Whether you’re a seasoned real estate professional, or new to the industry, whether you’re using a rental as a primary form of income, or simply a passive revenue stream, property management is a serious business and should be treated as such. It can, however, be difficult to start out—especially when you have no clear direction on where to go or how to begin. There are many things to consider when starting as a landlord, from the location of the property you’re renting out to whether it’s in good enough condition to rent.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a good idea to research property management in Portland Oregon first prior to putting your property up for rent.
Here are 10 key property management tips for landlords.
No matter who you are, how big your business is, or where you’re located, it’s very important to maintain the property you’re renting out, and establish authority from the beginning of the rental agreement. By letting the tenants know that you’re to be taken seriously as the landlord, you’ll stop them from walking all over you and disrespecting your property. Remember, if you allow it once it will no doubt happen again.
- Keep Detailed Digital Records
Records are very important, particularly when you’re a landlord, but their level of detail can make all the difference. For instance, you don’t want to be searching through your records for something specific like a maintenance receipt or communications with a tenant, only find that the records are vague or missing.
Similarly, if you’re having to go to court over an issue involving a tenant, you’ll want to make sure your records are as detailed as possible, as this will increase the likelihood of coming out on top. Digital records are much easier to handle than physical piles of paper to sort through and file.
- Utilize The Internet
In current society, the internet is used for a vast number of tasks, from marketing to managing a business. Thus, it’s better to grow with the times than work against them. Creating ads for your available properties, finding tenants online, and researching the best maintenance companies are just a few ways for landlords to utilize the internet. They’re also a good way to elevate the exposure of your property and reach a number of different markets and audiences, as a lot more individuals utilize the internet these days to find apartments or houses for rent.
As far as utilizing the internet to find the best maintenance companies, it’s almost like a digital phonebook. You can find details like business names, phone numbers, hours of operation, websites, and addresses online, which in the end, makes life a little bit easier.
Additionally, utilizing a property management or bookkeeping software could also be worth exploring for such tasks as online rent payments, communicating with the tenants, and sorting through repair requests, limiting the amount of paper that flows through your office or mailbox.
- Thorough Tenant Screenings
What’s the most important part of renting out a property? Tenants! It’s important to make sure your tenant screenings are as thorough as possible, so you’re able to sort ideal tenants from unreliable ones. The best tenants are individuals who can pay on time, take care of the property, and have no criminal background.
Some landlords go as far as to check credit reports to get an idea of how responsible the future tenant is with finances, and whether there are any negative marks on their report. This is not always a reliable indicator, but it can be enlightening. A thorough tenant screening can, also, potentially weed out the individuals who are not the right fit based on eviction history, low income, or owning a pet if you do not allow pets on your properties.
- Follow The Laws
This one should be obvious, but to be safe, it’s always a good idea to refresh your memory on fair housing laws for your state. If this is entirely new to you, then there are resources such as maps online, thanks to the American Apartment Owners Association, that can guide you in the right direction. It’s as simple as finding your state on the map and reading about all the laws you should know before renting out your property. If you have specific legal questions, it may be wise to speak with a property lawyer, to ensure you’re doing the right thing and are well-equipped to handle any rental issues that arise. No one wants to get caught in a tricky legal situation because they overlooked something.
- Rental Applications
Rental applications are a good way to gather information about your prospective tenant in categories such as their name, current address, employment, income, whether they have any landlord references, whether they’re bringing a pet with them. The list can go on based on what you think is important. Sometimes, what you learn beforehand will help shape a decision as to whether or not you want to continue with a certain individual. If you don’t wish to proceed, then you’ll at least be able to supply reasons like you don’t allow pets, or their income is insufficient based on the “3x total rent” rule most Landlords follow.
If this rule is unfamiliar, here’s a breakdown. Let’s say you’re renting out your property for $850 per month; you’d multiply that by 3, which is $2,550. This is the number that their total monthly income should be. It essentially ensures they’ll be able to afford monthly rent. However, it’s within your discretion whether you want to allow a little wiggle room on this figure though, as it’s your property.
- Landlord Insurance
Acquiring landlord insurance is a good way to protect yourself and your tenants from any future complications that could potentially lead to legal action. Whether it’s theft or damaged belongings, you want to make sure you’re covered in any major unforeseen circumstances. There are numerous different insurance policies available for landlords wanting to protect their property, depending on the level of cover you’re after. Some people only want basic coverage, while others are happy to pay higher premiums to ensure their property is protected under many different occurrences, from flooding to fire and tenant damage.
- Offer Incentives To Good Tenants
Regardless of who you are, it’s important to anyone to be acknowledged for good work. So, why not acknowledge the tenants that are doing a good job of submitting rent on time, and upkeeping the property they’re renting? This could be something as small as one hundred dollars off a month of rent, or a month of free access to the swimming pool. Or, something as big as a discounted rate if they sign another lease with you after their current one runs out. Really, it boils down to what you think is appropriate and what’s within your power to offer. Of course, offering incentives doesn’t guarantee your tenants will be reliable going forward, but it is likely to foster a healthy business arrangement where both parties are satisfied.
- Enforce Your Rules
This is your property, so it’s imperative you implement and enforce your own rules on tenants. If you don’t, then who will? These could range from upkeep on the property to parking in their assigned spots and cleaning up after their pets (if you allow them). The most important of these would probably be enforcing a late rent fee.
Tenants have to learn that you’re serious about the rules, and in turn they’ll come to respect them. If you do not enforce your own rules then there’s a good chance tenants will take advantage of your leniency, and once that ball starts rolling, it’s hard to stop.
- Hiring Staff
If you’re a landlord with multiple properties, hiring staff may be a good idea to ensure all properties are given the attention they require. This hiring process is as important as finding the right tenants.
Ensure your job application is thorough and contains questions such as: job history, reasons for leaving previous employment, expected rate of pay, reliable transportation, and criminal history. You wouldn’t want to hire someone who was caught stealing from a previous establishment.
When you’ve hired, pay attention to any complaints against your employees. There is always the chance of them being fabricated, but if these complaints are swept under the rug, there’s a chance that serious problems will develop unbeknownst to you as the landlord. Finally, make sure to treat staff with respect; if they’re happy with the work environment, they’re more likely to stay.
Sometimes trial and error is the best way to learn how to approach a task, but not with your rental property. If you’re a landlord, it’s important you take care of both your property and your tenants to ensure you’re achieving the maximum return. Tips such as organizing rental insurance, conducting thorough tenant screenings, and enforcing the rules will help you to manage your rental property effectively.