Property management without a license in 2024: The Role of Licensing in Property Management

Property management without a license

Managing rental properties without a license can indeed be risky and may lead to legal and liability issues in many states. Folks often ask “can i manage property without a license”. Well, here’s a summary of the risks and tips associated with managing rental properties without a license:

Risks of Managing Rental Properties without a License:

  1. Legal Penalties: In many states, there are civil and, in some cases, criminal penalties for managing rental properties without the required license.
  2. Liability: Property managers without a license may be held liable for damages that occur to properties or tenants, potentially leading to legal disputes and financial liabilities.
  3. Difficulty Finding Clients: Many landlords and property owners prefer to hire licensed property managers due to concerns about expertise and legal compliance.

Tips for Managing Rental Properties without a License:

  1. Manage Your Own Properties: In most states, property owners can manage their own rental properties without a license. If you own the properties you’re managing, this can be a viable option.
  2. Hire a Licensed Property Manager to Supervise: If obtaining a license yourself is not feasible, consider hiring a licensed property manager to oversee your property management activities. This can help you comply with state regulations and provide reassurance to clients.
  3. Be Cautious with Tasks: Be aware of the specific tasks that can and cannot be performed without a license in your state. Some states have restrictions on certain property management activities, such as marketing and leasing properties, which may require a license.
  4. Consult Legal and Regulatory Authorities: Consult with an attorney or your state’s real estate commission to understand the specific licensing requirements and regulations in your area. They can provide guidance on compliance and help you navigate the legal aspects of property management.

It’s crucial to stay informed about the laws and regulations governing property management in your state and take appropriate steps to ensure compliance. Complying with licensing requirements and seeking legal advice, if needed, can help you avoid legal issues and provide professional property management services to clients.

Alternative Options for Property Management

If you are interested in property management but do not possess a license, there are alternative options to consider. One option is to work under a licensed property management company. By joining a reputable company, you can leverage their established credentials and expertise while gaining practical experience in the field. This approach allows you to work within the legal framework and build your professional reputation.

Another option is to partner with a licensed property manager. Collaborating with a licensed professional can provide you with valuable guidance and mentorship while ensuring compliance with licensing requirements. This partnership can be mutually beneficial, allowing you to contribute your skills and knowledge while benefiting from the licensed manager’s expertise and credentials.

The Importance of Licensing for Property Managers

Licensing for property managers is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Ensures Proper Knowledge and Compliance: Licensed property managers are educated in landlord-tenant laws, fair housing regulations, and legal requirements. This knowledge helps them avoid legal issues and protect both property owners and tenants.
  2. Establishes Credibility and Professionalism: The licensing process, which includes coursework, exams, and background checks, verifies a property manager’s skills and ethical standards, proving their expertise and commitment to the profession.
  3. Enables Independent Operation: A property management license allows individuals to work independently, without needing supervision from a real estate broker, giving them the freedom to make their own operational decisions.
  4. Enhances Client Trust and Marketability: Property owners are more likely to trust and hire licensed professionals. A license indicates adherence to industry standards and ethical guidelines, making licensed property managers more competitive in the market.

While licensing requirements differ by state, licensing remains essential for legal compliance, professionalism, independence, and client trust in property management.

Property Management License Cost

The cost of a property management license can indeed vary by state and the type of license required. Here are some examples of property management license costs in different states:

License Fees Comparison

These figures are provided as examples and may be subject to change. It’s essential to check with the relevant licensing authority in your state to obtain accurate and up-to-date information on the specific costs associated with obtaining a property management license.

Florida property manager license requirements

To become a property manager in Florida, you need to follow certain requirements, including obtaining a real estate license. Here are the key steps and requirements for obtaining a property management license in Florida:

  1. Complete a Pre-Licensing Course: Successfully complete the real estate sales associate pre-licensing course that is approved by the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC). Be aware that you may need to take more than one course to fulfill the 63-hour requirement.
  2. Obtain a Real Estate Sales Associate License: In Florida, there isn’t a specific property management license. Instead, you need to obtain a real estate sales associate license to meet the FREC requirements for property management.
  3. Be at Least 18 Years Old: You must be at least 18 years old to apply for entry to an approved real estate sales associate pre-licensing course.
  4. Have a High School Diploma or GED: To be eligible for entry into an approved real estate sales associate pre-licensing course, you need to have graduated from high school or earned your General Education Diploma (GED).
  5. Pass the State Exam: After completing the pre-licensing course, you will need to pass the state exam to obtain your real estate sales associate license.
  6. Obtain a Real Estate Broker’s License (Optional): If you intend to become a property manager in Florida, it’s advisable to eventually obtain a real estate broker’s license, as property management often involves brokerage activities. This step is based on Chapter 475 of the 2019 Florida Statutes.

Keep in mind that the specific requirements and regulations may change over time, so it’s essential to consult the Florida Real Estate Commission or a qualified real estate professional for the most up-to-date information and guidance on pursuing a career in property management in Florida.

