As a new landlord, you’re excited to make a good impression on your tenants and do right where so many landlords have done wrong. Since you’ve rented apartments in the past, you know the common complaints—landlords are infamously slow to respond, address maintenance issues, or otherwise make their tenants’ lives easier.
With the bar so low, you won’t need to welcome your new tenants with welcome baskets or specialty candles. In fact, just answering your emails is a great start!
However, there are a few secrets of success that can help you find and keep reliable tenants, as well as develop a good local reputation. This will help keep your rental lucrative for years to come.
Below are our top 5 tips for landlords.
#1 Set Clear Expectations
Hopefully, you’ve consulted with a lawyer to lay out clear lease terms.
But let’s be real—have you ever read your entire lease? Your tenants probably haven’t, either.
Prior to move-in day, it’s helpful to shoot your tenants an email with a 1-page fact sheet that lays out the following information:
When they can move in and how they can get their keys
The cost of replacement keys
Their utility responsibilities, and who they should contact to set up electricity, etc.
What’s an important policy? If you schedule monthly visits from the exterminator, or you don’t respond to email on weekends, remind your tenants in case they missed this information in the fine print of the lease.
That way, you can avoid confusion and frustration in the future.
#2 Keep Lines of Communication Open
Another way to avoid frustration? Make it clear how your tenant can communicate with you (and vice versa).
State a preferred method of communication – Your tenant will have your email and phone number, but do you prefer email, text, or calls?
Set boundaries – It’s totally reasonable to ask your tenants to call only in case of emergency (as long as they have ways of getting in touch for regular questions). Likewise, ask your tenants how and when it’s okay to call and email them.
Encourage questions – Whether it’s doing a home exchange, subletting, or having a party, tenants might be uncertain about whether certain actions are allowed under their lease terms. If your tenants feel uncomfortable asking questions, they might veer on the side of secrecy. Keep lines of communication open to protect your own liability.
Don’t forget to provide plenty of notice in advance of visits or maintenance! An intrusive landlord is almost as bad as a negligent one.
#3 Get to Know Your Tenants
Hopefully, you’ve already checked out your tenants with screening reports. Beyond that, knowing a little bit about their lives can help you prepare for anything that might come up.
Try and have a general sense of their employment situation, and where they live in relationship to their family. This makes it easier to:
Ask if you can do required maintenance: “Are you going back to Nebraska for the holidays? Maybe that would be a good time to…”
Anticipate issues with rent payment. “I know the restaurant industry is struggling now. Do you anticipate any issues with September’s rent?”
#4 Make Upgrades
We’re not suggesting you deck out your rentals with luxury patio furniture and fancy appliances. However, making regular upgrades can keep your tenants happy, and improve your home equity in the process.
Some upgrades are easy to make even while you have a tenant in residence. These include new landscaping and outdoor improvements.
Your tenants may even have specific requests—whether it’s a windowed door to let in more light, built-in shelving, or a new showerhead, any upgrade that improves your tenant’s quality of life now might enable you to raise the rent a bit when they move out.
Preparing for Your Next Tenant
If you follow the tips above, you’ll keep your tenants happy and maintain your own peace-of-mind as a landlord. With any luck, you’ll be able to keep high-quality tenants for years to come. That way, you’ll avoid the hassle of listing fees, working with realtors, and screening new applicants.
Be sure to check in with your tenants well in advance of their lease renewal so you can make any required upgrades or prepare to re-list the unit.
Eventually, when it’s time for your current tenants to move on, you’ll start the process all over again. Apply the lessons you’ve learned so far to your future landlord-tenant relationships and you’ll be a fantastic landlord.
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