This is especially true for first-time landlords. If you’re preparing to become landlord for the first time in your life, here are six essential things you must know if you want to be taken seriously.
1. Dress Professionally
You’ll often hear people talk about “dressing for success,” but have you ever stopped to think about what that entails? Can you actually dress for success when you’ve never done the job before?
Business experts and fashionistas agree that you can. “Regardless of what you’ve done in the past, how much money you have in your bank account, how famous you are, or how fat you’ve become, a man in a well-tailored suit will always get treated better than some salame off the street,” says the popular columnist Mr. Mafioso.
What constitutes dressing professionally when you’re a landlord? To be honest, different occasions call for different wardrobes.
The first time you meet a new tenant, your goal should be to look professional and successful. You certainly don’t want the tenant to be better dressed than you are, otherwise you’ll risk giving him or her a subconscious point of leverage.
Wear a nice pair of slacks and a shirt with a collar. This casual yet professional look will tell the tenant that you take pride in who you are, but aren’t uptight or pretentious.
If you ever have to come over to one of your properties to address a maintenance issue or collect rent, try not show up looking sloppy and disheveled. You don’t have to dress up, but throwing on a clean set of T-shirt and shorts reinforces the notion that you care for yourself, and therefore you probably care about your properties.
2. Get a Sleek Website and Email Address
As a landlord, you will benefit from developing a solid website. Not only does this enhance your visibility and professionalism, but it gives tenants a place to go to review their lease, find answers to frequently asked questions, schedule service calls, and perform other routine tasks.
Something as simple as YourFullNameProperties.com works. It doesn’t have to be anything sophisticated. Your goal is simply to raise your online visibility.
As a landlord, you may be having to communicate with your tenants on a regular basis. This could include phone, text message, email, and snail mail.
When it comes to email, you want to make sure you’re taken seriously. That means ditching your [email protected] address and getting a professional email that has a domain-specific address.
Something like [email protected] will be fine.
3. Be Careful About How You Communicate
The way you communicate with your tenants and peers can say a lot about you as a professional. For example, when you’re texting, it’s never appropriate to use “U R” instead of “You are.” When answering your phone, greet people with “This is John, how can I help you,” not “Yo!”
How you communicate, the grammar and spelling you use, the vocabulary you choose, and the body language you display all say a lot about who you are. Whether it’s on the phone or in person, pay close attention to how you’re communicating at all times.
As your parents probably told you when you were growing up, you never know who’s watching.
4. Never Let Your Emotions Dictate Your Actions
As a landlord, you’re going to encounter situations that try your patience. Tenants will do stupid things, expensive appliances will break, neighbors will complain, and so on.
Anytime something happens, it’s important for you to take a deep breath and carefully consider how to react. If you let emotions dictate your actions, you may end up driving away clients and potential partners.
Don’t confuse this with being a pushover, however. There are times when you need to be aggressive and take a firm stand against negative behavior. In these cases, it’s okay to show emotion. You just don’t want your emotions to be dictated by knee-jerk behavior.
5. Always be Punctual
“If you tell someone that you will meet them at a certain time, you have essentially made them a promise,” writes Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness. “And if you say you’ll be there at 8:00, and yet arrive at 8:15, you have essentially broken that promise. Being on time shows others that you are a man of your word.”
It doesn’t matter what the situation is, you need to show up on time. Being punctual tells people you respect their time and are worthy of their trust.
6. Demand Rent on Time
The ultimate sign that you’re respected as a landlord is that you receive your rent on time each and every month. If tenants are days or weeks late, it’s evident that they have little respect for your authority.
So how can you demand rent on time? There are a few strategies.
The easiest way to ensure you get paid on the first of the month is to require tenants to set up an auto-pay or auto-deduct system. This eliminates the tenant’s ability to claim he or she “forgot” to pay and keeps you from having to chase down elusive checks.
You should also strictly reinforce your rent collection policy. If you let tenants pay late once, they’ll likely take advantage of you and do it again later.
Your lease should clearly outline the penalties for late payments, as well as the consequences for such issues as bounced checks. It’s easy to feel sorry for tenants, but you have to remember that this is your money and you can’t afford to give people leverage.
Contact Green Residential Today
At Green Residential, we understand that being a first-time landlord can be overwhelming, frustrating, and time-consuming. Tenants aren’t always the easiest people in the world to deal with, and it’s vital that you command respect from everyone you interact with.
If you’re looking for a qualified and experienced partner to join you and handle some or all of your duties and responsibilities as a landlord, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’ve been in the property management business for 30-plus years and know how to handle all issues, big and small.
With our expertise behind you, all you’ll have to do is focus on making smart choices and presenting yourself in a professional manner.