“7 Must-Have Tips For First Time Landlords”
So you’re here seeking tips for first time landlords because you’re about to start a rental business. You’re probably a little anxious about what you’re about to do.
That’s all right, because it’s a perfectly natural (and reasonable!) feeling.
Being a first time landlord can be intimidating. A lot of people don’t know all that it entails, and thus have only the vaguest sense of how to maintain a rental property.
For example, some believe it means just sitting back and collecting a check at the end of each month. Being a landlord can sometimes be like that, true, but not always.
Many don’t even realize all the things they need to do to keep a rental business running. They don’t understand why marketing may be involved, or what laws to look out for.
That’s why they end up overwhelmed by their first year in business. It may even get bad enough that they quit and sell their property off to someone else instead.
Fortunately for you, I’m here to deliver my 7 essential tips for first time landlords. These are the notes every property owner needs to start with before opening a rental or leasing business.
Following these tips can help you start your rental property business on the right foot. So if you’re ready to discover the essentials of success for a rental business, read on!
The Most Important Tips for First Time Landlords
Perhaps the first thing you should know about being a landlord is that you always have the option to hire a property manager. This is someone who can do most of the tasks you’d otherwise have to do yourself for your rental business.
In fact, many landlords have property managers. That allows them to evade most of the duties involved in running a rental property.
However, it does add to one of those duties. Namely, it adds to the costs of having a rental property.
If you’d rather not spend money paying a property manager, you can do the job yourself. My own advice to landlords is to at least try doing this first.
That’s because it helps you get a better handle on what’s involved in the day-to-day running of the business. That means you can better evaluate a property manager if ever you do decide to hire one later on.
That being said, let’s move on to the rest of my tips for first time landlords. These are the things you should remember as you set up your rental property business.
1) Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is the first of my tips for first time landlords. That’s because it gives you a point of contact or immediate resource to go to when you need help.
The goal is to find someone who has experience running a rental property. Ask friends or family members if any of them have ever done this.
Alternatively, you can join online forums for landlords and property managers. These are great places to ask for help if you ever find yourself with a specific problem you can’t seem to answer alone.
Getting advice from those more experienced than you is always useful. That’s why this is among my list of tips for first time landlords.
2) Prepare a Contract in Advance
The second of my tips for first time landlords is to prepare your rental or lease contracts in advance.
That’s because you don’t want to wait until the very last moment to make these. Do you want a potential tenant to wait to assume tenancy just because you haven’t finished writing the contract?
Here’s another of my tips for first time landlords related to this, by the way: assess it more than once after you’re done. The beauty of writing it in advance is that you have time to polish it to perfection.
That means you can check and re-check if you’ve left any clauses or conditions out. You can see if there’s anything you’d prefer to change before you sign it or give it to a tenant.
You can even show it to your mentor (see the previous entry in this list of tips for first time landlords) to see if they have any input.
3) Consult a Specialist in Rental Law
There are a fair number of regulations that have to be observed by a rental business owner. Between Fair Housing Laws and eviction laws, for instance, you’ll have your work cut out for you figuring them all out.
So, it only makes sense that my tips for first time landlords include getting help in this area. Specifically, I advise you to consult a lawyer who specializes in rental laws.
Ask if they can look over your contract, among other things, to see if you’ve failed to account for something. Ask them if they can help refine it for legal precision.
Ask them too if there are obligations you as the landlord have to the tenants. That way, you can be assured that you’re not shirking on your own duties by law.
That whole point of this entry in my tips for first time landlords is to keep you legally safe, after all. So ask your lawyer to keep you apprised of everything you may need to know about the laws relating to your new business.
4) Specify Preferred Contractors
At some point in your rental business, you’ll need to get repairs or modifications done to the property. Sometimes, it might even be your tenants getting these done.
Unfortunately, you can’t always be sure that whoever’s doing the repairs or modifications is competent or operates to the highest standards.
That’s why the next of my tips for first time landlords has to do with mitigating the possibility of shoddy work. The way to do that is to find preferred contractors for repairs and modifications ahead of time.
Once you’ve found ones you believe you can trust to always deliver high-quality work, state them as preferred contractors in your rental contracts.
That can help ensure the preservation of your property’s condition even far into the future.
5) Research Your Target Market
This is another of my crucial tips for first time landlords… for what should be an obvious reason.
If you know what you target market wants, you’ll find it easier to cater to their needs as a landlord. You’ll know what amenities they want, for example, from high-speed Internet to CCTV.
Furthermore, if you know what they want, you’ll know how to advertise to them. Landlords actually have to do a lot of advertising to fill up vacancies.
Without smart advertising, you won’t be able to fill up vacancies efficiently — and that means lower earnings than your property’s full potential.
That’s why knowing your target market has to be in any list of tips for first time landlords. If you don’t know your target tenants, your chances of attracting (or keeping) them becomes much poorer.
6) Use Online Advertising
I already mentioned advertising earlier in this list of tips for first time landlords. However, it actually deserves to be mentioned as one of the tips for first time landlords itself.
In particular, I advise doing online advertising. That doesn’t mean you should steer clear of traditional ads, of course — go ahead and post flyers on a community billboard advertising your unit, for example.
Rather, it just means you shouldn’t forget to try online ads too. These may even be cheaper than traditional ads.
It pays to remember too that many would-be renters also now seek vacancies on the Web. So if you want these to find your rental property, it only makes sense to advertise online.
7) Do Tenant Screening
Finally, you should do tenant screening. This is the last of my tips for first time landlords but it’s far from the least important.
Tenant screening refers to the process of doing background and credit checks on potential tenants. The goal is to separate the potentially “good” tenants from the “bad”.
Examples of the former would be potential tenants with good credit and employment histories. They should have no criminal records and no evictions in their past.
Taking on such tenants increases your chances of having a successful rental business. That’s because you can trust them to pay rent on time, observe their duties, and take care of your property.
“Bad” tenants, on the other hand, tend to have spotty histories and credit records. That makes them bad wagers for any first time landlords.
So be certain to do tenant screening before choosing the applicants to fill your vacancies. It can prevent you from encountering problems with your renters in the future.
Final Thoughts on Tips for First Time Landlords
That concludes my list of essential tips for first time landlords. If you want to start your rental business right, keep these tips for first time landlords in mind.
Here are my tips for first time landlords again, to review:
- Find a mentor.
- Prepare a contract in advance.
- Consult a specialist in rental law.
- Specify preferred contractors.
- Research your target market.
- Use online advertising.
- Do tenant screening.
With these tips for first time landlords, you’ll find yourself in the best position to build your rental property business into a successful one.
If you have questions about these tips or have your own tips for first time landlords, leave a comment below!
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