Becoming a first-time landlord is a lot like becoming a first-time parent. For starters, there is the responsibility. Sure, you don’t have to change your tenant’s diapers, make sure they eat their vegetables, or go to bed. But you will need to make sure their apartments are livable, and this can be mean early morning calls about broken pipes or making sure the snow gets plowed in the winter.
While you are the one collecting rent each month, the buck also stops with you when it comes to dealing with the inevitable slew of tenant problems that will crop up over time. This doesn’t mean that you have to lose money as here are some tips every first-time landlord can follow to protect their investment.
Keep Meticulous Records
One way that many first-time landlords can get into trouble is that they cut corners when it comes to paperwork. The reason for this is simple as many first-time landlords lack the experience to know what documents they need to have for their rental properties. As such, leases can be improperly structured and other documents such as condition reports can be incomplete or missing altogether.
While this might not sound like a big deal it can cause problems when trying to evict a tenant or even when you try to sell the property. In addition, having incomplete paperwork could give tenants the upper hand in any disputes. As such, protecting yourself starts with keeping meticulous records.
One of the potential downsides to being a landlord is the fact that you will need to constantly take care of the properties you own. Sure, you want to attract tenants who will treat your property like your own but there are times when you will be forced to roll up your sleeves and make sure maintenance and repairs are happening. If not, then you might end up paying more money down the road.
As such, you want to keep on top of everything on your property. This can be something as minor as an electrical outlet not working to making sure kitchen pipes don’t freeze during the winter months.
While this might sound like you will have to sleep with your toolkit next to you, the reality is that having a maintenance plan in place will help you to be more efficient. This plan will highlight the major systems on your property and outline the proper schedule to perform maintenance checks.
Doing so, will not only help you to find problems while they are still small, but it will give you a way to better organize your days.
Lastly, don’t try to do everything yourself. This is especially true if you are not the best with your hands. Instead, build up a stable of reliable contractors you can call on to get things done quickly and at a reasonable price.
Know Your, and Your Tennant’s, Rights
You don’t need to go to law school to be a landlord but knowing your rights as a landlord as well as your tenant’s rights will help to make sure that you don’t face costly issues down the road. In fact, not abiding by these rules can not only be costly but it can also hurt your reputation as a landlord and this might make it harder to attract good tenants.
One example of new landlords not understanding the law is when they decide to refuse tenants who need service animals from renting. In these situations, the landlord is usually thinking it is their property and they can set whatever rules they want but in most places across the country this is not the case.
As such, it pays to know the laws governing the rights of tenants to make sure that you won’t be facing hefty fines down the road.
Know Your Tenants
This is another mistake that newly-minted landlords tend to make as they often fail to properly screen prospective tenants. Largely this is because many new landlords don’t know where to begin or what questions they can ask.
Don’t let this happen to you; instead, work with a service provider who specializes in tenant background checks as this not only will help you get the information you need but get you the information in a way where you are not responsible for violating anyone’s data privacy expectations.
Don’t walk away from this article thinking that being a landlord is not for you but do take these lessons to heart as it will ensure that you don’t make costly mistakes which could sour your first-time as a landlord.