History of Property Management Companies

History of Property Management Companies

history of property management
history of property management
Table of Contents
Property management has been around for centuries. However, the modern concept of property management began to emerge in the 20th century. Read this article for more details.

This article is part of the Property Management 101 Guide.

Property management has been around for centuries, with landlords and property owners delegating the day-to-day management of their properties to others.

However, the modern concept of property management companies as we know them today began to emerge in the 20th century.

Read more about the timeline of property management story from ancient times to modern era, below.

Ancient Times

Standard of Ur, Ancient Sumer. Source image

Citing from the Real Cube website, the origins of property management can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as ancient Sumerian, where large estates were managed by professional administrators known as “šaqiru“.

Meanwhile in ancient Rome, only the wealthy elite lived in large single family homes called domus. On the contrary, the vast commoners are living in cramped apartments called insulae. The poor and slaves lived in small shacks in the countryside.

Age of the Kings

A medieval house in Southampton, England. Source image.

After the inevitable fall of the Roman Empire, the royal families dominated property (mostly lands) during the medieval period.

They distributed their wealth to friends by signing away titles and deeds to lands, allowing the holders to collect the earnings or rent generated by the peasants who lived there.

Farmers in the delivery of their taxes to the landlords. German’s 15th century picture. Source image

In addition to this rent, all residents in a ruler’s domain were often expected to pay a tax. The ruling leader made numerous other conditions, including military service.

Their requests were accepted only reluctantly because these monarchs possessed the territory not only by birthright but also by military strength.

The Industrial Revolution

Landlord and landlady of Bad Winkel in Kematen-Sand in Taufers. ca 1925. Source image.

The Industrial Revolution was one of history’s great equalizers, maybe only surpassed by the discovery of firearms.

The employment of machines for manual labor freed up many peasants for other responsibilities while allowing a privileged few time for education and specialization in new fields of labor opened up by industrial mechanization.

Throughout this period, the population was growing, particularly in cities and large towns.

With this came the demand for more dwellings, and owners of vast holdings began to partition their property into single occupancy rooms to rent out.

According to Remus.uk.com, these rooms were frequently in poor condition and had little or no amenities, which were shared by the entire house.

As demand increased, so did competition; landlords who provided services were obviously more desired. 

Tenants were getting increasingly choosy by the end of the nineteenth century, and thus the ‘Caretaker Manager’ developed.

Their job was to collect rent from tenants while also listening to their complaints, answering questions, and liaising between tenant and owner (sound familiar?).

The Caretaker’s duty grew over time as he was assigned with additional chores such as small repairs.

20th Century

In the early 1900s, The National Association of Realtors was established as the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges in 1908 in Chicago to expand real estate matters.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of large property management companies that could handle the management of multiple properties across different locations. 

These companies offered a wide range of services, including marketing, leasing, tenant management, maintenance and repairs, and financial reporting.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the consolidation of the property management industry, with many small companies being acquired by larger companies. 

Tech Age – Property Management Now

Today, property management companies are an integral part of the real estate industry, providing valuable services to property owners and investors. 

We’re now also seeing the advances in technology that allow property management companies to operate more efficiently and effectively. One of these progressive inventions is the development of Property Management System software.

From residential properties to commercial and industrial properties, property management companies help ensure that properties are well-maintained, tenants are satisfied, and owners receive a good return on their investment.

To learn more about why these companies are really important, see this article about the Importance of Property Management Companies.


Armel Theurillat
Marketing Manager at Bali Management Villas