As any buy and hold investor will tell you, better tenants make for an easier rental property experience. The key to finding good tenants is being a good landlord. Being a good landlord, however, means running your respective properties with efficiency.
There are a number of things you need to do with every lease that will keep your rental running smoothly. The minute you become lazy or lackadaisical, your rental portfolio will suffer. The best businesses take constant inventory of where they are and have defined systems in place. As a landlord or property manager, you should take this same approach. To ensure your rental portfolio runs efficiently, we suggest you take the following steps:
1. Focus on good tenants: They say that the heart of any successful business is the employees. Finding motivated employees that have a passion for what they do strengthens the business. The heart of a successful rental property is the tenants. You can have the best property in the area, but if the tenants are not a good fit, it will be reflected in your bottom line. While nothing you do can ever guarantee good tenants, there are steps you should take.
This starts with the most basic thing you can do: screen your tenants. If you are not running an application, calling references and doing your due diligence, you have no control over who you rent to. All it takes is one bad tenant to ruin your rental property. You need a tenant that will pay on time and take care of your property. These two elements are obvious, and sound easy enough. However, many tenants fail in these areas. You can get a pretty good idea of your prospective tenant from an application. Past landlords and current employers paint a good picture of what type of tenants they will be. Without taking these basic steps, you are left to hope that your tenant holds up their end of the bargain. Unfortunately, it takes more than hope.
2. Handle issues when they arise: As a landlord, you need to be able and willing to take immediate action when you need to. If something needs to be repaired or replaced, it is up to you to handle it quickly. The longer you wait, the less confidence your tenant will have in you. Instead of telling their guests to be careful in your house, they let them do as they please. You run the risk of neglecting them to the point that they start to neglect you. This could mean the rent comes in later and later every month until one day it stops coming altogether. Dealing with things in your property shouldn’t be viewed as an inconvenience or a hassle. Something may seem minor to you, but it could be a huge deal to your tenant. The quicker you take care of it, the more likely your tenant will remember and treat your property like their own.
3. Make policies and stick to them: Employees have a way of pushing the limits of what they are allowed to do. Most do not act until they are faced with a deadline. If they know the consequences of their actions, they are less inclined to break the rules. The same is the case with your tenants. One of the most important things you can do with new tenants is explain rules, guidelines and expectations before they move in. It is a waste of time telling them about a late fee if you do not enforce it. You can be flexible with making your policies, but you need to be strict while enforcing them. If you have a no smoking policy, you can’t bend it once they sign the lease. If they know that they can do something once without penalty, they will certainly do it again. Letting things slide has a long term impact on your property. You can be fair and understanding, but only to a point. A business owner would not let their employees do what they please. You cannot let your tenants act without repercussion.
4. Appearance matters: A successful business can operate out of almost any space. The size is not nearly as important as the appearance. The same can be said about your rental property. Everyone likes to live in a house with more space, but if the appearance is nice it more than makes up for it. The quality of the property has a direct impact on the tenants you bring in. If the house is dated and needs upgrades, your tenants will reflect this. You can run your property any way you think is most profitable, but know that how the property looks is important. It is important to make subtle upgrades that not only improve quality, but bring better tenants.
Good businesses stay on top of accounting, marketing and the feedback they receive. Good landlords know this too. Don’t treat your rental properties like a hobby or something you are forced to deal with. Treat it like a business and you will get better results.