Owning a rental property and collecting rent checks is one of the best aspects of real estate investing. As great as being a landlord is it is far from easy. There is a lot that goes into owning a rental property. Between finding a good property, good tenants and putting a good team in place there are plenty of moving parts. Regardless of the size of your property or the number of tenants how you act as a landlord is critical. You are judged on everything you do. Sometimes the minor actions you make can have the greatest impact. It is no secret that better landlords run efficient properties that maximize rental return. Here are four was you can become a better landlord.
- Run It Like A Business. Every property you own should be treated like its own unique business. Think of everything you would have in place if you opened a new business. Marketing, support staff, numbers, systems and processes should all be clearly defined. There should be nothing that comes at you that is a surprise. This doesn’t mean you plan for the worst case scenario but you at least know that it exists. You should first ask yourself if you are looking to maximize every dollar of cash flow or are you willing to make less but do less work. If you are willing to keep your free time you should look at putting the best possible team in place. A good property manager will handle all of the mundane tasks necessary to run a profitable property. You are still in the picture but you will not go crazy dealing with all of the time eating tasks you despise. To get the most out of your investment you need to run your rental property like a business.
- Better House = Better Tenants. Owning a rental property doesn’t mean you can just recycle tenants year after year without doing any work. You need to be willing to spend time and money on your property. It is no secret that better properties produce better tenants. A property with overgrown bushes and weeds in the driveway may not seem like a big deal but it creates an impression to your tenants. If your tenants feel that you don’t care about maintaining the property either will they. Instead of going the extra mile to make sure the condition remains intact they will slowly let your property slide. This damage will not be enough to withhold a security deposit but over time makes a tremendous impact. Sometimes just doing the little things in keeping the property updated is enough to find better tenants. If the property looks immaculate inside and out tenants know they have a higher standard to follow. You may not be able to command a higher rent for a cleaner property but you can get a better tenant.
- Respond Quickly. One of the biggest pet peeves that tenants have is not being able to get in touch with their landlords or property managers. As the landlord you need to make it a priority to have all calls, texts and emails returned as quickly as possible. It can be frustrating getting called every time a light bulb needs to be changed or a tenant has a ridiculous question but that is all part of the job. These issues may not seem like a big deal to you but to your tenant they can be important. Responding quickly, regardless of the situation, shows your tenant that you care about them and the property. This will help get rent checks sent in on time and have your tenants take extra care of the property. By responding quickly they will be much more inclined to inform you if there are minor issues with the property that if not resolved can turn into bigger, more expensive, ones.
- Good Tenants. You are only as good as your tenants. The best landlords understand that they need to spend enough time in the screening process. There will always be a temptation to rent to the first semi qualified tenant that comes your way. Your goal as a landlord is not to find the first tenant but to find the best one. A good tenant will make renting as easy as you imagined. A bad tenant is where you get all the horror stories and nightmares. Not only does your tenant need to pay on time and take care of the property but you need to be able to get along with them. You don’t have to be best friends with your tenant but you should at least be friendly. You are holding your tenants with the responsibility of living in your house and taking care of it. This should only be done after you fully review their application, follow up with any references and personally get to know them. It is easier to be a better landlord if you have better tenants. Spend however long it takes to ensure you have the best possible tenants.
To be a good landlord you need to accept that things won’t always go as smoothly as you would like. There will be unexpected issues with the property or with your tenants. If you can accept this and quickly move on you will be a better landlord. The little things with a rental property go a long way.