Being a landlord can be very rewarding, but in order to have a good experience you have to follow some basic rules to do it right and trust me you want to do it right.
- Remember it is a business.
Your tenants are your clients, so while you always want to be friendly and professional you do not want to be their friend. You may have some difficult conversations coming up and a friendship will make them too comfortable and you uncomfortable having those discussions.
- Be Clear on Your Policies and Procedures
Who takes care of the landscape? Can they have pets? Do you care if they smoke in the unit? How many cars can they have? Can they park a work van on property? Who handles water, sewer, and trash? These are all policies and procedures that need to be addressed within the lease. Sometimes new landlords forget this and when it comes up later you can’t enforce what isn’t in the lease.
- If you put it in your lease agreement be ready to enforce it.
The lease agreement is a contract you both are bound to. You have to perform and enforce the contract. If you do not enforce it it could bite you later in front of a judge.
For example: Even though you were trying to be nice by not charging the late fee, the tenant can then argue they didn’t think they ever would be charged because you waived it the one time. Even though you were being nice, you broke the contract. Even if in their favor the contract was still broken.
So bottom line if you put it in the lease you have to enforce it.
- The security deposit.
The number one reason for lawsuits is security deposit issues. Make sure a tenant fills out a move in form with any damages that are there and you take pictures. Then when they move out walk with them and take pictures of any damage. You must have photos of the damage and a bill for the repair. This is what you will need if your tenant does take you to court. You have to get a tenants security deposit back within 30 days, so you have to move fast and have a handyman ready.
Also, make sure part of the deposit is non refundable to cover things like cleaning and if you have carpet then carpet cleaning.
You will want to bring in professional companies to clean at move out.
- Run a proper credit and background check
A lot of time new landlords just want to get someone moved in. They seem nice and honest, so you give them the benefit of the doubt. Never do this. You ALWAYS want to run a credit and background check. There are rental screening websites that do this for you. You then charge the potential tenant for the application fee. Never assume or give people the benefit of the doubt. I always say trust, but verify.
- Fix what is broken
If you want quality tenants you have to be a quality landlord. If something is broken then fix it quickly. By law, you have 10 days for major repairs. Have a handyman on call who can fix the problems as needed. Also do not let the tenant fix things on their own.
If you follow these simple tips you will be well on your way to being a successful landlord.