How to Be a Successful Landlord in 20 Easy Steps

Written on August 26, 2015 by

20 tips for successful landlordingBeing a landlord comes with a lot of demands, but it’s not as hard as you would think.

Sure, there’s a lot to do, such as creating lease agreements, screening tenants, marketing rentals, and evicting poor tenants.

I’ve documented my personal ever-growing list of landlord tips, but our friends at have put together their own high-caliber list.

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.


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15 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Ashton

    I didn’t understand #15? Could you elaborate? If you are the owner, the tenants need to know who’s ultimately responsible otherwise it would be shady. It’s not like most landlords are giant companies that can push the blame off to someone else.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ashton

      Jacob Grant property management might be able to answer better than I, since they created the infographic – but I know generally what #15 means:

      Tenants treat property owners different from managers. #15 is saying to never let your tenant know that you own the property, otherwise they will expect you (the rich landlord) to pay for everything – even unreasonable stuff. So, #15 is saying to hide behind the cloud of “management”.

      Personally, I don’t really agree with this approach because it feels like lying – or at least omission from the truth. When a situation comes up, I’d rather deal with it head-on than try to say “I’ll check with the owner (which is me).” I wouldn’t want to be treated like that, so I don’t want to treat my tenants like that.

      I hope that helps.

      • Ashton

        That does make sense. I guess another approach would also be to put blame on the bank or lender and property taxes as well for certain situations.

      • Dylan Wells

        Hi, My name is Dylan Wells and I am currently attending a the University at Albany and I plan on majoring in business administration with concentrations in marketing and finance. Just to add to the previous comment you made on this post is, do you know specific ways that you can disguise yourself as management when you are the sole owner of a network of rental properties. I see how this method would be useful because since you are collecting money from other properties, tenants see you as a bag of money and will try to urge you to pay for the damages yourself although they are responsible for the damage. Also, I agree with your comment that your are essentially lying to your tenants which can cause problems down the line. Not recommended?

  • Kim

    Yes Lucas, Jacob, Ashton I have been a landlord for 20 years and this is how it should go. You interview the client tenant and you have them sign your lease and when your lease it signed I don’t come out to do lightbulbs Or take out the garbage nothing like that . But they know they’re not allowed to touch the electric, The plumbing the water any of the hardware of the house but on the other hand I make sure everything is done . They do know that I am the landlord I am the owner and I tell him It like this you treat it like it’s yours you won’t have a problem with me you treated like trash your I will evict you ! 9 out of 9 time my tenants stay in over 5 to 8 years in each of my units and I also help them build their credit in this time. Then they go and buy a house of their own. I am so sorry if this is too long.

  • Anya Sharma

    Hi Lucas Hall,This is really a great article with beautiful info graphics.You have written interesting points but one of the best point is ” Do not discriminate” .I really liked it.

  • Span Tower

    Great post Lucas… Really had a great time reading this.. Worth spend some time on this.. Thanks for sharing this knowledge. I really agree with point 5 and 11 .Have a lawyer review the lease and document every thing. Most of the land owners, land lords don’t follow these until they stuck into huge mess.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Span,
      Thanks for the feedback!

      • Dylan Wells

        Sorry for my second post of the day but I thought the infographic was very useful as well. many landlords complain about their tenants not paying their rent on-time or taking care of the property, but they dont reward them for the times they do. If anything I think it would be great to integrate this approach because building a happy and trustworthy with your tenants is ultimalty the end all be all when it comes to gaining new clientele.

  • Jazzy Bricks

    Hi,Its really great & Appreciable, I am Jazzy Bricks and I am currently educate my self about Real Estate and am follower of Brandon Turner & Blogs –
    I planed to treat my business by :
    business Treat Your Business Like a Business,
    Screen Out the Bad Apples,
    Treat Your Tenants with Respect,
    Don’t Be Too Nice, Get Help..
    Success is possible as a landlord, if the right steps are taken.

    Thanks Lucas Hall to educate & spread awareness for Real Estate Lover..!

  • Owner Finance OKC

    Has a lot of good posts, tips, and ideas.

  • Sooner House Buyers

    Super informative. Thanks so much, great job.

  • Stephen Roberts

    I would like to become a member of an organization that provides good information for being a great landlord.

  • BargainhomesOKC

    I wanted to leave comment to tell you that this was a very good Article.It is always nice to Read previous articles like this very informative & the ideas were very well presented .I would recommend your Articles to anyone.

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