Are You A Good Landlord?

By on October 7, 2013

Transitioning to a landlord is one of the biggest adjustments an investor must make. If you have never done it before, you may think it is as easy as putting a “for rent” sign on the front yard and waiting for tenants to come running. Once you find your tenants, all you have to do is sit back and cash the rent check every month. Anyone who has every rented knows that is hardly the case. Being a landlord can be a full time job if you don’t have the right tenants. In most cases, the issue is really not with the tenants, but with the landlord. How can you tell if you are a good landlord?

It is no secret that better landlords produce better tenants. From the moment a potential tenant sees the property, you have to let them know what you expect from them and exactly what you are offering. There are many different styles and approaches to being a successful landlord. Some will take the hard line approach and follow every item to the letter of the lease. If the rent is received just one day late, they will enforce a late fee. The other approach is to error on the side of leniency. Essentially, these landlords bend the rules when they see fit. The ideal way is somewhere in the middle, but you need to have open communication with them at all times. More importantly, do what you say.

Household repairs are usually the catalyst for complaints. The new landlord may see this as an inconvenience or an unnecessary expense. A clogged toilet or a leaking refrigerator may not seem like a big deal to you, but for someone living in the house it is. The longer you make your tenant wait to have the item fixed, the more resentful they will be. It is not your tenants fault that the washing machine stopped working or the dishwasher needs fixing. These are the items that will dictate how the rest of the lease will go. You should have money put away for these instances. If you don’t, that is your fault, not your tenants.

Any parent with small children knows you have to pick and choose your battles. The same can be applied for dealing with tenants. Have your personal list of non-negotiable items, but also have some aspects you can be flexible on. If they want to put a small kiddie pool in the backyard or park a car in the garage, you may not like it, but you may also not want to make a big deal about it. Even though you have a signed lease, you still need to trust that your tenant is going to take care of your property and pay the rent every month. If you make living in your house unbearable, they may just stop paying. Now you are faced with a costly eviction process and having to find a new tenant.

As cliché as it sounds, if you take care of your tenant, they will take care of you and your property. Being a landlord is not as easy as it may sound, but it doesn’t have to be as hard either. Take care of the property when it needs fixing and communicate with your tenant. If you do, everything else should take care of itself.