1. Your Property Should Run Like a Business. Landlords often do a terrible job at running their business. For many it is a side gig, or a hobby more than a business and it definitely shows. Give it the respect it deserves. Apply some simple systems and organization to it. These are things you would do with any other business venture. So why not your property? Do you have contingencies in place so maintenance issues can be resolved without your direct involvement? What about if you are out of town, what happens then? If you shift your view as a landlord to that of a business owner you will find far greater success.
2. Treat Your Tenants With Respect. You aren’t guaranteed to like your tenants. In fact, you aren’t even required to like your tenants. However, do not allow personal feelings to get in the way of business at any level. Tenants want to be seen and treated as equal. Mainly because they are. So don’t forget it. Owning a rental property does not make you a better person than a tenant. Try leave those notions behind when dealing with your tenants. Treat each tenant with dignity and respect.
3. Stop Short of Being Too Nice. Following on from Number 2 a little. If a tenant sees you as being too nice that is a trait they will exploit over and over again. The result usually ends up with you having lost massive amounts of money. If your lease says rent is due on the first, expect your tenants to oblige. Allowing them to break the rules once opens the door for potentially years of struggle where you never regain control and are constantly in a one-sided state of compromise with them. There is a difference between being fair and being too nice.
4. Never Discriminate but Always Screen. The biggest error a landlord can make is letting in the wrong person. Late rents, evictions, damages and trashed homes. You wouldn’t walk in to a car dealer and get a zero percent car loan if they knew you didn’t have any income and a deathly low credit score. So why would you rent to someone in the same boat? At the very least, check their credit, but preferably take the extra steps to ensure they are not felons, have no recent evictions and are gainfully employed. Always remember the protected classes while you do all of this. You’re a landlord, you don’t see things like color or background or religious beliefs etc.
5. Never be Afraid to Ask Questions and Get Help. I have been in property management for 16 years now and I still feel like I learn something new every day. I’ve learned to stop being surprised when the crazy happens because there is always a crazier around the corner. Get opinions. Ask Questions. It could be a number for a service vendor, help with an eviction issue, or just general advice about what to do next in a situation, reach out to other landlords for help. I personally love to talk to other property managers about this stuff. I know most others feel the same. Both parties to the conversation always walk away smarter than they were before we started it too.