Many of us take time at the beginning of each year to improve ourselves by establishing new goals and directions. These resolutions often involve trying to improve our health, better ourselves through education, make better use of our time, or just spending more time with the people we care about. While many times we slide back to our old comfort zone, the effort to change and improve is part of being a responsible adult. If you are a landlord, you should also consider making some improvements.
A responsible landlord can and should look at is improving
the management of their rentals. This improvement could not only improve your bottom line, it could also improve the lives of your customers right where they spend a considerable amount of time. This can be a win-win for both you and your tenants.
Here is a list of some landlord resolutions that you might consider in an effort to improve your property, your tenant’s experience, your pride of ownership, and your pocket book.
- Make a commitment to inspect your rental both inside and out every year starting with this year. The purpose of this inspection is for the safety of your tenants and for the preservation of your property. Check smoke and CO detectors.
Are they working and in the right places? Also check the caulking condition, look for drips, leaks under sinks, roof leaks, window condition, tenant damage, evidence of pets and any damage, fencing, paint condition, and flooring condition to name the major items. An annual inspection is a real key to keeping on top of your investment and will directly affect the quality of life for your tenant.
- Order a pest/structural inspection from a licensed inspection company. I bring this up because most owners only order this inspection when they are selling. If you are holding for the long term, you should have a structural inspection every two years. Termites are common in California and they can cause a lot of damage.
- Commit to using the latest technologies to make life easier for your tenants. This includes making it possible for your tenants to pay rent online and communicate with you about repairs electronically. The repair issue can be as simple as using email, but you have to check it daily. Many property
managers employ technology that allows for online tenant payments. If you are a do it yourselfer, check online to see what you can use.
- If you own single family homes, transfer the obligation to pay for utilities to your tenant. I think the landlord should continue to pay the utility bills directly to the utility company, and sub bill the tenant to reimburse you. This will keep your costs down somewhat especially the water bill. Be careful here, if the tenant is paying for the water, they may be less likely to water the lawn even once a week. But, in the long run the tenant should be responsible for water, sewer, and garbage just like they pay their own electric and gas bills. Keep in mind that you have to honor your lease and any changes to an existing rental agreement must be served on the tenant giving them the proper notice.
- Determine annually what the actual market rent is for your rental(s). The reason to do this is to motivate you to keep the rent at or just below market so you can afford to keep your property in good condition, pay the ever increasing utility bills, and make a reasonable return on your investment. This will pay dividends over time for your tenant as well as for you. Not giving rent increases will decrease the likelihood that you will be able to hold on long term.
- Assemble a list of vendors that you trust. You should have a trusted plumber, painter, electrician, heating and air conditioning company, and a handyperson. You could ask a local property manager for some referrals or a local real estate sales office. Better to get some contacts before you have the need than to start a search while your tenant is waiting for you to send someone.
- Organize your bookkeeping and record keeping. While you are at it, make an effort to go paperless. Using something like Google Docs to store your paper online is more secure and safe.
Bob Machado is President and owner of HomePointe Property Management which is located in Sacramento, CA serving the greater Sacramento Region from three offices. He graduated from UC Berkeley “With Distinction” (1977) and has a degree in Economics. He is both a Certified Property Manager (CPM) and Master Property Manager (MPM) and HomePointe is a Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC). Bob holds a California Brokers License (00691121).
I know this is a lot do think about for a part time job. But, your competition is improving and to keep up you should be improving as well.
Bob is a founding member of the local chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), as was its’ first president (1992). In addition to local leadership, Bob is past national president of NARPM (1996-97) and served on the national board from 1992-1998. Bob is a nationally qualified and recognized speaker for the association and teaches various property management topics and has authored several property management courses.