Active vs passive property management

When you’re in property management, you realise quite quickly that a large part of the job involves training yourself to be tolerant and adapting to other people. 

Because let’s face it, when you’re managing somebody else’s property there’s one figure in the equation that it’s most important to adapt to—the owner. 

Though it’s impossible to follow some precise scheme of human behaviour, you can find helpful patterns to guide your actions. One of them is to realise when active property management is more appropriate than passive

The owner might not provide you with all the necessary information on how to communicate and deliver results. That’s when psychological analytical skills might come in handy. 

Some people have an active approach to life in general, while others are more receptive. This can simply be due to different personality traits. The same applies to property owners, as some might want to be fully included in the process and receive day-to-day information about their estate, while others will be more laid back and let you handle everything with full confidence. 

To find out how to behave in both situations, let’s go through some basic differences between an active and passive approach in property management


Choosing tenants

The number one thing that’ll make your life easier is choosing the right tenants. As a property manager, you are on the communicational front line with tenants, so selecting responsible tenants that are easy to work with should be your priority. Property advertising and tenant screening are basic parts of the process. If done properly, they will save your time and energy in the future. 

Active approach

Active property services, in this case, mean keeping the owner up-to-date during the entire process. You may want to inform them about advertising methods, maybe even discuss it with them first. As the applications arrive, consider informing the owner about the type of interest you are receiving or consult them on which tenant profiles to choose for the interviews. Maybe they would like to be included in the screening process as well. 

You may interpret this as annoying at first glance, as it seems like someone is meddling in your business, but it can actually be quite useful. Owners who prefer an active approach will provide you assistance, detailed explanations, and the chance of you making a mistake will be much lower. 

Passive approach

In this case, the owner will probably give you a free hand and just wait for the result. You will run the process by yourself and notify them once you’re done. Consider sending an email with detailed info on the number of tenants, their profile(s), leasing length, and details. 

A passive owner probably won’t meddle any further in the renting process, so after the tenant moves in, communication with them will be mostly up to you. 

Maintenance and inspections

In regular lease agreements, the owner obliges to take care of the property maintenance. When the owner collaborates with a property manager, they start sharing this responsibility. An efficient and preventative approach to maintenance will benefit you (and the owner) in the long run, so conducting regular inspections is something you shouldn’t avoid. 

Active approach

This means informing the owner about the inspection and preventative maintenance results. You may want to enclose photos, detailed reports, and price estimates. 

Engaged property owners will appreciate your responsiveness and perhaps participate in the final decision-making. 

Passive approach

As mentioned above, passive owners probably don’t want to pry too much, so consider making a deal on when and how to inform them about inspection and maintenance results. This can be in the form of a quartal report, for example. That being said, make sure to notify them if something unplanned happens so they can prepare themselves for additional costs.

Administrative data

This aspect of property management involves the above-mentioned reports on tenant selection, inspections, maintenance, but also rental income, bill payments, and complaints. As a professional property manager, you probably diligently maintain these records regardless of your owner’s wishes. Maybe you are using property management software to keep this data well-organised and in one place, and if you don’t, we highly recommend it. 

Active approach

If you’re collaborating with an active property owner, they will probably want to see administrative records frequently. Make sure you keep them well-organised and updated in an easily accessible document. An engaged property owner will appreciate this possibility to navigate through the necessary information. They may even be of help, as there is another pair of eyes checking on the numbers and tables. 

Passive approach

If you are on your own with administrative tasks, make sure to diligently run all records, as you will be the only one to enter and check the data, at least most of the time. Consider providing the owner with login access in case they decide to take a look or inform them about major changes from time to time. 


Among all the things property managers need to do, adapting to a given situation comes first. Sometimes, adapting can mean choosing between an active and a passive approach in property management. Analysing an owner’s needs and habits can help you decide whether they prefer to be super-engaged in the entire process or they’re more laid back and like leaving everything to you. Tenant selection, maintenance, inspections, and administrative data are just some of the areas where you can choose between applying an active or passive approach, so choose wisely. 

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