There is a common misconception that being a landlord is a great, easy way to make some money, but that is often not the case. Renting out a property can be a time-consuming and energy-draining task, but it has its' perks. I have lived in many different rental properties throughout my years as a college student, and I appreciate the time and care these owners have put into their respective properties. However, if the property owner seems distant or acts ill-mannered, the experience I have at that property isn't as good. Understanding how to pick your tenants and communicate with them creates a healthier and happier experience for everyone involved.
- Screen your applicants well before choosing. Making sure you have quality tenants is the most important first step to becoming a landlord. This can be a time-consuming project, but will ease your mind in the long run. Consider verifying their income, performing a background check, and checking out their rental history.
- Educate your tenants when they first move in. Spend some time discussing the different aspects of the lease when they first arrive. Communicate the different responsibilities and rights they have in signing the agreement, and make sure they understand what their obligations are as the tenants.
- Set the standards for what is expected of them. Expanding on number two, make sure your tenants understand what is expected of them. This will improve the quality of your communications with each other dramatically. Who is responsible for taking care of the lawn? Do tenants pay their own electric/cable bills? How quickly should the tenants make you aware of repairs needed at the property?
- Be available. Make sure you are checking your email and phone often to keep that line of communication open. Consider creating an alert on your phone to sound when your tenant has reached out to you. Even if you just reply with a couple of words like "Okay" or "I will look into it", your tenants will understand that you have received their message and already addressing the issue.
- Stay on top of repairs. Nothing makes a tenant more unhappy than when repairs are not taken care of in a timely manner. Follow #4 and be available so if things go wrong, you can quickly send aid.
- Let your tenants know in advance if you plan on visiting. Make sure you notify your tenants in advance if you plan on stopping by for a checkup. The general rule of thumb is to give tenants a two-week notice.
- Treat your tenants with respect. If you treat your tenants with respect, they will treat you with respect as well.
- Follow the guidelines in the lease. That lease is there for a reason! No matter if the circumstance are good or bad, make sure you are following the guidelines in the lease. It is the document that will be used to determine if there is a breach on either side of the contract.