The life of a landlord is unique. No two days look the same, and the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. The more properties you add to your portfolio, the more challenges you’re apt to face.
And while the money is certainly good, you won’t last long in this industry if you don’t have creative systems in place to handle the issues you’ll be handling on a regular basis. Developing such processes takes time; what better moment to start than now?
Try These Six Hacks to Save Time, Money, and Sanity
The term “hack” has gotten a bad rap of late, but it’s just a word used to describe a shortcut or clever process that saves resources and enables you to complete a challenge you’re facing with speed. If you’re a landlord, the following hacks will come in handy over and over again.
Stash them away in your mind and you’ll be much better prepared for whatever comes your way.
1. Spend Less Time With Paint
Painting is one of those things your properties will require every so often, but it doesn’t have to be a total pain in the rear. Here are some tips for remembering colors:
- Write the name of the paint color on the inside of your wall switch plates. You’ll have to remove these when you paint anyway, and this ensures you don’t misplace this crucial information.
- Another option is to write the paint color on the top of the lease agreement. This is especially worthwhile if you offer your renters the option to paint the unit their own At the end of the lease, you just tell them the name of the original color and they can restore it.
- In order to speed up the process, keep the walls, trim, and ceiling all the same color. This will enable you to spend more time painting and less time taping. (It also gives you the option of hiring a painter to spray the room, rather than roll it, which is much cheaper).
2. Use the Same Materials
If you have many properties, use the same materials for all of them. Maintaining consistent flooring, carpeting, paint colors, backsplashes, cabinets, and bathroom hardware allows you to purchase items in bulk and save the time and hassle of having to search constantly for new materials.
It also helps with regular maintenance. If you have a handyman, it’s a lot easier to explain what you want on one property and have him repeat the same steps in all your other units. Consistency is the name of the game.
3. Use In-Store Pickup at Your Favorite Big Box Store
Maintenance tasks never end for a landlord. You’ll occasionally have big jobs, of course, but it’s generally the small items that add up.
For example, you might have to replace light bulbs in one unit, fix a toilet flapper in another, and change air filters in a third. You can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and grab all of these items, but why not save time by doing in-store pickup order?
With online pickup at your favorite big box store, you simply go online, add the items you want to your cart, and select in-store pickup. It typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and they’ll have all your items waiting in a shopping cart at the front of the store.
All you have to do is drive in, pay, load up, and you’re on your way. It’s a huge time-saver!
4. Call a Prospective Tenant’s Previous Landlord
You can do all kinds of tenant screening on an applicant and still not learn much. Background checks and credit reports reveal a limited amount.
The quickest way to find out whether or not a tenant is worth accepting is to speak with previous landlords. Most are going to shoot straight with other landlords.
If the tenant was terrible, they’ll give you a warning. If the tenant was good, they’ll probably encourage you to accept the applicant. This can be a huge relief.
5. Take Advantage of the Right Apps
“Use those portable scanners that can quickly take receipts, leases, invoices, checks, etc. and turn them into digital docs,” landlord Brandon Turner writes. “Use tracking mileage apps, the flashlight app, and a VoIP service — so voicemails can be delivered as files to your email inbox.”
Your smartphone is essentially a productivity tool. Spend some time reading up on the top apps for landlords and download them to your phone. They can save you a lot of time and effort by automating basic tasks you tend to do over and over.
6. Do Small Things for Your Tenants
A lot of landlords struggle with tenant retention. They complain that their renters consistently leave at the end of their lease, which is costly. But these same landlords probably couldn’t name anything they do actively to encourage tenants to stay on.
There isn’t any one thing you can do to keep tenants. The key is more about how you treat them over the course of the entire lease. Our best advice is to do small things with consistency. For example:
- Send tenants a $5 Starbucks card on their birthday.
- On the anniversary of a tenant’s lease, offer people a choice of one of two basic upgrades. (Make them upgrades you would do anyway after renters move out.)
- Occasionally stop by and have a conversation about something other than the property. This helps to build a solid relationship.
Work With Green Residential
Trying to manage your rental properties on your own is a huge challenge. It might be possible when you have just one or two places, but trying to manage a larger portfolio while handling other professional obligations can be much more difficult.
At Green Residential, we actively work to make our clients’ lives better by offering expertise and assistance in such areas as tenant screening, rent collection, property marketing, maintenance and repairs, accounting, and even evictions.
If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact us today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free Houston property management analysis.