Owing a rental property is full of ups and downs. There are days when you are amazed at just how easy running a property can be. Other times tenants will frustrate and annoy you to the point where you seriously consider selling the property for whatever you can get. Like most things in real estate, rental property ownership falls somewhere in the middle. You can go months without even thinking about the property than out of the blue get hit with major issues on back to back days. If you own a rental, you need to be ready for whatever comes your way. If not, you should seriously consider hiring a property manager and taking a haircut on the residual monthly cash flow. Here are five major tasks that every landlord needs to be ready to handle.
- Rent collection. Everything with a rental property revolves around rent collection. If rent checks stop coming in, nothing else with the property really matters. From the outside, collecting rent is as easy as waiting for checks to come in or instructing your tenants how to pay online. Anyone who has ever owned a rental property before knows this is easier said than done. You will inevitably have a tenant whose check comes in on the 2nd, then the 5th and eventually the 8th of every month. You will be forced to make phone calls, texts and even emails inquiring about the rent. There will be times you don’t hear back for a few days and you wonder if the tenant is playing games with you. How, and even when, you follow up and ask about the rent often determines the tenant’s action. As much as we may like to assume every tenant will pay on time, there is nothing guaranteeing as much. Rental collection is an essential part of owning a rental property.
- Maintenance requests. Even the best maintained rental properties need TLC every now and then. The hard reality is that tenants will not take care of a rental property the same way you take care of yours. This isn’t to say they are going to abuse it, but they do tend to overuse or neglect certain items. When the toilet gets clogged it is important to get on it right away. Something as seemingly minor, like a clogged toilet has a big impact on your tenants. Even if there is another bathroom in the rental, you can’t like simple maintenance pile up. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it can also make the problem worse down the road. Putting a Band-Aid on the toilet may push off a bigger problem if neglected long enough. Whatever your tenants ask to be repaired or replaced you need to get on asap. This helps improve your relationship, which will motivate them to take better care of the property. It also helps you preserve the useful life of the property for as long as possible.
- Turnover. The end of the lease and the start of a new one is always a hectic and stressful time for any landlord. For starters, you need to market the property to find tenants. This requires you to be available to field phone calls and answer questions about the property. Next, you need to physically show the property to prospective tenants. The temptation will be there to agree to the first semi-qualified tenant that comes along, simply because you want the process to end. This is obviously one of the worst things you can do. During the showing process you also need to instruct your tenant how you want the property on move out day, all the while answering questions about the new lease and guidelines. You will have to return the security deposit, collect the new one, clean the property and handle any required paperwork with the town. The last thirty days of any lease requires plenty of work and attention for every landlord.
- Phone calls. It is the nature of rental property ownership that tenants will call, email or text you every time there is a question or a problem. You need to accept this, and even embrace it. You can’t allow yourself to get frustrated and annoyed with tenants constantly reaching out to you. In fact, you would rather have some communication with your tenants than not hear from them for weeks on end. Some of the phone calls will be redundant and you won’t want to answer the same questions constantly. The reality is that most phone calls are less than two minutes. Putting up with a tenant for two minutes every few weeks is a small price to pay to own a property.
- Eviction. Eviction is something no landlord wants to think about. If you own a rental property long enough eventually you will face an eviction. This will certainly not be easy, but if handled the right way can end up being nothing more than a minor bump in the road. On the flip side, just a few missteps on your end can prolong the process and make the financial impact much worse. You don’t have to be obsessed with eviction, but you do need to know what to do if it ever presents itself in a property.
There are literally dozens of things a landlord must do on a weekly, or monthly basis. Some of these are more time consuming than others, but they all must be done if you want to be a successful landlord.