Your professionalism is what will set you apart from other landlords, and ultimately help you retain tenants and contractors, and increase your profits in the new year.
In this business, it’s easy to settle into a groove and become more relaxed about things – especially property maintenance and customer service. It’s a new year, and your chance to be a better landlord. Most people make new year’s resolutions with every intent to keep them.
Even if you only succeed at 1 of these, you will still be better off than last year! I challenge you take some of these resolutions to heart and fight your bad habits.
Join with me and fight your inner slumlord!
10 New Year’s Resolutions:
Please raise your right hand and repeat after me:
1. I will use a written rock-solid lease and understand its clauses.
This is Landlordology 101. Verbal leases rarely hold up in court. Without a written lease that is signed by both parties, the tenant has all the power. For a great lease, check out our suggestions for Leases and Legal Forms.
Most of your tenants will not read the lease that they sign.
Internally, they will figure out if you are trustworthy, and then ask you noteworthy questions about the lease. You have to be able to accurately tell them what the lease says, and sometimes even “why”. A lease is to a landlord as a hammer is to a carpenter. You have to know it well, and trust that it will do its job.
2. I will build an Emergency Fund for each rental property that I own.
When you have a fully funded emergency savings account, you won’t stress out when the roof has a leak. You’ll just get it taken care of. I recommend saving 3-6 months worth of expenses (including any mortgages) for each property.
This money is only be used for repairs on your properties as well as to pay the mortgage during times of vacancy.
3. I will befriend other Property Managers more experienced than I.
In the world of social media, a Fan is a nice thing. In real life, you never really learn anything from a Fan.
“You will make, in income, within 10% of your 10 closest friends”.
So, try to find a Real Estate Investing group, and attend a local chapter meeting. Perhaps you’ll meet someone who will help shape your future for the better! At the very least, you will meet other Landlords to whom you can bounce ideas off of.
4. I will streamline at least 1 landlording process.
If you make 5 trips to the bank every month to deposit rent checks, you need to find a better process for collecting rent. I suggest starting to accept electronic rent payments from your tenants.
TIP: I use Cozy to review applications, screen tenants, and collect rent automatically. It saves me hours of time every month.
5. I will spend more time with my family.
Your loved ones are more valuable than any property or tenant. You will be a better Landlord if your spouse and kids are happy and are loved by you. You will be more relaxed, so that you can calmly handle the busted water spigot that will occur this winter.
If you are more focused on your family, you will just take care of any maintenance request without really thinking about it, instead of getting worked up and snippy with your wife. 1 Corinthians 13:2 says:
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
6. I will treat all contractors with dignity and respect.
People in the contracting service industry are some of the least appreciated people on the planet. Some spend their days de-clogging sewer pipes and fixing your broken windows. I try to greet every one of them with a smile and handshake.
I look them in the eye and introduce myself. I suggest you make and effort to validate their work and let them know you appreciate them. On the financial side, I’ve had many plumbers do the work for free simply because I was kind, showed them respect, and offered them drink after the job was finished.
7. I will respond to tenant maintenance requests within 24 hours.
This doesn’t mean the issue has to be fixed. It simply means that you acknowledge their request within 24 hours and are working on a solution.
Previously, I wrote about this in Tip #15. Remember, if you are MIA (missing in action), your tenants will be also – especially when it comes time to pay rent.
8. I will always collect a security deposit before the lease begins.
Once a tenant takes possession of your property, it is much harder to collect the deposit from them. The deposit your primary source of security in the situation and it should be non-negotiable.
I even prefer to collect a one-month deposit from a potential tenant when they say they are interested in the property. I nicely explain: “If you want me to take the property off the market, I need a deposit from you”.
It’s also an easy way to separate the men from the boys. Then after I review their applications, I set up a time with them to sign the lease. If I end up rejecting their applications, I simply refund their deposit.
9. I will check-in with my tenants at least once a quarter.
Checking-in with your tenants is incredibly easy to do and helps build a trustworthy relationship. They are the care-takers of your property and you need to keep the lines of communication open. If I haven’t heard from them in a few months, I usually just send a short email similar to this:
Hi [TENANT’S NAME], I hope you have been well. I just wanted to check in with you. How’s it going at the house and is there anything that needs my attention? Best, [YOUR NAME]
10. I will _________________________.
Make up your own personal resolution. I encourage you to share it in the comments below. The best way to ensure that you keep a resolution is to tell someone about it – which creates accountability.