When you get the keys to that first rental property, there’s a pep to your step. The birds are chirping. The sun is shining. And your mind is SPINNING.
There are so many landlords don’t know we could write a book on it. Oh wait, we already did that. However, there are a few key general points first-time landlords should absolutely follow if they are to be successful in the doggie-dog world (looking at you, Michael Scott) of real estate. Just kidding, we mean the dog-eat-dog world of real estate.
First-timers here’s to you:
Don’t Take Your Rental Personally, It’s Just Business
Even if being a landlord isn’t your primary job, and it most certainly is not considering this is supposed to be your first property, it’s important to treat it like it is. That means be professional. Keep track of finances. You want an ROI (return on investment), not a WOI (waste on investment).
Follow the law (surprisingly, that doesn’t go without saying). Look at the Fair Housing Act. Treat your reputation as your business because that’s exactly what it is. Be a fair and prosperous landlord, not a dark and brooding slumlord.
Keep your distance from liability claims by buying landlord insurance. Yes, spending more money sucks—but losing more money due to theft and shoddy plumbing sucks more. Landlord insurance protects you from tenants who sue you.
The cheapest way to avoid unforeseen litigation? Maintain your unit and be aware of what’s wrong with it. Nothing is perfect despite what your optimistic limited analysis of the property may tell you. Find out what’s wrong and the extent of it so you don’t regret it later.
Just as well, keep in mind certain problems will require emergency attention, ie heater breaking in winter, your tenant getting locked out, a gas leak, etc. Know how will you respond to these situations to protect yourself, your tenant, and your property.
Use the Internet to Find Tenants
Considering you’re reading landlord advice on the internet right now, you probably know the internet is an immensely helpful resource. Here’s a secret, it’s not just good for advice; it’s good for business.
The single best way to find tenants is to use the information superhighway. List your properties as we show here, and espouse about here, and watch the listings roll in. We personally prefer Craigslist even though it looks like the Silk Road of real estate (don’t know what the Silk Road is? You’re probably better off). The fact is so many good candidates still peruse Craigslist despite its antique aesthetic.
Some other fantastic more friendly listing sites include Zillow and Trulia, particularly for the Millennial demographic. Cool interactive maps, abundant space for photos and elegant templates make it easy to showcase even your abandoned shed out back in a flattering light.
Use Tenant Screening
Tenant Screening makes a difference. We’ve said it once. We’ve said it a thousand times. It reduces tenant turnover. It protects your investment. It’s free! Need we say more?
We already did that, too. Check it out here. But really, we can’t help you if you choose not to use free software to make more money and simplify your landlord process from start to finish.
Create and Implement a Rental Application for Goodness’ Sake!
The rental application is your first glimpse at a tenant. The tenant screening is the private investigator who does some digging to find out if they’re telling the truth plus some. A proper rental application requires a name, address, reason for moving, employer information, income, and landlord references.
The more detailed the rental application, the better idea you have of who’s applying for your property. By the way, Renter Evaluation is a rental application in and of itself. So if you use comprehensive, free tenant screening in just two clicks on your end, you also have the perfect rental application put together by over 25 years worth of property management experience.
Always Consider the Cost of Vacancy.
While on the surface, vacancy seems to just mean you’re not making money. It, in fact, means you’re losing money—A LOT of it.
You’re not seeing a rental income. You’re still paying a mortgage. You’re still paying upkeep. You’re still paying a property management company (if you hired one, anyway). You’re still shelling out money. You’re just not getting anything back.
That’s why it pays to go the extra mile as a landlord to retain good tenants and reduce tenant turnover. Good tenants take care of your property for you, to pay your mortgage, and don’t cause headaches. Sound too good to be tur? It isn’t. Just use tenant screening, like Renter Evaluation.
There are some snippets of information from 25 years of experience from the professionals here at RenterEvaluation. Check out our blog to learn more.