, it is important to note that it’s also stated that the amount should be reasonable. The Florida landlord and tenant statute also provides that landlords must hold the security deposits in an escrow account, which cannot be commingled. Note as well that HB 133, which enables landlords to charge a monthly fee instead of a security deposit, has been effective since July 1, 2023.
  • Fair housing. Understand the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability in housing-related transactions. The Florida landlord and tenant statute also states that information received during a background check cannot be used to discriminate against individuals based on federally protected characteristics, including familial status, race, age, gender, or religion.
  • Terminating a lease and eviction procedures. These must strictly adhere to state regulations, including the required notice periods and court proceedings. Florida also does not allow landlords to ask tenants to leave before the end of the lease contract, except in cases where the tenant violates the lease terms.
  • Property maintenance. Be aware of your responsibilities as a property owner and landlord to provide safe and habitable living conditions for your tenants. Get familiar with property maintenance codes. Note that tenants have the right to withhold rent “when the lease is silent on the procedure to be followed to effect repair or maintenance and the payment of rent relating thereto, yet affirmatively and expressly places the obligation for same upon the landlord, and the landlord has failed or refused to do so, rendering the leased premises wholly untenantable.”

Licensing requirements for property managers

This part of our guide explains Florida’s property management licensing requirements and the types of property management certifications in the state.

  • Florida does not have a specific property management license. However, in general, a real estate broker’s license is required since property managers deal with the leasing of properties. The state requires this license from property managers engaging in leasing operations, lease negotiations, signing agreements, and presenting rental properties.
  • These are the minimum requirements:
    • Must be at least 18 years old
    • Must have a United States Social Security number
    • Must complete 63 hours of real estate coursework through an approved provider (coursework is valid for two years from the date of completion) or have a four-year degree in real estate
    • Must pay the application fee and complete the application form
    • Must pass a final exam
    • Must be truthful about all information provided and pass a background check

In addition to obtaining a Florida real estate license, property managers may also choose to join or obtain certification from different organizations to further their career. These include:

  • National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM®)
  • Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
  • National Apartment Association (NAA)
  • Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA)

The Ultimate Guide to Property Management in Ocala, FL: What You Need to Know

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND MAXIMIZING RENTAL INCOME

Maximizing your rental income requires a multipronged approach, and it’s a process where a property manager can often be an invaluable partner. Here are some key strategies to consider:

  • Set competitive rental rates.
    • Local trends: Your property management company should have the data and expertise to analyze market trends in the Ocala area and provide you with insights that take into consideration the property type, location, amenities, and current competitor rates.
    • Dynamic pricing strategies: Explore options such as seasonal adjustments, lease term discounts, or bundled packages with utilities to attract tenants and optimize income.
  • Minimize vacancy rates.
    • Effective marketing: Your property manager can leverage their network and professional marketing channels to showcase your property and attract high-quality tenants.
    • Virtual tours and professional photography: Prospective tenants have become used to seeing high-quality visuals. You will want to invest in these so you can paint a compelling picture of your property and make it stand out from the crowd.
    • Tenant retention programs: Strategies such as rent renewal incentives, loyalty rewards, or tenant appreciation events can encourage your tenants to stay on longer.
  • Reduce operating expenses.
    • Preventive maintenance: A preventive maintenance program will catch issues early and save you from having to make bigger, costlier repairs in future.
    • Vendor relationships: No need to vet contractors; take advantage of your property manager’s well-established professional network.
    • Energy efficiency upgrades: Appliances, lights, etc. that are energy efficient can also help you save money in the long run.
  • Collect rent efficiently.
    • Online platforms: Tenants often appreciate the convenience that online rent payment options provide. These also help streamline the actual collection process and make it easier for tenants to pay on time.
    • Late payment fees: You will want to have a clearly outlined late payment policy that your property manager will consistently enforce so as to discourage delinquencies.
  • Get regular financial reporting.
    • Communicate regularly: Make sure you and your property manager communicate consistently and that you get regular financial reports on your property that detail the income, expenses, overall performance.
    • Tax considerations: Consult with a financial advisor so you will know what tax deductions you can make and what strategies you can implement to maximize your after-tax returns.

All in all, managing your property’s income and expenses requires careful planning and close monitoring. Here are some other general tips for tracking and managing rental income and expenses:

  • Create a budget and stick to it
  • Document all income and expenses
  • Monitor rental income and payments
  • Go through your records regularly

The Ultimate Guide to Property Management in Ocala, FL: What You Need to Know

KELLAR REALTY: YOUR TRUSTED PROPERTY MANAGERS

Property management plays a vital role in the success of real estate investments in Ocala, FL. By understanding the benefits of hiring a property manager, working with the right property management company, and implementing effective financial management strategies, you can optimize your returns and ensure your long-term success.

Our team at Kellar Realty & Property Management is here to help you achieve your investment goals. Whether you require comprehensive residential property management services or just need help with some aspects, we’re here for you. Our team includes Military Specialists and a Certified Negotiation Expert, all committed to getting you the best possible outcome.

We are the leading real estate company in Ocala, Florida! Contact the Kellar Realty Team by calling 904.269.7253 or 904.644.8674 or emailing us You can also send us a message here if you have any real estate and property management inquiries.