The Debate on Licensing Property Managers License to Manage

In a number of states throughout the U.S., including Florida, Nevada and the District of Columbia, property managers are required by law to be licensed. This is not the case in New York, although a debate over the necessity of licensing has boiled quietly—and sometimes not so quietly—under the surface for decades. As can be imagined in a city of eight million property-obsessed people, there are myriad voices and opinions on the subject.

The topic first came to the forefront of conversation in the late 1980s. "In the 1980s, there was real scandal in the industry," says Marolyn Davenport of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). The subject, she says, has died down "as people have realized the importance of professionalizing the industry, of training and hiring the top people."

Where it All Began

Today, the only licensing that exists for New York property managers falls under the aegis of the state real estate broker's license. The vast majority of managers in the New York City area hold those brokers' licenses, which includes a component on real estate management within the curriculum required to earn the designation.

If licenses were mandated in New York, the requirements would likely follow those already established in other states. According to background material offered by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), "Although specific regulations can vary from state to state, generally the certification or licensing requires an exam, fingerprint test, certification or licensing fee, renewal fee and some form of continuing educational requirements."

In addition to the broker's license, a substantial number of today's property managers also hold certifications and have taken part in extensive continuing education programs—not to fulfill any state mandate, but simply to get ahead in the game.


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  • I live in NJ can anyone tell me ... do property managers need a license in NJ?
  • Everyone needs oversight, not licensing property managers gives them a free ticket to engage in unethical practices, that's what licensing and oversight is about. It creates a set of standards and go to when unethical practices are alleged. Property management companies must be licensed~ They are handling peoples personal affairs, lives, etc., so are social workers and the like and they must be licensed. License them in New York Now~
  • Licensing is essential with no grandfather clauses. Cooperative buildings in New York City are rift with corrupt managers who use their powers abusively and are self-serving.