How to Be an Incredible Landlord: Tips for Success
Renters Warehouse Blog
Yes, we know. Being a landlord is often associated with hard work, stress, 2 a.m. call-outs, and frantically searching for documents when tax time rolls around.
But the reality is that managing rentals doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming. The secret is taking the right approach from the start, and ensuring that you treat your venture like the money-generating venture that it is –and ensuring that you’re organized and professional from the beginning.
Being an incredible landlord doesn’t cost much, but it does offer plenty of benefits. For one thing, it’ll make your tenants feel welcome and at home, which leads to tenants who are more likely to stick around longer - and take better care of your property while they’re there. The longer a tenant stays, the fewer vacancies you’ll have, and the less you have to spend advertising and attempting to fill properties.
Not only will it keep your tenants happy, but it’ll also reduce your stress and keep you happier as well. Being considerate and ensuring that your rentals are run like a well-oiled machine will help to keep your days easier, and revenue rolling in month after month.
With this in mind, here’s a look at a few tips for being an incredible landlord. See how you can generate income while reducing headaches –saving you from a world of time and frustration!
Always Make Repairs in a Timely Fashion
Nothing is more frustrating to a tenant than delayed maintenance or repairs. When a tenant calls with a complaint or maintenance issue, set up a time to go inspect the problem. From there, you can better assess how to handle the issue. Be sure to always keep your tenants informed when it comes to repairs and always make sure they know what time you, or a contractor, will be stopping by. Even if the repair is non-urgent, and you can’t handle it immediately, keep them updated on when, exactly, you plan to address the issue. It’s also worth having a number of different professionals on call –including electricians, plumbers, and general contractors. This will help you to address problems quickly and efficiently as they arise.
Respect Your Tenant’s Right to Privacy
Remember, it might be your house, but it is your tenant’s home. Be respectful of their privacy and always give them notice before stopping by. An unexpected visit is never welcome and is, in most cases, against the law. Most states require that you give tenants at least 24-hours’ notice first before stopping by your rental. You should also try to limit your visits or inspections to normal business hours, meaning, no early morning drop-ins or late-night inspections unless your tenant has approved them first. Likewise, when arranging for repairs, try to schedule contractors to come by at a time that’s convenient for your tenant.
Tip: Scheduling in maintenance or repairs? It’s a good idea to ask your tenant for a list of dates and times that they will be available during the week so you can arrange a convenient time with the contractor.
Maintain Open Lines of Communication
Open lines of communication are important when it comes to your relationship with your tenants. While this doesn’t mean that you have to be available for their every call, regardless of the time of day, it does mean that you should be available to them if an emergency arises and that you should return their phone calls or emails in a timely fashion. Setting up a separate phone number for your tenants to call and giving them an email address where they can forward their concerns is a great way to keep communication open while still maintaining boundaries.
Looking for more ways to improve your landlord-tenant relationship? Consider reading: Creating & Maintaining a Positive Landlord-Tenant Relationship.
Next up, it’s important to be professional. Even if a tenant calls you with an issue that upsets you, don’t become annoyed or frustrated with them. Remember: you are the professional, it’s important to conduct yourself like a reputable business. Treat your tenants with professionalism, and you’ll be certain to win their respect.
Know the Laws and Follow Them
Make sure you familiarize yourself with Fair Housing Laws, which stipulate that you should never discriminate against people because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. It’s also important to ensure that you make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities as well.
Likewise, be aware of state laws and local legislation. Landlord-tenant laws vary considerably across the board and cover everything from rent, security deposits, and landlord obligations. Being familiar with these laws can help you to ensure that you’re in compliance, keeping you from hefty fines and potential lawsuits. You should be sure to keep these laws in mind when you are writing leases, advertising, and when communicating with tenants as well.
Be consistent with how you treat your tenants. Never allow one tenant to do something that you won’t allow another tenant to do. This is especially true if you have a multifamily unit. Never stray from your lease or allow an exception. Always follow the written lease that has been signed and agreed upon. If there are any objections, you will know that you are within your rights since you have always been consistent and followed through with them.
Take Tenant Concerns Seriously
Next up, be understanding. In most cases, your tenant won’t call or bring something to your attention unless they feel they must. Be sure to listen to their concerns and address them to the best of your abilities. While there are some things that you may not be able to address, such as disputes with a neighbor who isn’t your tenant, if it is something you can manage, then try to do so. Assuring your tenants that you take their concerns seriously means that they’ll be happier and more at ease in the property, and they’ll be more likely to raise awareness of issues (like a leaking pipe) as soon as they notice a problem, instead of waiting until things get out of hand and the issue becomes more serious.
