At times managing a rental property can act as a full time job. Even if you have great tenants property issues always pop up from time to time. Most of these are minor in nature but nevertheless still needed to be treated with a sense of urgency. How well you take care of these will often define your success with the property.
On certain properties there is not be enough cash flow to warrant hiring a property manager. In these situations you are forced to cover their responsibilities. Fortunately with the right attitude and the right team in place this can be easily achieved. Here are four tips to help self-manage your rental property.
- Handyman On Speed Dial. Regardless of how handy you are it is essential that you have a handyman on speed dial. Anyone that has ever owned a rental property knows that little things pop up from time to time. Between clogged toilets and broken appliances alone you can expect to be at the house a few times a month. Instead of having to drop what you are doing, drive to the house to access the issue, find the parts and repair what’s broken you should have a reliable handy man that you can call. This will save you at least an average of a few hours a week and allow you to focus on other areas of your business. What you never want to do is pay to have work done twice. By using a reliable professional that can handle multiple tasks you can be assured that you are not just putting a band aid on the job but actually fixing it right.
- 24 Hour Reply Rule. As the owner you should treat your tenants like you would treat a guest at a hotel. You should expect that there will be issues that come up from time to time and work to make them happy. While these issues may not seem like a big deal to you they are critical to your tenants. The house will run without a working washing machine or dishwasher but your tenants will be disappointed. As the owner/property manager you need to make a point to return all calls within 24 hours. The longer your tenants wait the more they begin to doubt you as an owner. Instead of calling you with a small problem they will hide it and let it turn into a bigger one. Instead of taking care of the property like their own they won’t be nearly as enthusiastic. This is especially the case if you have any interested in bringing your tenants back. They can find other properties where the landlords are more active and treat their tenants better. As soon as you get a call from your tenant you need to get on it as soon as possible.
- Start New Tenant Search Early. One of the biggest mistakes that novice landlords make is not starting their tenant search early enough. A dedicated property manager would strive to have a new tenant lined up weeks before the current lease is over. With everything else going on in your business it can be easy to overlook this part of the process. If you don’t have new tenants coming in nothing else matters. You need to give yourself plenty of time to not only find your next tenant but find the right one. This should start as soon as 90 days until the end of your existing lease. There are more real estate websites than ever before not to mention the growth of social media. You should never have to scramble around a week or two before a vacancy. Give yourself plenty of time to find your next tenant.
- Move In/Out Rules. If you are going to manage the property yourself you need to have clearly defined move in and out rules. A typical property manager would handle the lease review and final walk through. Without their aid this is one of the areas that can make or break a lease. You need to spend time going over the lease so there are no surprises. Discuss expectations, rules and guidelines. Go through the lease line by line asking if they have any questions or concerns. A few extra minutes before the lease starts will make your life much easier over the next nine months. You should also give yourself plenty of time discussing the end of the lease. Starting two months out you should discuss the end of lease procedure. Explain the condition the property needs to be in and which items need to be where. Make it clear how the walk-through will occur and when security funds will be returned. The end of the current lease and start of a new one doesn’t have to be filled with stress and anxiety. The better communication you have up front the smoother the transition will be.
In a perfect world you could just hire a property manager and let them deal with the headaches. Not all rentals have this luxury. There are plenty of good landlords who self-manage their rentals. The key is that they acknowledge that they are constantly on call. Having this mindset allows them to deal with whatever comes their way.