Property Management Requirements By StateAt A Glance

Property management requirements vary by state in the United States. Here is a summary of the property management license requirements by state:

Real estate broker license required: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Property Management License Requirements
States Requiring Property Management License States Not Requiring Property Management License
  • District of Columbia
  • Montana*
  • Oregon*
  • South Carolina
  • Wyoming
  • Idaho*
  • Kansas*
  • Maine*
  • Maryland*
  • Massachusetts*
  • Vermont*
  • Wisconsin*
Property Management License Requirements

Some exceptions or conditions may apply for these states. Please check the official sources for more details.

It’s important to note that licensing requirements can change, so it’s advisable to consult the official licensing boards or regulatory authorities in each state for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding property management license requirements.

Some Freqently asked Questions on Reddit, Quora and other Online Platform

What Can an Unlicensed Property Manager Do in Florida?

Florida has specific regulations regarding the activities that an unlicensed property manager can undertake. Here is an overview of what an unlicensed property manager can and cannot do in Florida:

What an unlicensed property manager can do:

  1. Collect Rent: An unlicensed property manager can handle rent collection from tenants.

What an unlicensed property manager cannot do:

  1. Create Lease or Rental Agreements: Only licensed individuals, such as real estate brokers, can draft lease or rental agreements on behalf of property owners.
  2. Advertise the Property or Show it to Potential Tenants: Unlicensed property managers cannot engage in advertising or showing rental properties to prospective tenants.
  3. Conduct Background Checks or Screen Tenants: The responsibility of conducting background checks and tenant screening falls under the purview of licensed individuals.

It’s important to note that property management is considered a real estate activity in Florida, which means that a property manager may need a broker license if they receive commissions and handle rentals and leases on behalf of others. However, if the property manager is only managing personally owned properties, no license is required.

what can an unlicensed property manager do in illinois

In Illinois, the possession of a real estate license is unnecessary for property managers exclusively engaged in general administrative duties, which encompass:

  • Maintenance contracting
  • Payment of general expenses
  • Serving as an accountant for association dues

However, if property managers undertake any of the subsequent activities, a real estate license becomes a requirement:

  • Listing or advertising a property for rent
  • Conducting property showings or tours
  • Accepting rent payments
  • Managing security deposits
  • Negotiating lease agreements
  • Addressing tenant disputes

Participation in these activities by an unlicensed property manager constitutes a misdemeanor offense, potentially resulting in fines up to $2,500. Additionally, an order to cease property management operations may also be issued.

In Illinois, unlicensed property managers are permitted to engage in the subsequent actions:

  • Provision of property management advice
  • Creation of marketing materials
  • Coordination of repairs and maintenance
  • Collection of rent payments
  • Deposit of security deposits into an escrow account
  • Compilation of financial reports
  • Management of tenant communications

However, certain activities remain prohibited for unlicensed property managers, including:

  • Listing or advertising properties for rent
  • Conducting property showings or tours
  • Lease negotiation
  • Resolution of tenant disputes

what can an unlicensed property manager do in Texas

In Texas, being licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) is required for property managers who:

  1. Are held out as property managers for others and for compensation.
  2. Rent or lease properties on behalf of property owners.
  3. Control the acceptance or deposit of rent from residents of single-family residential real property units.

However, certain property management activities can be undertaken without a license, including:

  1. Bookkeeping
  2. Arrangement of repairs
  3. Provision of tenant screening services
  4. Rent collection
  5. Handling of evictions

Consequently, these activities can be carried out by unlicensed property managers as long as they avoid presenting themselves as licensed property managers and refrain from charging any compensation.

It is important to acknowledge that even when operating within legal boundaries, unlicensed property managers can still be held accountable for their actions. For instance, if an unlicensed property manager fails to collect rent or conducts inadequate repairs on a rental property, the property owner retains the right to initiate legal action for damages against them.

If the consideration of hiring a property manager arises, verification of their license status with TREC is crucial. This can be accomplished by visiting the TREC website and conducting a search for the property manager’s name.

The average expenditure for property management in Texas stands at 6-10% of the monthly rental income. Nonetheless, the specific cost may fluctuate based on factors such as property size, location, the number of tenants, and the range of services rendered by the property manager.

Highlighted below are several recommendations for the engagement of a property manager in Texas:

  1. Obtain quotations from multiple property managers.
  2. Inquire about their experience and qualifications.
  3. Confirm TREC licensure.
  4. Document all aspects, including the terms outlined in the management agreement.

what can an unlicensed property manager do in nc

In North Carolina, the requirement for a property manager mandates them to hold the status of a licensed real estate broker. This requisite entails the successful completion of the state’s real estate examination and maintaining good standing status with the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.

Permitted Activities for Unlicensed Property Managers in North Carolina:

  1. Self or Immediate Family Management: Unlicensed individuals can manage properties for themselves or their immediate family.
  2. Assisting Licensed Property Managers: Unlicensed property managers can aid licensed counterparts with tasks like showings and rent collection, but without compensation.
  3. Advice and Consultation: Unlicensed property managers can offer advice on property management matters, excluding direct management activities.