Consider Adding a Pet Policy
While it isn’t essential, if you are looking to keep your tenants happy and in turn, keep them around longer, you might consider adding a pet policy to your lease. While pets aren’t for everyone, many people own a pet (including 90% of renters, according to one recent survey!), and adding in a pet policy can help protect you and your investment all while keeping your tenants who have four-legged family members feeling safe, respected, and happy. Just make sure you protect yourself by adding a pet clause to the lease and collecting a pet deposit (in areas where it is legal to do so).
Looking for more information on adding a pet policy to your rental property? Read: Benefits of Being a Pet-Friendly Landlord.
Help Tenants Settle In
If you are looking to up your landlord game a bit, helping your tenants settle in can go a long way. Landlords are often accused of not caring about their tenants. While it is true that you shouldn’t allow your tenants to walk all over you, there are some small gestures that will help make the process of moving into a new location easier on your tenants, and thus help establish a good relationship.
Here are a few things you could consider to help make the process of moving easier for your tenants:
- Provide Useful Information
This is especially helpful if your tenants are moving from another state or town. A “Welcome to the neighborhood” information packet goes a long way. Providing them some useful information, such as directions to grocery stores, pharmacies, or local restaurants can be a great way to help them get established in a new place. And once you compile a list of information, you can use it for other tenants without having to recreate it (just update it to ensure that the business listings are current).
- Stock the Bathroom
Perhaps the most useful thing you can provide for your tenants upon their move-in is a well-stocked bathroom. During a move, the last thing your tenants will be thinking about is bringing toilet paper. Other useful things can include soap in each bathroom, paper towels, and all-purpose cleaner or surface wipes.
- Help With a Change of Address
This can be done simply by leaving behind some address labels or a change of address packet from the post office. This simple gesture can go a long way with your tenants as a change of address isn’t generally the first thing on your tenant’s mind, but it is something that’s important to do. This will also help your tenants to view you as organized and responsible, both qualities of an excellent landlord.
While none of these things are required of you, these small gestures can mean a lot to your tenants and help them feel more at ease and at home in your property.
You don’t have to be organized as a landlord, but it certainly helps! From leases and contracts to bills and taxes, there is plenty to keep track of. This becomes especially important as you build your portfolio. It is essential that you keep all your documents and papers well-organized.
Here are a few organizational tips for landlords:
- Keep Good Records
Generally speaking, most landlords will want to hold onto the following documentation:
- Record of rental income and expenses
- Supporting documents for income and expenses
- Insurance policies
- Warranties and sales receipts
- Rental agreements and any supporting documents
- Consider Digital Copies
Having digital copies either on the cloud or on an external hard drive is both smart and helpful. Digital copies could prevent the devastating loss of losing all your documentation in a flood or fire. It also makes it easier to locate specific information quickly. Just take care to avoid storing confidential or sensitive data on the cloud. That should always be kept offline.
- Create a Good Filing System
How you choose to file your information is up to you, but one way to simplify things is to create separate files for each property and then add files within each for specific expenses. This approach will make it much easier to find and provide proof if the IRS requests it. It’s advisable to keep tax records for seven years.
As a landlord, it’s important to document everything. Excellent landlords ensure an efficient and organized filing system is in place for their documentation. It’ll make it much easier to find those receipts when it’s time to file your tax return.
Run Your Rentals Like a Business
When it comes to managing your rentals, always treat them like a business. This means taking the time to outline big-picture goals about your investing strategy right from the start. It also means working to implement systems, to help keep things running smoothly even when you’re away, and finding the right people to enlist help from and to have on your team.
Don’t have a strategy in place yet?
Watch: Strategies for Investing in Real Estate Long-Term:
Know When to Ask for Help
Finally, an exemplary landlord knows when to ask for help and when to outsource. Being a landlord can be an all-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing what areas to outsource and when you should enlist help can make your life much easier. Don’t try to do it all on your own, if you find you are struggling in certain areas then find someone reliable who can give you a helping hand. This is especially true if you’re looking to grow your portfolio and invest in multiple properties, or if you’re planning on investing out-of-state.
Tip: Even if you’re planning on managing your property yourself, it’s still a good idea to factor in the cost of property management into your figure when running the numbers. With this approach, if you do decide to outsource, you’ll have the funds available to do so.
Being an excellent landlord doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Small changes can have a big impact on both your investment and your tenants. By taking the time to put these steps into practice, you can be sure that you are not just a good landlord, but an outstanding one.
Looking for more landlord advice? Take a look at the basics of creating and maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship. And if you’d like help managing your rental properties, at Renters Warehouse, we can help. Get started today with your FREE rental price analysis, and see how much your property could be renting for.
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