Lucky me, I had landed a full-time dream job that was creative and fun. But like many dream jobs, the pay was incredibly low so I needed to supplement my income with some part-time work.
Although I loved the dream job, it had some wacky hours and more than a bit of physical activity.
When I saw a part-time job as a leasing agent at a nearby apartment complex — decent pay, flexible weekend hours, low stress — I thought that’d be a decent match.
What it involved was answering the telephone, talking to people about their backgrounds, showing prospective tenants the apartments and collecting rental applications. I’ve always been a bit nosy, so it seemed like a great fit for me.
I was paid to get familiar with the features and configurations of apartments (how many closets, bathrooms, ceiling heights and so on) so I could answer questions from prospective tenants. I watched as they were transformed from the empty, sometimes stinky messes that previous tenants left behind to attractive fresh-paint-smell units that were ready to lease. All of that appealed to me; plus I found it fascinating to find out what people did for a living from their rental applications — we got everyone from newly minted physicians to highly paid go-go dancers.
The job was a great fit for what I needed, but other similar ones might not have worked out as well. When I worked in property management, I found out that the jobs differed widely among property management firms that hired the leasing agents.
Here’s some of what I discovered:
Yes, I made more than minimum wage. Today, apartment rental agents make an average of $12 an hour or just about $32,000 a year for full-time work according to PayScale.com.
Now that’s not a windfall, of course, but some leasing agents receive other benefits including breaks on rent and various vacation or sick leave. And some apartment communities offer bonuses when agents prompt someone to lease.
Anyone who has rented an apartment or accompanied someone who did has an idea of the work. You greet the people who come into the office or model apartment. You explain details about the apartments that are available and the community, such as if play areas are available. You also provide a list of rents.
After that, though, it can vary. Some leasing companies want you simply to show the vacant apartments. It’s just like it sounds — you walk to the vacant apartment, unlock the door and answer questions of the prospective customer.
The property at which I worked only required me to do that and collect completed rental applications. I didn’t have to run credit checks, call references, or collect security deposits. When I was not busy with applicants — which was often especially during the winter — I was free to read books, write or talk on personal telephone calls.
That meant that I could actually do paperwork for my other job — as long as I promptly responded to prospective tenants.
Property management companies don’t always give their agents as much latitude. They may require agents to run the credit checks and make telephone calls to check references of prospective tenants, handle tenant complaints and even monitor the playgrounds, laundry rooms and other on-site premises. Some even want the leasing agents to do light housekeeping around the model unit.
So while working as a part-time rental agent suited me, it might not have if I went to another company. So, if it sounds intriguing to you, consider these things:
Before you apply…
- Understand the pay rate. I was paid per hour for my work. Some agents are paid a minimal rate and then receive commissions when applicants they talked to are approved and accept apartments.
- Ask about hours. Generally there is a full-time agent or agents at various properties who do the bulk of the leasing work on the property. Sometimes, especially during spring and summer months, part-time agents are needed to show units and answer prospective renters’ questions. Ensure you know if a shift is “yours” or if you would be expected to fill in as needed.
- Ask about security. I never felt unsafe, though I sat alone in a rental unit. Still I was in a very safe neighborhood in a safe part of town. Even so, strange things can happen. I had a two-way radio and could summon on-site help if needed. Even if you don’t think safety will be an issue, make sure you understand if security is available and how to summon them.
- Check benefits. One reason I became a rental agent is because I received paid vacation time after six months. That was unusual for a part-time job. I didn’t stay in the business, but if you do well at it as a side-gig, there is room for advancement. Some part-time rental agents became full-time employees at the management company that managed the complex. Others became full-time rental agents.
- Remember, the job comes first. One reason the management company liked me was that I stayed in the office. That seems pretty basic, but it’s tempting to take a long, off-site lunch when business is slow. Yes, I had a lot of downtime but was expected to be on-site for the majority of the hours I was assigned (I could run out for a few minutes to grab a fast food meal, but that was about it). The property managers also gave me high marks for consistently wearing business attire on the job.
- Consider that you can only advance so far without extra training. I was not interested in a career in property management, though the owners did offer me a full-time job. If I had accepted, I probably would have needed accounting, informational technology and other skills to move up the ladder.
- You will find job security, however. I enjoyed knowing that my skills could transfer, if needed, when my new husband and I moved out of the area. Wherever you go, apartment complexes are plentiful and the offices needed to be staffed days, weekends, and often holidays.
Ready to get started? You’ll find listings on all the major job sites but a better idea might be to go to an apartment complex of interest and talk to the agents. Area rental agents generally know each other and are often more than willing to tell you what jobs are available and what they entail.
Do you have a side gig or part-time job to supplement your regular work? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.