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Rent Estate™ Podcast Episode 03 – Special Guest Josh Zupfer - Tips for Hands-on Property Management

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Many landlords start out managing their properties on their own. But while this often works great at first, it can be easy for landlords to quickly find themselves in over their head.   

Common issues often stem from not being aware of your responsibilities as a landlord. For landlords today, it’s not as simple as “buy a property, rent it out.” Instead, there are a number of laws and legislation on a federal, state, and even local level –that vary considerably depending on where your property is located.

Join property management expert, Josh Zupfer who’s been with RW for seven years, and Kevin Ortner as they discuss practical tips for real estate investors who may be looking to manage their properties on their own. They discuss how being informed and aware of local and state law can help to save you from a number of headaches and hassle, allowing you to ensure that you’re on the right side of the law.

In today’s episode, Kevin and Josh draw from their years of experience in property management and discuss operations, how to manage rental properties to a high standard, and in a way that’s in compliance with the law. 

It all starts by making sure you’re familiar with local legislation, as this is something that varies considerably from state to state. Rental licensing, occupancy limits, background screening, and more –are all issues that vary from city to city.

Areas that deserve special consideration include:

  • Lease agreements
  • Rent collection
  • Processing and return of security deposits
  • Notice required before entering a property
  • The eviction process 

For landlords, it’s a good idea to get ahold of your state’s landlord-tenant handbook, something that you can find from your state’s regulatory agency. It also pays to brush up on local legislation, to make sure you’re clear on your responsibilities as a landlord on a local level as well.

Tip: As a side note, Nolo is an excellent resource; allowing you to view landlord-tenant laws by state.

Next up, lease agreements. Most landlords know that they need them, but the quality of these documents varies considerably across the board.

Kevin and Josh discuss information that should always be included in a lease. They advise landlords to include anything that involves fees or money –Josh recommends keeping this information in an easy-to-find location so tenants can flip to it at a glance.

It’s also vital to outline who’s responsible for what in your lease as well, so outline both landlord and tenant responsibilities to help keep everyone on the same page.

Clearly define responsibilities –who’s responsible for lawn care, maintenance, cleaning drains, and utilities? What about clogged drains, furnace filters, and other tasks? You can only hold tenants accountable if it’s in the lease.   

Now, it’s also important to ensure that you’ve checked state and local city ordinances before you outline tasks in your lease. In Minnesota, for example, a landlord cannot require a tenant to perform outdoor chores –mowing the lawn or removing snow, without offering fair compensation –either in the form of payment or a rent discount.

You’ll also want to keep safety in mind when assigning responsibilities. Asking a tenant to prune high branches, for example, clear gutters, or replace any high lightbulbs in the home could be a safety risk. For these tasks, it’s usually better if the landlord assumes responsibility. 

In this episode, Kevin and Josh also discuss common mistakes that landlords often make, along with tips on how to avoid them.

These include:

  • Not knowing the law

Not being aware of your responsibilities and state law can result in a number of headaches for any landlord.

  • Failing to get the property into rent-ready condition before renting it out

Get your property into rent-ready condition –before you show the home, and before you rent it out. You want to set a high standard, as you want to establish a precedent for tenants to follow as well. This will also help you to attract a tenant who will want to keep the property to a higher standard.

  • Letting late rent slide

Treat your rental like a business. Josh advises landlords against letting emotions factor into their decisions. Instead, it’s important to ensure that you take the time to establish expectations from the start. Set expectations on when the rent’s due, make it clear that you expect it on time and outline how tenants can pay. You’ll also want to discuss what happens when it’s late, and when late fees will apply. Renters Warehouse has a consistent process, on when communication goes out if rent’s late, which sends a message that they expect the rent to be on time, every time.  

When Things Go Wrong: Tips for Handling Evictions

While evictions are never pleasant for anyone, in some cases, they’re necessary.

However, before jumping straight into the eviction process, it’s often a good idea to approach the tenant first, to see if you can work with them to help get things back on track.

Here are some tips that Kevin and Josh recommend: 

  • Make an effort to reestablish communication
  • Work with the tenant to reorganize the payment structure or adjust due dates
  • Set up a payment plan to help them get caught up. However, if they don’t follow that, then it’s best to move forward with an eviction.
  • Or, try to offer them a way out. Giving them an option to end the lease will keep them from having an eviction on their record.

At the end of the day, property management can be hard work –but it can be tremendously rewarding as well. Make sure you’re aware of your responsibilities and establish good systems from the start to keep everyone on the same page.

Tune into this episode to find out how you can manage your properties –successfully.

At Renters Warehouse, we’re passionate about real estate –and giving investors access to information that they need. Our goal is to transform SFR investing –by making it easier to invest –and manage your SFR portfolio.

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