South Okanagan Property Management expanding its services up the valley
Ashley Lutke-Schipholt has been working as a property manager in Osoyoos since 2010, but until May 2021 she always worked for other companies.
Last year she took the plunge and started South Okanagan Property Management, her own business, based in offices on Spartan Drive in Osoyoos and Main Street in Penticton.
“My dad has been an entrepreneur my whole life, I always thought I’d go the business route somehow,” she said, explaining her career choice. “There’s not a ton of work in Osoyoos, so I created my own.”
Originally from Peace River, Alberta, Lutke-Schipholt completed a Bachelor of Business degree in 2008 in Kelowna and soon after started a cleaning company in Osoyoos. She then started working in strata management and obtained the appropriate licensing. Before starting out on her own, she worked in property management for other companies.
Her future plan, she said, is to grow her business. That’s already started. Initially most of her clients were in Osoyoos with a smaller number in Oliver. Recently she announced she’s expanding her range also to include Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, and Naramata. As of June 2022 the company has 20 new clients in the Penticton area. They are also excited to announce their management of a new 40-unit rental purpose-built complex in Osoyoos currently under construction.
Lutke-Schipholt’s company offers full service property management to landlord clients seeking to rent their houses, condominiums, or townhomes to residential renters.
The owner pays a fee based on the monthly rent. The tenants are screened but pay no fee.
South Okanagan Property Management evaluates the property first and gives the owner an estimate of the rent they can expect to receive, advertises the property, shows it to prospective tenants, screens them, collects the rent, and pays the owner electronically each month, deals with any issues that arise, and also handles move-out inspections.
For the screening of tenants, her company does a telephone interview even before tenants are shown the property to get a feel for why they are moving and how many people will be living in the residence. After seeing the property and deciding to rent, they are then screened through an application company that checks credit and references.
The most common reason renters might be turned down is for lacking sufficient credit. A minimum credit score of 600 is required.
“We like to foster healthy relationships between property owners and tenants,” she said. “That is our goal.”
Some residential tenancy laws lean in favour of tenants’ rights, and some tenants may use these to gain advantage.
“You have to make sure everyone is well informed,” she said. “Troubles can arise because of misinformation or professional problem tenants. Tenants don’t realize using the laws to gain advantage is actually creating more of rental supply issue, as owners do not want to rent their properties after hearing these issues.”
Properties often require maintenance, and Ashley’s team knows all the relevant trades people and is able to handle it.
Rentals are advertised separately as long-term or short-term. The long-term rentals are those of a year or more. The short-term rentals are typically seasonal, often during the winter when owners may head to a snowbird destination and want to rent out their property while they’re away.
The prospects are great for people seeking winter housing as their are many rentals available.
“I think that it’s really great for the economy too because it helps the off-season commerce in Osoyoos,” she said.
Rental properties are seldom vacant for long.
“For long-term rentals, if the unit is priced well, it will be gone quickly, that is why I am very excited for the developments happening in the area currently, and the 40-unit building we will be managing next year” said Lutke-Schipholt.
Property managers at her company are limited to no more than 100 properties per manager in order to ensure quality service.
An article on the company’s website points out why the number of units managed is important. Too few could mean the manager is new to the business and inexperienced or has lost business due to unsatisfied clients. Too many could mean he or she can’t provide timely and effective service.
So bringing on another manager is has been key to her company’s expansion, Lutke-Schipholt says.
Matthew Laydon became licensed in March 2022 with a background of managing his own rental properties in Edmonton.
Ashley Luke-Schipolt and Matthew Laydon
Pam Thompson has been working with Lutke-Schipholt for 7 years as an administration manager and unlicensed property management assistant. Ashley says Pam is a great asset to their team and very knowledgeable of the local area and trades.
Lutke-Schipholt also highlights two other team members – Sandra Elke, “my bookkeeper with 30 years experience”, and Amanda Prowse, who works on marketing and administration remotely from Mexico and is “ just awesome.”
This team has helped her with some of the challenges of starting out on her own, which include meeting the administrative requirements of the British Columbia Financial Services Authority (BCFSA), the provincial Crown agency that regulates the financial sector and real estate.
“It’s been a learning curve, but now I’m in the groove and it’s going incredibly well, I feel very lucky to be running a successful business in paradise, with the ability to employ others and provide safe housing to as many people as we can.” Lutke-Schipholt said.
South Okanagan Property Management
103 – 7611 Spartan Drive
Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V0