Ask any former Landlord what their biggest issue was, and you’ll always get the same answer: “The Tenants”.
Your tenants are both your greatest benefit (they pay the rent, after all), as well as your biggest annoyance. No one else is going to call you at 3AM because of a leaky Air Conditioning unit, or try and sneak their 200 lbs rottweiler into the building.
Some of us became landlords accidentally, while others entered this business to quit their 9 to 5. Regardless of how, or why, you’re a landlord, the rules for success are the same. And love ’em or hate ’em, a lot of your success is going to focus on how you deal with tenants.
1. Never be The Final Decision Maker
This is the most important thing any Landlord can do. It’s a well known negotiating technique
. Whenever a Tenant has a complaint, simply tell them it’s from the owner. You’re always just the property manager or owner’s representative. This may require operating the rental under an LLC and a few other notes, but it’s well worth it.
2. Never Stop Learning
Being a real estate investor and landlord constantly requires education and knowledge. There is so much information out there that can help double or triple your real estate business over time. We’re big fans of anything John T. Reed
publishes, and of course everything on BiggerPockets.com
3. Know Your Marketplace
Surprisingly, A lot of landlords don’t have a clue about their marketplace. What are the normal rents? What kind of tenants does the area attract? What is included standard with rentals? Who generally pays the utility bills? These are important questions, and the answers differ significantly by region and market. Knowing them is important.
You’re competing against hundred of other business that offer a similar product, and advertise in the same place. How do you make your ads and your product stand out? In other words, how do you get your listings noticed on sites like Craigslist, Zillow and Trulia? Head to the local library and pick up a book or two on marketing, and get to work.
5. Network Network Network
It’s important to know what’s going in your market, so make sure to network. Networking also helps you find better deals for more properties and services that might not be available elsewhere. Join local apartment associations, find a local real estate investing group on Meetup.com
, and of course, check out BiggerPockets
6. Know the Law
You don’t need to be a lawyer, but you should have a good understanding of local and federal laws. Read up on the Fair Housing Act, your state’s equivalent law, as well as the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Find out what, if any, local ordinances there are, and how they affect you. For example, some jurisdictions require licensing for every unit that you own and rent out. Others prohibit AirBNB. It’s important to research and find out exactly what’s going on in your area. This is another reason why networking and joining a local apartment association can be so helpful.
7. Be Organized
Keep everything relating to your rentals separate and organized. Maintain a calendar and a log book so you can know what happens, when. Consider getting a google voice number so you can track calls but also maintain privacy.
8. Be Professional
Being a professional Landlord is not that hard. Maintain specific hours of when you are always reachable by tenants, and defer anything outside that time except emergencies until the next time. Create actual policies and stick to them. Not only does this make life easier, it gives you another higher authority to defer to. “I’m Sorry John, we only accept checks and credit cards, no cash. It’s our policy.”
9. Care About Your Properties
Your properties, along with your tenants, are the life blood of your business. You don’t need to coat everything in gold plating, but you need to make sure you offer a quality rental that meets and exceeds renter expectations. It can be simple things like a fresh coat of paint and functioning air conditioning, or even extra add ons like a digital keyhole. The specifics will depend on your budget, your market, and you. The important thing is to go the extra mile and make sure your tenants know you’re doing it for them, too.
What are your best ways to improve your rental business? Share in the comments below and on facebook!