For most of us, rental home management is a trial-by-fire, learn as you go, unpredictable journey into the unknown. Countless laws, innumerable statutes, and unknown property deficiencies are just some of the infinite tripwires and obstacles designed to hold you back on your way to stress-free passive income.
Yet, despite the invisible pitfalls in the jungle of rental home management, there are those who have blazed away before you, like us. Learn from those who succeeded. Learn from those who failed. Learn from history. Like Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
So climb onto our broad shoulders and stick your head through the dense canopy of misinformation to see the sun of rental home management insight. Here are the five most common “uh-oh’s” of rental home management nearly every landlord & property management company falls victim to at some point or another. Get ahead of the pack and the feeling wind at your back, courtesy of tenant screening services giant, TenantEvaluation:
Just like relationships, so, SO, many tenant-landlord problems are caused by miscommunication and unfulfilled expectations. To give more concrete advice, keep communication lines open. To give even more concrete advice, keep a log of everything so all requests are, well, LOGGED.
This way, when a tenant claims to have requested you repair their leaky faucet, you can verify it. Moreover, if they really did request maintenance, you will see it in writing and be more likely to complete said request in as timely a manner as possible because you will have tangible evidence of the request staring you in the face.
The key takeaway? Set up an email contact form or email address specifically for maintenance requests. Then check the email. It’s a simple solution to what can become a complex problem. It automatically logs all requests immediately, and only takes a moment to check in the mornings when you wake up.
Stay on top of your game by staying on top of your inbox. It’s that simple.
Poorly Designed Lease Agreements
What you don’t clarify in the lease, you don’t clarify at all. Handshake agreements do not hold up in court. Explicitly state expectations regarding deposits, contract terms, late fees, utilities, rental payments, evictions, and anything and everything under the sun concerning your property.
What’s more, USE A LAWYER. Your modest background googling landlord legislation and watching A Few Good Men will not help when your convoluted lease agreement is challenged by a tenacious tenant in front of an unsympathetic judge.
Key takeaway? USE A LAWYER & BE EXHAUSTIVE in your lease agreement
Approving under-qualified tenants
Under-qualified tenants lead to underpaid rent and over-paid expenses, like evictions. Evictions cost more than 5 grand when taking into account opportunity cost, legal fees, locksmith fees, penalties, etc, etc.
Don’t be a victim. How? Use tenant screening. Unfortunately, this may mean NOT renting to your slacker cousin or freshman college roommate who “just needs a place to crash.” You’re welcome.
When it comes to paying your mortgage, the only thing that counts is money. Not love. Not friendship. Money. That said if you feel a barter system is more valuable than more cash in your wallet, feel free to be creative.
Most need the dollars, however, and that’s why TenantEvaluation’s free tenant screening services are undoubtedly the best option for landlords, property managers, and real estate agents. We put together a comprehensive easy to read and easier to understand secure report that evaluates credit, criminal, and eviction history to guarantee you peace of mind when filling your vacancy.
Key Takeaway? Use TenantEvaluation. Oops, we meant tenant screening, ;).
It may seem obvious, but ignoring safety standards is the worst thing you can do as a landlord. Lazy Sundays mean dazed Mondays full of legal notices and overwhelming stress. Get off the couch on the weekend to ensure your property is up to par for safety inspections or face the heinous wrath of the judicial system later.
This includes everything from smoke alarms, to gas leaks, to staircases, to faulty fixtures, to everything else in your property. For more details, check out this safety inspection checklist.
Key Takeaway? Play it safe when it comes to safety and be proactive.
Hiring Unskilled Workers
It’s incredibly tempting to hire cheaper contractors in order to save money. It seems simple. Pay one worker $15 an hour or pay an expert $30 an hour for the same job. You spend half the money, right? Wrong.
Say you hire the lesser skilled worker for the $15/hour and the worker takes three times as long to complete the job as the expert. For instance, the job takes an expert for two hours and the cheaper laborer six hours.
That’s $30 an hour for two hours ($60) with the expert versus $15/hour for six hours (90$) with the rookie.
In this scenario, you actually spend 50% more money on less trusted, lower caliber work. When comparing quotes, take the estimated time for completion into account.
Key takeaway? Remember, more expensive per hour often means fewer hours to complete a project and higher quality work.
Getting into rental home management? Don’t:
-Write a vague lease agreement without legal counsel
-Approve under-qualified tenants
-Ignore safety standards
-Hire cheap labor to save money
It may seem simple, but in the throes of rental home management, being lazy makes passive income active income. Put in the work to see an easy pay-off in the future. It’s that simple.