Collecting the rent may be an important part of being a landlord, but it’s far from the only task that you’ll need to tackle if you want to capitalize effectively on your rental properties. Successful landlords start their to-do lists before welcoming their first tenant, and their efforts continue as long as they own rental units. If you’re considering taking the plunge, these tips for being a landlord can help you understand what the role requires and how to excel at it.
Tips for Being a Landlord
Some people eagerly seek out the role of landlord; they invest in rental properties as a way to grow their wealth. Other people find themselves saddled with the job when they realize that, in their specific situation, it makes more sense to rent out their property than to sell it. Whatever your personal path to owning rental property looks like, following these seven tips for being a landlord can help you thrive in the role.
Tip #1: Treat Your Rental Property Like a Business
Whether managing your rental property is your full-time job or a side hustle, it’s vital that you treat it like a business. SmartMove urges every landlord to keep all interactions with tenants and vendors professional. Landlords also need to meet their responsibilities, manage their finances carefully, take steps to protect themselves from liability issues, and be mindful of their professional reputations. Remember that even if you’re renting your property to a family member or friend, you should treat it as a business.
Tip #2: Know the Laws
Nationwide points out that rental units operate under a blend of federal, state, and local rules, regulations, and building codes. Landlords need to know the laws that apply to their properties and be prepared to comply with them. Failure to do so can lead to litigation, fines, disputes, and other headaches.
Tip #3: Put It in Writing
Your lease agreement is a binding contract that lays out what the landlord and the tenants can and cannot do. It also explains the process and consequences involved in breaking the lease. Don’t skimp on the lease. Putting things in writing before issues arise can help you avoid misunderstandings and head off conflicts. As MillionAcres indicates, your lease should tackle a variety of topics, including the following:
- Basic terms, clauses, and language required by the applicable laws
- Rules governing property alterations
- Responsibilities for lawn maintenance
- Pest control
- Property use
Tip #4: Screen Tenants Effectively
Good tenants will make your life as a landlord much easier, so effective screening of potential tenants is essential. Ideally, you want a tenant who will pay their rent each month and treat your property with respect and care. Landlordology suggests creating an application and screening process that includes credit and background checks to find tenants with good credit, sufficient income, and solid references.
Tip #5: Have a Plan for Repairs and Maintenance
What happens when something breaks? How will you handle routine maintenance? As MoneyCrashers notes, having a plan in place to deal with common eventualities like those protects both your property and your positive relationship with your tenants. Foster good communication with your tenants, complete repairs promptly, and schedule maintenance at convenient times.
Tip #6: Use the Internet
The internet can be an invaluable tool for landlords. As MillionAcres reports, property management software can help you advertise your rental property, manage repair requests, and communicate with your tenants. Using it will also let you collect deposits, monthly rent payments, or late fees online.
Tip #7: Keep Good Records
As a landlord, it’s important to keep receipts and be able to find them if needed. Having copies of rent, deposit, and maintenance receipts and a record of all landlord-tenant communications can make all the difference if a dispute requires that you head to court. SmartMove suggests opting for digital records to retain what you need while minimizing clutter.
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