Fulfilling your role as a landlord is multi-faceted. You’re not just there to collect rent and show empty units – you’ve got to stay on top of complex tasks like maintenance, repairs, disputes, legal notices, and expenses.
When you’re stressed out by all of your responsibilities, it’s easier to drop the ball on important things like tenant communications. For instance, if your tenant hasn’t paid rent, it’s easy to get upset when a calm conversation is the better choice.
At the end of the day, the better you are at being a landlord, the more your tenants will respect you and your property. Not sure what, or how you can improve? Start with these helpful tidbits.
1. Delegate your landlord duties
If you’re getting frustrated being a landlord, the best thing you can do is delegate your tasks to a property manager. There’s nothing easy about managing rental properties, and if you’re already frustrated, you may not have the desire to keep doing all the work.
Luckily, you can hand off your responsibilities to a property manager and they’ll take care of everything. Property managers are trained to manage difficult situations, like evictions and lease amendments, and they’ll do the simple stuff like collect rent and market vacancies.
A property manager will also be on call 24/7 for emergencies, which means you’ll never again be woken up in the middle of the night by a tenant.
2. Prioritize clear communication
Clear communication involves stating your requests clearly and concisely, both in verbal conversations and in written communications. When you write up your lease agreements, that’s where you need the most clarity. Tenants rely on their lease agreement to make sure they aren’t breaking the rules.
Clear communication is also the best way to mitigate the potential for arguments over lease violations. If your tenant doesn’t think they’re violating the rules, you can ask your tenant to refer to the lease. You can also use a clear lease agreement in court if you end up getting sued.
This sounds great, but putting clear communication first is easier said than done. Not all tenants will respond to clear, strong communication. Sometimes, you can have the best communication skills in the world and still fall short of being effective.
Strong skills give you an advantage, but only when other people are willing to take your lead. That’s why it’s important to have a strong, written lease, which brings up the next point.
3. Create a strong lease
The strength of your lease determines how much recourse you have if or when a tenant needs to be held accountable. For instance, if a tenant breaks your sliding glass door, you’ll need to use their security deposit to cover the damage. If you didn’t collect a security deposit, you’ll probably be out of luck.
If you didn’t put a security deposit requirement in your lease, forget about trying to collect one after the damage has been done. You also can’t count on tenants paying for the damage out of pocket.
A strong lease will outline all of the important clauses, like how long the lease is for when rent is due, how to rent must be paid, what late fees are, your smoking policy, pet policies, how long guests can stay, and how the lease can be terminated.
If you don’t have a lease that outlines all of the important clauses, addendums, and disclosures, you risk having the courtside with your tenant in a legal dispute. Courts are extremely tenant-friendly in most states, and you don’t want a judge to rule against you simply because your tenant chooses to lie.
Talk to an attorney to have them draw up a lease for you that includes all the rules for your unit. They’ll know how to write your lease according to state and local landlord-tenant laws, which will help keep your dealings legal.
4. Give tenants a break once in a while
Collecting rent on time is important and you wouldn’t want a tenant to think they can pay late all the time. However, sometimes a situation calls for giving them a break. For instance, say you have a good tenant who has never been late with the rent in two years. If they ask for an extension to pay rent three days late, grant them the extension without charging them late fees.
Extending breaks to good tenants creates rapport between you both and shows them that you are a human being and not just a money-hungry landlord.
Effective landlords attract good tenants
If your goal is to become a wealthy investor, work on your landlord skills first, starting with communication. The more effective you are, the easier it will be to manage your properties.