Here are Some Tips for First-Time Landlords
Planning to invest in your first real estate rental property? Are property management rentals the best solution for you? Well, it’s a great investment for securing an income stream, but if you’re new to wearing the landlord hat it can be overwhelming. Here are some things you should know before diving in.
Multifamily and single-family rental property is a hot market in 2019! Investors’ new multi-family construction is booming, and the opportunities for adding a property management rental income stream to your nest egg are abundant!
If you haven’t started viewing potential properties yet, or if you’ve just begun your search, make sure to investigate communities that are thoroughly promising. This is where you should begin your homework and seek professional guidance about lucrative investment communities. Once you start your search for a property, compare rent pricing and tenant vacancy rates for comparable rental properties in the area you select, which will be helpful when it comes time to determine how much you’ll be asking for your rentals.
It’s important for first-time landlords to spend a good amount of time familiarizing themselves with all that’s involved in managing tenants, and protecting the value of the property, which is a major undertaking even for experienced landlords.
Property Management Rentals Tips
Finding good tenants is perhaps the biggest challenge landlords deal with. Tenant screening can be an extremely time-consuming task, especially for newbies. There will be times that you will take all the recommended measures and do all the right things during the screening process and nonetheless end up dealing with a bad tenant. But there are some important steps you can take to find the best possible tenants overall:
- Meet tenant applicants in person
This may seem obvious, but in today’s digital world it is possible (and often tempting) to complete the entire tenant selection process online. It is in your best interest to meet face to face with each prospective tenant and walk them through the rental unit. Spending just 20-30 minutes with someone can give you a good sense of the kind of tenant they could be. Here’s your chance to observe their general demeanor, behavior, disposition, and whether they will be respectful toward other tenants in the building. Experienced landlords and property managers understand the advantages of meeting a prospective tenant and observing their appearance (are they clean and conventional, or not so much?). It’s an important opportunity to get a sense of whether they are forthcoming and receptive or if they seem evasive when asked relevant questions (such as: how many people will be living in the apartment?). As a landlord, your instinct will be an important barometer when it comes to choosing the best tenants.
- Run background checks
If you decide to enlist a property manager or property management company, they have all the tools and experience to efficiently and thoroughly handle things like background checks, employment and income verification, credit checks, contact previous landlords, and handle the in-person tenant screening process. Property management companies can even take care of lease management, rent collections, evictions when they become necessary, and other paperwork that can suck all the joy from a landlord.
- Collect a substantial deposit.
Request a deposit that will cover any damages your tenant may leave behind. An important tip is to never price the deposit at the same rate as the tenant’s monthly rent. For example, if the rent is $1,000 per month, price the deposit at $1,500 to make it clear to the tenant that the deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent. Otherwise, the tenant could leave your rental unit damaged, leaving you without deposit funds to cover any repair or cleanup costs.
- Read and make sure you follow the Fair Housing Rules.
Although these rules aren’t new, an unfamiliar first-time landlord must be sure that they are not making tenant decisions based on race, gender, sex, religion, disability, or family status. Even an unintentional breach of these rules can carry serious penalties.
Of course, you will be responsible for maintenance, including the landscaping and maintaining safe, clean common areas, stairwells, elevators, lighting, etc. If tenants experience problems within their unit, whether it’s a water leak, a clogged drain, or a malfunctioning appliance, they call the landlord or property manager even if it’s in the middle of the night.
Being a landlord doesn’t have to mean you can’t get help. In fact, trying to do it all and learn as you go may end up costing you more that you’d bargained for.
Many rental property owners enlist a property management team to take care of all these responsibilities and more. They have the training, the tools, and a command of local, state, and federal tenancy laws, tax obligations and deductions, and insurance regulations and responsibilities to keep their clients and the clients’ investment secure.
Property managers collect the rent from tenants every month, and quickly follow up with any tenants whose rent wasn’t submitted on time. When a tenant eviction becomes necessary, the property management company handles the entire process, from the courthouse filing to the day that the evicted tenant is escorted off the property.
Property managers also leverage the latest marketing tools, technology, and strategies to advertise their client’s available units and keep vacancy rates low.
Property managers handle the maintenance duties and develop regular schedules for preventative property inspections and upkeep including routine inspections that are meant to intercept small problems, such as water dripping from a pipe or cracked pavement, and fix them before they can turn into costly emergencies.
As a first-time landlord, you may want to learn more about what a property management company can do to help lighten the burden. Many property owners who rely on property management services to keep their investment properties protected and well maintained, their administrative tasks running smoothly, and to make sure they comply all legal, tax, and insurance regulations, and responsibilities.
If you are thinking of investing in property management rentals, it’s important that you take the time to fully understand what being a landlord entails. Renting any property is a major undertaking, which is why it can be so beneficial to hire a property management company to handle the day-to-day responsibilities and keep your investment running smoothly.