Being a landlord often has a steep learning curve, and there are so many small things to learn! Luckily, we've compiled some of our tried-and-true tips. They will help you get started with your landlord work in Windermere—and avoid many common pitfalls of the industry when first getting started.
1. Establish Professional Boundaries with Tenants
When you get your first tenants, (or your fifth, or fiftieth) it can be tempting to engage with them socially, especially if you have a lot in common. Being friends with a tenant may indeed go well at first. However, most landlords learn that having a warm, kind, but professional relationship is a far better idea. Your tenants need to respect you if you want them to abide by the boundaries you've set up in your lease. For instance, a rental that doesn't allow any form of smoking may be compromised by "nice" tenants who think you are too laid-back to care if they smoke indoors.
If you end up friends with tenants who cannot or do not pay their agreed-upon rent, you'll face lost income or eviction proceedings against your new friends. It's best not to add "friends" to this potentially tricky mix; a professional attitude that keeps boundaries in place helps you to keep your business going strong. Remember: your investment property is a business!
2. Modify Your Lease to Your Needs
Downloading a lease from the internet—especially if you don't understand the legal jargon involved—can land you in hot water down the road. For instance, a dispute with a tenant may resolve in their favor if your lease didn't spell out your guidance on the matter. Instead, work with an attorney or your property management company to tailor a lease.
- Your lease should specify all the rules and expectations you have as a landlord.
- Your lease should also include and clearly define what will happen if any of those areas are violated.
This situation isn't about coming down hard on tenants. Instead, it's about helping tenants feel comfortable that they know all the rules up front—and won't be surprised along the way.
3. Set Your Rental Rate with Care
Choosing a rental rate too quickly may be tempting, but resist! There are many factors to consider. You are likely to have more applications—and thus more tenants—if you price your Windermere rental property appropriately. Consider things like:
- Are there many vacant properties for rent in your area?
- Is your property more luxurious or extensive than other properties in the area?
- Does your property offer any specific valuable additions?
- Have upgrades been made to your property?
- What are similar properties renting for these days?
Once you know these pieces of information, resist the two pulling impulses. Don't price your property ultra-low to get a quick tenant. Sometimes, you'll get tenants who don't value the property very highly. You also get many qualified tenants who will wonder if something is wrong with the property because the price is out of sync with the market. On the other hand, don't overvalue your property, either! Too few people may apply for your property—or they may not apply at all—creating a longer-term vacancy than you want. By putting a reasonable value on the property, you make it easier to find well-suited tenants.
4. Screen Tenants Legally and Thoroughly
Tenants that are the right fit are fundamental: tenant screening can save you so many headaches down the road! By consulting the information you can legally obtain, like credit checks, you can compare tenants on the news that matters. This information includes past late payments or missing rent payments, landlord references, and other factors that are related to their behaviors as renters. You should avoid seeking information that would create discrimination. By reviewing carefully at the beginning, you can choose a tenant who is most likely to have a successful stay in your rental—and hopefully become a long-term tenant.
Too Much to Manage? Hire a Professional Property Manager!
Doing all landlord tasks well takes time and effort. Often, a lot of experience accompanied by trial and error are necessary when you manage your rental alone. You can certainly take on those tasks, seizing the day with the tips and tricks above. However, if you want to circumvent the need for trial and error, a property management company might be the right fit for you! We've learned these tips through hard-won experience. We create our systems for things like tenant screening and professional boundaries based on knowledge of what works best and provides the highest value to landlords and tenants alike.
Verandah Properties is ready to handle the tough landlord challenges you've encountered already. We will partner with you to face anything that comes your way in the future. This is why we offer our owner-partners Landlord Protection Insurance to cover the unthinkable. At Verandah Properties, we always have your back: day or night, year-round. We know that being a landlord is a job that spans every season. This is why we offer landlords like you our free Seasonal Maintenance Checklist! Like the tips above, it's designed to help your Windermere rental property operate at maximum efficiency.