Prohibited Activities and Potential Consequences:

  1. Restricted Actions: Unlicensed property managers cannot lease, rent for others, advertise services, or present as managers.
  2. Penalties Imposed: Violations can lead to fines up to $5,000, license suspension or revocation, injunctions, and civil liabilities.
  3. Varied Penalties: The specific consequences depend on the unique circumstances of each case.

In instances where an unlicensed property manager participates in any of the aforementioned prohibited activities, potential consequences may encompass fines, penalties, and disciplinary measures sanctioned by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.

Consequences that may be imposed upon unlicensed property managers encompass:

  1. Monetary Penalty of Up to $5,000:
    An unlicensed property manager could face fines, with the maximum penalty reaching $5,000.
  2. License Suspension or Revocation:
    The suspension or revocation of their real estate license could be imposed as a punitive measure.
  3. Injunction Against Property Management Activities:
    Unlicensed property managers might be subjected to an injunction that restrains them from engaging in property management-related activities.
  4. Civil Liability for Damages:
    Unlicensed property managers may be held civilly liable for any damages resulting from their unlicensed activities, whether to property owners or tenants.

It is essential to recognize that the aforementioned penalties provide an overview of potential consequences for unlicensed property managers. The specific penalties meted out will be contingent upon the individual circumstances and details of the case.

What are the property management license requirements in Illinois?

Here is an overview of the steps to become a property manager in Illinois:

Property Management License Requirements

Licensing Options:

In Illinois, property managers can obtain either a Community Association Manager License or a Real Estate License. Both licenses involve classroom learning and have different focuses.


To qualify for a property management license, you must complete the required educational courses. For a Real Estate License, you need to complete 90 hours of pre-licensing education, covering topics such as real estate principles, transactions, and license law. The Community Association Manager License has its own set of educational requirements.


After completing the educational requirements, you must pass the Illinois Real Estate Broker Exam, which is necessary for both the Community Association Manager License and the Real Estate License.


While Illinois does not have a specific experience requirement for property managers, gaining practical experience in the field can be valuable for your career growth.

Age Requirement:

You must be at least 21 years old to apply for a property management license in Illinois.

High School Diploma or GED:

Having a high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite for obtaining a property management license.

Post-Licensing Education:

After receiving your license, you will need to complete 30 hours of post-license education to fulfill the state’s requirements.

It’s important to note that licensing requirements can change, so it’s advisable to consult the official licensing boards or regulatory authorities in each state for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding property management license requirements.

While certification is not mandatory, becoming a Certified Property Manager (CPM) or Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) can provide additional credibility and expertise in the field.

Can an unlicensed property manager work in California?

Navigating the laws surrounding property management in California can be complex and challenging. According to California law, individuals who are unlicensed property managers are generally not permitted to perform key activities typically carried out by property managers, such as leasing or rent collection. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule that allow unlicensed individuals to engage in certain tenant-related functions.

Firstly, unlicensed property managers in California can handle tenant-related tasks for apartment and vacation rentals, including showing rental units and facilities to prospective tenants. This exception allows unlicensed individuals to assist in the rental process and tenant interactions in specific contexts.

Secondly,Unlicensed property managers can work for licensed ones. They learn from them and do property management tasks.

Thirdly, Some off-site employees of licensed property managers are exempt. They work on specific residential apartment tasks under supervision.

California Property Management Laws and Real Estate Laws are interrelated. Understanding both is essential. Before starting a property management career, research the licensing requirements well.

Is it Legal to Engage in Property Management Without a License in Texas?

Texas property owners can manage their own rentals without a license. Property management agencies need a real estate broker’s license. This is because leasing and renting are real estate activities. Texas real estate laws require a license for them.

There are two exceptions to the license requirement:

  1. No real estate license is needed for salaried employees managing or leasing their employers’ properties.
  2. Individuals who do not control the acceptance or deposit of rent from residents of single-family residential real property units are also exempt from the license requirement.

It’s important to note that an unlicensed property manager in Texas is not permitted to manage properties for others in a legal capacity. If you are considering hiring a property manager for your Texas rental property, it is crucial to verify that they possess the appropriate licensing. You can easily check the license status of Texas property managers through the Texas Real Estate Commission website.

See Also- Can My Brother Sue Me for My Inheritance? 


Licensing is vital for credibility, compliance, and stakeholder protection in property management. Consider risks and benefits before working without a license, as obtaining one is recommended for professional growth and expertise.Research and consult local laws on property management licensing to ensure compliance and career success in your area.


Can you manage a relative’s property without a license?

No, managing a relative’s property without a license is not legally permissible.

Can you be a property manager with a real estate license?

Yes, a real estate license allows you to work as a property manager.

Can you manage property without a license?

It depends on the state. In most states, you need a license to manage property for others.

Can you be a property manager without a license?

A license is often necessary for property managers in many jurisdictions, but local regulations determine specific requirements. Consult local laws to confirm if a license is required.

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