7 Resolutions to Make as a Landlord
It's time for setting goals, making changes, and generally trying to do better than you did last year. Make sure that at least a few of them focus on what you do as a landlord and property owner.
Check Your Insurance
If for any reason you’re still using the homeowner’s insurance policy you had when your rental was a primary residence, stop immediately. While nothing bad has happened (yet) don’t let your luck run out with the wrong type of insurance. There’s a good chance that a claim will be denied if you don’t have the right policy for the property.
Not only should you have a policy specific for landlords and rentals, you need to make sure you have enough coverage. Have you made big changes and renovations to the property? Have property values continued to rise? Talk to your insurance agent to make sure your policy is enough if your rental ever sustains major damage.
Get a Better Lease
Are you using the same lease you started with a few years ago? Did you get it from an office supply store? This is the year to get a lease specific to your business as a landlord, written by a legal professional, that covers the things that matter most to you.
The last thing you need is a lease that doesn’t cover the policies you’ve set for renters or protect you from the bad behavior of your tenants. At the very least you need a lease that clearly states what is and isn’t allowed, including what is cause for early termination of the lease agreement.
Screen Your Tenants More Carefully
You screen your tenants but have too many non-payers and problems have made it through your process? This is the year to tighten up and create a system that makes sure you’re renting to people who can and will pay the rent without breaking the law or causing major problems.
It’s not enough to check past rental references. Criminal background check, credit check, and other processes allow you to find the best possible tenants. Make sure you’re consistent in all your screening and that you follow the law to the letter.
Inspect and Maintain Your Rentals
If the last time you inspected a property was more than a year ago or only between tenants, it’s not enough. Make a yearly inspection part of your routine so you can properly maintain your rental. This keeps the value up, expenses down, and problems to a minimum.
Knowing your roof needs to be replaced in the next six months is less of a burden than the surprise call in the middle of the night after a storm. Having the HVAC serviced twice a year means you’re less likely to have it repaired in the middle of summer. Not only will your tenants be happy, you’ll have fewer stresses to deal with.
Fix Things When They Break
Of course, as a landlord we don’t doubt that you fix things that break but are you able to do it quickly? Do you have a vendor list you can reference to find the person or company who can get it done within your budget and on time? This year, that’s exactly what you need.
Instead of dreading the holiday or middle-of-dinner call about an appliance that has died, a burst pipe, or every other possible thing that can go wrong, you’ll have a plan. You won’t have to wonder if you can afford the fix or make your tenants wait any longer than necessary. Best of all, you’ll keep your best tenants happy and your property in good condition.
Follow Landlord/Tenant Laws to the Letter
We know you do your best to stay within the law. You don’t tell someone a property isn’t available when it is or show up to a rental unannounced. Keep not doing those things to stay out of trouble.
When in doubt, contact an attorney who specializes in and understands local, state, and federal laws regarding housing, renting, and being a landlord. Ask questions before you do anything new and make sure your lease is legal. What you don’t know could hurt you and your rental business.
Hire a Property Manager
If you’re thinking, “All of these things sound good but I don’t have time!” there’s one thing you can do that will take care of everything else. Hire a good, local property management company. Someone who has the expertise and resources to make sure you and your tenants are taken care of.
At ERA American Real Estate, we have the tools to market your property and screen potential tenants. We can make sure your lease agreement fits your requirements and hold up in court. Our job is to make sure you can be a landlord with fewer hassles and headaches and more well-qualified tenants and income. Call us today to and let us be the best new year’s resolution you’ve ever kept.