Being a landlord can be a very lucrative way to earn a living or create an additional cash flow for you. At this point most savvy investors understand that there is quite a bit more to the process than just finding a tenant to live in your property, and give you the money you ask for each month. There are laws, requirements, pitfalls, regular maintenance, personalities, unique preferences, and so many other factors to include in order to achieve success. There is no reason, however, that you can’t be a winning landlord that is well liked by your tenants.
Follow these five tips and watch as your properties fill with excellent tenants who are happy to treat your property with respect.
1 Understand What You Can Do
Before you begin your search for quality applicants it is essential that you know what you can and cannot do as a landlord. Each state varies in the laws that guide how landlords may operate, and what tenants are legally entitled to. In order to be well-versed in your own rights as a landlord be sure to reference the laws established by your state. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a great resource for landlords that will assist you anywhere you operate in the country. Click Here to see it.
2 Know Your Clients and be Transparent About it
One thing that all states have in common about landlord requirements is protection for tenants against discrimination. The best way to comply with this requirement is to use factual information about all applicants, and keeping to a consistent policy of requirements to be approved. Most applicants view screening as a hassle and lament being required to pay an ambiguous fee just to be considered for a property. Stand out from the start by letting your applicants be included in the process, and understand exactly what you are looking for. Using a direct-to-consumer tenant screening option lets your applicants see the information you are using to determine if they will be approved. It offers a convenient process that gives both parties piece of mind, and provides an incentive for applicants who can know what their background report shows about them.
3 Prepare Yourself to be Flexible
Let’s be realistic about this; rental applicants are really just consumers looking to make a purchase. There are far too many resources available to assume that applicants can be treated to a cookie cutter product without feeling like they are sacrificing something along the way. Be prepared to allow some customizations within your lease agreement that will delight your new customers without forfeiting your own protections as the landlord and property owner. You can generally find basic lease agreements at your local apartment association. Familiarize yourself with the areas that you plan to be firm about to reduce liabilities and keep things legal, but keep sections of the agreement in mind that can be modified. Not all applicants will raise issues with your standard lease, but for the ones who might be showing signs of anxiety it will make you look like a great landlord to offer options that will put them at ease.
4 Show New Tenants You Care
Remind yourself of what is it like moving to a new house, or even a new city. There is no shortage of stress during this period and it is compounded with each new task that gets added to the list. Have some basic resources ready to go that can make your renters feel at home more quickly. Having a new tenant envelope with a USPS change of address form, a list of local utility providers, a page with some local retailers nearby and any information about the neighborhood you can share will go a long way. What is second nature to you from having owned this house for a longer period of time can have a tremendously positive impact on your renters.
Any article, book, magazine, office memo, etc. you read that talks about building good relationships will at some point stress the importance of communication. Being a landlord is no exception, and it begins from the first time an applicant contacts you with an interest in renting the property. When the lease is signed, and your applicants are officially your renters, you should be sure that they have everything they need to get a hold of you. Include any relevant contact numbers; inform them about all available methods such as texting, phone calls or emails; provide them with any opportune times to get in touch with you. Once they have all of this information it becomes your responsibility to demonstrate that you care about them and your property by responding in a timely manner. If you show them that it takes days to get in touch with you over a property concern, you are implanting the idea that they are not a priority in your life and neither is your property.
As an additional good practice to show open communication, it is a nice gesture to check in on new renters around a month after they move in. Depending on your comfort level with the renters this can be by phone call or text message, but it can even be as unobtrusive as sending a letter by mail. This is also a good opportunity to remind them of your contact information should any problems arise at the property.