Working as a landlord for the first time is an exciting new opportunity, but it’s important to go about it the right way. Landlording is a more challenging job than many people think, especially if you don’t do your due diligence and take care of your tenants and property.
Legal considerations, insurance, and property maintenance are just a few examples of responsibilities and potential problems that landlords are expected to take care of on a daily basis. All of these can be overwhelming to a newcomer, but the right approach and preparation make all the difference. If you just became a landlord, or are considering buying your first rental property, take a look at a few helpful tips for first-time landlords.
Always screen your tenants thoroughly
Failing to adequately screen tenants is a common early mistake, and it often comes back to haunt you. Don’t wait for a seemingly innocent tenant to burn you — make sure that anyone who rents your property has gone through the proper screening channels. A screening report on a potential tenant should always include their credit score and history, criminal history, and any prior evictions. Many experienced landlords also request employment and pay rate information as well as references from previous landlords.
In the past, screening tenants was a drawn out and complicated process. Luckily, modern technology and the internet has changed all that. It is easier than ever to perform a tenant credit check using any number of online services that compile and lay out all pertinent information on a potential tenant in an easy-to-read screening report.
Treat your tenants with respect and fairness
Landlord and tenant relationships can be a balancing act. Many newer landlords are hesitant to be strict or set too many rules in their properties, in hopes of building a positive rapport with tenants. Other landlords adhere to a more stern philosophy. The approach you choose ultimately depends on your personality and preferences, but no matter what, it is most important to be open and respectful with your tenants. Lay out your rules in a clear and concise manner, and be sure to put everything in writing.
Additionally, you should always be open to having a conversation with your tenants to hear out their concerns or opinions. The landlord-tenant relationship is very much a two-way street, and a certain level of respect from both sides is necessary for a truly healthy professional relationship. This should have nothing to do with personal feelings; you and your tenants don’t need to be best friends, but you need to trust each other’s word.
Branding and reputation matters
Make no mistake, working as a landlord is essentially running a small business. While that may be hard for some newer landlords to wrap their heads around, it rings true nonetheless. With this in mind, reputation and branding matter. Just like a car dealership, restaurant, or retail store, landlords need to build up a trustworthy and attractive business reputation.
This sentiment rings especially true today. With online review sites and apps more popular than ever, it won’t take long before word is out about how you’re treating your clients, good or bad.
Respond to repair and maintenance requests in a timely manner
Be sure to always take your tenants’ repair or maintenance requests seriously. Countless landlords make the mistake of letting a repair request go unacknowledged for too long, leading to an unnecessary dispute. Even if the request doesn’t classify as an emergency or health hazard, responding to the initial request in a timely manner can go a long way towards making sure your tenant feels heard.
Beyond just adhering to your local state or township building maintenance safety regulations, it is in your best interest to do everything you can to ensure that your tenant is comfortable.