You have a lot to do as a landlord. Properties don’t take care of themselves, and it’s your responsibility to see that your properties are in tip-top shape for your tenants. This often has you staring at an impressive number of items on your to-do list.
Thinking about your to-do list isn’t necessarily a productive activity for a landlord. In fact, it can be more stressful than helpful. Having a long list of to-dos can be overwhelming and makes it difficult to focus on any task and do it well.
At that point, it’s an appealing notion to make a list of things you should stop doing. And maybe that would be a smart thing to do.
Such a list would be composed of things you hate doing, that eat into your time, or could be better completed by someone else. When you move a few things off your to-do list, your life becomes more simple and enjoyable.
Here are four tasks you should add to your “stop-doing” list right away.
1. Maintenance and Repairs
Some landlords really enjoy attending to the maintenance on their properties. It gives them an opportunity to work with their hands and relieve some of the stress from their nine-to-five job.
But many others simply don’t have the time or expertise to do the job well. Chances are, those who have full-time commitments outside their landlord-ing duties have only the weekends to mow the lawn, clean the rain gutters, and fix that creaky door. That’s often not enough time to do a good job.
Furthermore, the repairs needed around a home can sometimes be major, and require more than an amateur landlord to get the job done right. When you have a repair that involves the electrical system or plumbing, you need someone with the expertise and knowledge to handle the problem. Your fix may only be temporary, and can even make the situation worse.
When you hire someone to handle repairs for you, don’t regard it in terms of lost money. Look at it as investment that will show even better returns down the road. When you hire someone to do a repair job the right way, it frees up your time and ensures you’re doing the best you can for your tenants.
In addition, you’ll have a properly maintained property, which will attract higher-income renters and entice your tenants to stay. “While it’s always good for tenants to be able to handle basic property upkeep on their own, offering quality repair services and support is a great way to draw tenants and keep them happy,” says a Green Residential blog post.
“Indeed, many unhappy tenants specifically cite poor upkeep and dissatisfaction with customer service as key reasons they leave a property. Using a reliable property management company like Green Residential helps to avoid this problem.”
When you look at it this way, it should be clear that you can’t afford not to have a professional handle the maintenance and repairs.
2. Trying to Screen Your Own Tenants
You might be a good judge of character, but that doesn’t mean you have the experience or resources to screen tenants properly. Well-screened tenants are essential for the success of a rental property.
There are many types of tenants you never want to encounter, including those who don’t pay the rent, who damage the property, or who engage in illegal activities inside the unit. You can avoid a lot of the headaches and hassle by screening tenants properly.
It takes experience and resources to sniff out a potential bad tenant. “There are many warning signs of problem tenants, and some may not be immediately apparent” according to an article in AllBusiness.com. “Repeat offenders are used to getting by landlords, and you can’t always rely on gut instinct or your first impression when dealing with a potential tenant.”
Instead of depending on your own skills, find a company that will handle tenant screening skillfully and without fuss. It will have the resources to send out applications, perform background and credit checks, and work through the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
3. Letting Tenants Call You 24/7
Of course you want to create a home where tenants will be comfortable and happy. That means guaranteeing a system of great communication and prompt service.
Letting tenants call you at any hour isn’t the solution, though. Unless there’s an emergency, most tenant issues can be handled during business hours. If you’re caring for a small rental unit, you’ll only need to set aside a few hours per day for office hours.
If you’re dealing with a large, multi-family complex, you may need to set aside business hours from nine to five. You don’t have to be in the office the entire time, but you can make it clear that tenants shouldn’t call you outside of that window of time for anything other than an emergency.
Brandon Turner, an experienced real estate investor and contributor to the realty site Bigger Pockets, says that setting office hours is one of the most important things you can do as a landlord. “I publicly let all my tenants know that I am only available between 10am- 4pm on weekdays,” he says.
“Of course, I have a cell phone that will ring anytime. Tenants don’t need to know that though. When they do call outside of office hours — I will always let the call go to voicemail. If it’s important — they’ll leave a message. If not — it probably wasn’t important.”
This is vital for your sanity as well as the quality of living inside your units. You’ll be a much better landlord if you’re fresh and relaxed than if you’re running to address every concern your tenants raise.
4. Only Communicating When There’s a Problem
Communication is more essential for great tenant/landlord relations than many people recognize. Although tenants don’t want you prying into their personal lives, they don’t want to be left in solitary, either. They like to know their landlord is watching out for them and the property.
However, too many landlords speak to the tenants only when they move in, when they move out, and if there’s a problem in between. Today, tenants are accustomed to regular communication, thanks to email, social media, texting, and other tech advances.
You can take advantage of that to make your tenants feel more at ease and cared for. Engaging on social media, utilizing SMS messaging, creating a monthly newsletter, communicating announcements via email, and occasionally checking in on tenants by phone or even in person are all excellent forms of communication that can lead to better trust between tenants and yourself.
Rachel Morency, head of communications at Octavia, recommends keeping communication as straightforward but engaging as possible. “Keep it simple and short wherever you can,” she says.
“Involve other residents in producing materials or vetting them before you publish; keeping some consistency in style and language across all materials; and above all, offering messages in different options is essential…. People don’t like to be told much these days — if a piece of communications is enticing or fun people find themselves drawn in without realizing it.”
Shorten Your To-Do List with Green Residential
When you’re looking to keep your schedule and tenants from suffering an overworked landlord, Green Residential can pick up some of the slack. With our expert property management team that specializes in the Katy and Houston areas, you can cross each of these items and more off your list and get back to enjoying the income from your investment.
In fact, you’re likely to see an increase in profits when you let our expert staff handle the processes we know best. For more information about how Green Residential can benefit your property, contact us today!