Owning real estate can provide much financial security, freedom, and a sense of pride. However, its multiple responsibilities, such as tenant issues, contracts, and maintenance, can be challenging and take significant time and effort. A landlord can suffer legal and financial ramifications without proper preparation and knowledge. Whether a newcomer to owning rental properties an experienced manager, the following tips will help you build and protect your financial investment.
Understand state and local laws—Be aware of your rights as a landlord, as well as the rights of your tenants. Protect yourself with liability insurance in case of lawsuits and insure your property in case of fire, storms, burglary, or vandalism. Be conscious of safety and security through regular inspections to ensure you are up-to-code with all utilities. Protect your tenants by making them aware of hazards and addressing defective conditions to avoid injury or health complications. Inspect the rental unit before the tenant moves in to avoid disputes over costly damages. This preventative measure will help assure that you are handling the security deposit fairly for both sides.
Keep records of all transactions—Keep digital records, receipts, and an organized filing system for the tenant, payroll, contractor, property, and tax-related expenses. Collect rent online for the most efficiency. Consider using a rental property management portal to collect rent and manage the property.
Transparency with Tenants—Keep the lines of communication open by encouraging questions and being accessible to solve problems. Work with your tenants to resolve disputes amicably before considering legal intervention. Have established contact hours for current tenants to report unit problems or for prospects to inquire about your property or use an online solution such as rentler.com
Practice a thorough screening process—Whether renting to a tenant or hiring someone to manage your property, carefully check their credit history, references, and background to ensure they are reliable and responsible. Use written rental and employee applications.
Be a good example to your tenants—Establish your own policy and put it in writing, including the consequences for violating any rules. More importantly, be consistent with enforcing your rules. Afford the same respect to your tenants by abiding by rental agreements, such as alerting the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering a unit. Tenants are more likely to respect you and follow the rules if they know you do.
As a property owner, you are expected to provide quality housing that is well-managed and conforms with your state’s laws for landlords and tenants. The work involved can become overwhelming, but you can do it with an arsenal of materials and tools to help you troubleshoot and organize. Uses these tips as a starting point or refresher to help you be compliant and more productive to enjoy the fruits of your labor while protecting your financial investment.
For more landlord resources, visit landlord.com.