Being a landlord comes with a lot of demands, but it’s not as hard as you would think.
20 Tips for Being a Successful Landlord
1. Use “lease targeting”
Schedule the majority of your lease end dates for times when the market is providing the most prospective tenant traffic. June 1st is often a great target move-in date.
2. Treat your rental like a business
What system do you have in place to manage maintenance requests if you’re out-of-town on vacation? Are you setting aside 10% of your rental income for repairs?
3. Screen out the bad tenants
Make sure tenant income is at least 3x the cost of monthly rent. Run a credit and background check, follow Fair Housing laws, ask for referrals from previous landlords, and avoid tenants with past evictions.
4. Keep your tenants happy
It’s a LOT cheaper to retain a tenant than to find a new one. Fix repairs promptly, keep the property in good shape, treat your tenants with respect, and you’ll see less turnover and more cash flow.
5. Have a lawyer review the lease
Many of the common provisions placed in lease contracts are illegal. An attorney familiar with changing landlord-tenant laws can quickly spot lease errors and provide you with a court-tested document.
6. Reinforce good behavior
Reward on-time, advanced rent payments, or tenant referrals with movie tickets, chocolates, dinner vouchers, anything your tenant would appreciate.
7. Do not discriminate
Follow Fair Housing laws when screening prospective tenants. These Federal lows make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status.
8. Move-in / move-out inspections
Have the tenant document and sign off on any damages before the move in. Shoot video of the property before move-in and after the tenant vacates the property.
9. Set your hours
Set “office hours” or your tenant will set them for you. After all, it’s one of the perks of being a landlord in the first place :)
10. Get professional help
Just because you worked in construction and know how to operate power tools doesn’t mean you should be breaking up concrete and fixing the plumbing problems by yourself.
11. Document everything
When it comes to being a successful landlord there is no such thing as a verbal agreement, only a signed contract. In order to protect your interests and the interests of your tenants, get everything in writing.
12. Figure out the right rent
How do you go about setting rental rates in line with the current market? Look in the local newspaper. Pay close attention to location. Check the internet for local rental rates. Always base your rent rates on current market conditions.
13. Set up a Google Voice number
Instead of giving tenants access to your personal cell number, set up a Google Voice account – which will supply you with a phone number that will forward through to your cell phone.
14. Electronic rent payments
Many tenants prefer to pay rent online. It’s faster and often more convenient. Look into setting up automatic rent payments with Cozy.
15. You are NOT the owner
When you are the owner the tenant will blame you for these decision. Fear of this blame will often lead many landlords to start making decisions out of convenience rather than common sense.
16. Have a late policy
Make it clear from day one you will be charging a late fee for overdue rent. The key is to be strict with the policy. The extra income will help compensate for the stress of not getting rent on time.
17. Use multi-media marketing
“List it and they will come…” I wish it were that easy. In order to get your property in front of the renter (many or which are millennials), you need to have a presence across multiple marketing channels.
18. Keep family out of it.
Renting to friends and family is a recipe for disaster. Each time, you’ll be faced with the following dilemma: Lose the money or lose the relationship. Don’t put yourself in that situation.
19. Have an enforceable lease
Make sure you have an air tight lease that sets the terms and conditions for your tenants.
20. Get the right insurance
Make sure you have the maximum amount of rental insurance, property liability insurance, and any other type of insurance required in your state.