Published February 28, 2013
If you plan to be a landlord, you should know that owning and managing property is hard work and can be very stressful. All kinds of issues can occur, taking up your time, energy and effort, and possibly making you wish you had never become a landlord. Here are a few things rental property owners can do to ease headaches and help reduce the risk of having issues. They don’t always work, but hopefully they will be worth your while to implement and follow.
Put properties in good shape
Properties that are in good shape usually are treated better by your tenants. Everyone wants to live in a nice, clean place, and renters will probably take better care of your properties if you’ve provided them a nice place to live. Try to do the work when you first purchase the unit and it’s still vacant — upgrades when you have a tenant inside will be a major pain for all parties. Items such as newer flooring, paint, appliances, window coverings and landscaping are good bets. They’re expensive, but hopefully you’ll thank yourself for needing to make fewer repairs down the road.
Have plumbing fixtures and valves changed out
Water issues are prevalent in all properties, and they can cause the most damage and be the most time-consuming issues to resolve. If the plumbing valves, supply lines, faucets, toilets or washer/dryer hoses haven’t been changed in years, it’s probably time to do that. Make sure the main water shut-off valve works — and that your tenants know where it is — just in case. Again, these measures are costly, but you’re trading an upfront investment for lowering your risk of problems from a leak.
Be attentive and fix broken items
If something breaks, work hard to resolve it quickly. Obviously water, gas or electric items need immediate attention. Broken appliances might take a few days or a week, but the quicker the response the better the landlord-tenant relationship. Sometimes it’s hard to get to non-emergency items in an expedient manner, but do the best you can to fix the issue. Ultimately your tenants will be much happier and better tenants.
Treat your tenants with respect
All properties have “property” issues like the three above, but they also have “tenant” issues, which are a much bigger hassle and can take a lot longer to resolve. Treating your tenants with respect — and trying to resolve issues in an amicable manner instead of starting a fight — will hopefully have them return the favor toward you. As the landlord, it’s in your best interest to step up to the plate and make sure relations with your tenants stay on a good track. Your life will be a lot easier when a real issue occurs, such as a pipe breaking and flooding the unit.
These tips aren’t easy or quick, and you’re never going to succeed at all of them all the time. If you work hard to keep on top of the issues it should make your landlord life easier, more profitable and with a much higher likelihood of success.
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Leonard Baron is America’s Real Estate Professor®.His unbiased, neutral and inexpensive “Real Estate Ownership, Investment and Due Diligence 101” textbook teaches potential real estate buyers how to make smart and safe purchase decisions. He is a San Diego State University Lecturer, blogs at Zillow.com, and loves kicking the tires of a good piece of dirt! More at ProfessorBaron.com.