Your ability to be a better landlord often determines your success with a rental property. It is no secret that better landlords produce better tenants which makes running a rental property as easy as possible. On the flip side poor landlords are forced to deal with constant tenant and property issues that can make rental property ownership miserable. There is truly not much that separates good landlords from average ones. Better landlords are often one step ahead of what their tenants need and never make them wait for simple requests. They are proactive in dealing with problems and don’t turn small issues into bigger ones. They understand that a good rental property requires constant management and must be treated like a business. The small things you do as a landlord have a big impact on the property. Here are five tips to help become a better landlord.
- Business approach. As we mentioned, the best landlords treat every property like a business. Even if you own one single family property you can’t become lazy or complacent with it. Running a rental property means that you have systems, guidelines and rules in place for every conceivable situation. There shouldn’t be anything that catches you off guard or causes you to delay taking action. Like any other business there will be times when you are forced to make difficult decisions with your property, but they are essential to move forward. As the owner you are the CEO and president of your property, but you also need other people to help make the property go. A good handyman, contractor and property manager can help you avoid time consuming tasks that cut down on your productivity. Running a property doesn’t require a 40-hour work week but it does require you run it like a business.
- Systems. How do you market your rental property? Do you have a handful of go to websites or other systems for generating leads? Do you have a system to screen tenants or an end of lease system in place? Have you spoken with your tenants about preferred rent collection methods and know where to reach them if checks are not received? As the owner you should have a system in place for everything. These systems should be constantly reviewed and tweaked to make sure they are still relevant and effective. Without systems you may get lucky with a tenant but eventually something in your business will fall through the cracks that causes a big problem. Creating systems all comes back to having a business approach with the property. Systems dictate how you act when you are forced to deal with an unexpected situation. As the owner you create your systems in a way that is most comfortable for you. You make the rules and implement systems as you see fit. Better landlords use systems to their advantage and as a guide to running the property.
- Management. How do you plan on managing the property? Regardless of the strength of your tenants or the property there will always be issues from time to time. Toilets clog, tenants lose their keys and the garage door may not open. When these issues arise are you going to be the one that deals with them? Many landlords see value in hiring a dedicated property manager. For the 10% monthly fee they let the manager handle the property. They don’t want to deal with finding a plumber, locksmith or anything else the property needs. Even if you don’t want to hire a property manager you need to figure out how you plan on managing it. Every time the phone rings you need to pick it up and find out what the problem may be. If you do not make yourself available your tenants will lose confidence and slowly take worse care of the property. You can eliminate these issues by managing whatever is needed with the property as quickly as possible.
- Tenants. Everything in a rental revolves around your tenants. Poor tenants will be a constant headache that will cause you to hold your breath every time the phone rings. Good tenants will almost make ownership feel too easy at times. While there is nothing you can do that will ever guarantee good tenants there are things you can do that will give you a good indication. There is a lot of information you can obtain from an application. It is amazing how many landlords gloss over the application and simply go with the tenant that shows the most interest. By doing this you are asking for trouble. It only takes a few minutes to follow up with a prior landlord or to call a reference listed. Better landlords don’t like a looming vacancy influence their decision. They know that good tenants are the key to a successful rental.
- Handle problems ASAP. The best landlords put themselves in their tenant’s shoes. They know that a seemingly small issue to you can impact their daily routine. They never make their tenant wait days to return a call or handle a simple request with the property. They have an open line of communication with their tenants and in turn their tenants pay on time and take care of the property. They know they are in a good situation and want to stay in the property for as long as possible. You can lose a good tenant by making them wait to fix the dishwasher or replace the stove. Good landlords handle any property problems asap.
Landlords who complain about bad tenants are generally bad landlords. Better landlords do the little things that keep good tenants in the property as long as possible.