Tips For New Rental Property Owners
There is a big learning curve involved with being a landlord: You won’t know all the issues that could crop up with keeping tenants happy until you’ve experienced them, and you often won’t know what could have gone better until you gain hindsight. Our top tips for first-time landlords can help you find success.
1. Spend Time and Money Marketing
When you are starting from scratch, you may think marketing is frivolous. However, money spent on marketing pays you back over time, because you can re-use great marketing materials each time you rent out the apartment. What’s more, when you’ve got great photos or video and compelling ad copy, your listing will likely attract more viewers, which means you may be able to fill that vacant unit faster.
Consider staging your apartment, hiring a professional photographer or videographer, and hiring a copywriter to generate listing copy. All of these expenses are tax-deductible, one-time costs that prove to be well worth it.
2. Screen Tenants
Screening tenants takes time, but it is beyond valuable if it prevents a deadbeat from taking residency in your apartment … a tenant you will later need to evict over failure to pay rent. Subpar tenants often scatter when informed you’ll be checking credit and references, because they know they won’t pass.
At minimum, verify that applicants are gainfully employed, earn enough money to afford your rental, and have positive references from past landlords. A credit check will provide a financial overview, but you’ll have to phone references. Decide ahead of time how you’ll screen tenants, so you can treat every applicant equally and avoid allegations of bias.
3. Anticipate Upkeep
Every property needs preventative maintenance and upkeep, yet many landlords fail to consider this, much less factor it into the rent. Smart property managers plan for property upkeep, so they can keep rental property in great condition.
Before you rent out your property, consider whether you will perform exterior maintenance (e.g., lawnmowing and hedge clipping) or build it into the lease that tenants must maintain the yard. If you decide to require that tenants perform basic maintenance, use a customizable lease to state your rules in writing. If you would rather maintain the property to your standard, set the rent high enough that you won’t have to pay out of pocket.
4. Find Reliable Contractors
Quality tradespeople aren’t easy to find. You are better off finding them before the pipes burst. Search for reliable plumbers, electricians, general handymen and landscapers so you know who to call when there’s a problem. Find reliable service pros by asking your network or checking in with your local home improvement center. Employees should be able to recommend in-demand service professionals, who frequently stop in for supplies.
Always check references and make sure service professionals are licensed and have their own insurance, so you won’t be legally liable if anything goes wrong.
To stay up to date with property management concerns and get tips for new landlords, consider becoming an American Apartment Owners Association member. You will receive low-cost landlord forms, discounts on goods and services, and educational webinars.