Owning a rental property is often billed as an easy, passive source of income for people who want a flexible way to accumulate wealth over time. But this is a bit misleading.
By itself, rental property investing and operating as a landlord is a time-consuming and energy-depleting activity. There are ways to make it less demanding, however, if you’re willing to go the extra mile and practice certain habits and procedures.
The Appeal of Being Hands Off
You never want to be so handed off that you’re out of touch with your rental properties, but there’s an inarguable appeal to being less involved on a daily basis. Here are three specific reasons:
- Fewer frustrations. When you’re hands off, you’re involved in fewer day-to-day issues, personally. This will lower your stress level and create fewer frustrations to have to worry about.
- Less expensive. When you’re hands on, you’ll not only spend a lot of time on property management; you’re also spending a lot of money. As you become more hands off, management will typically use up less of your resources.
- Grow your portfolio. Less time spent managing one property means you have an opportunity to expand your portfolio and add others to the mix.
You’ll hope to find a balance between being too involved and not involved enough. There should be a sweet spot, and it’s generally something you achieve with experience.
Six Specific Things You Can Do
So how does one become more hands off? It sounds great in theory, but what practical steps can you take? We’ve got a few ideas for you.
1. Set Ground Rules
One of the worst aspects of being a landlord is that you’re always on call. If an emergency occurs in the middle of the night or over the weekend, you have to be able to respond.
Even if you’re lucky enough not to encounter a ton of issues, it can be mentally taxing just knowing you’re always one call away from having to dump family time or personal activities.
In an effort to cut back on some of these potential demands, set some ground rules with each tenant. Make it clear you have hours when you’re available, as well as hours when you’ll normally be unreachable (apart from serious emergencies).
2. Don’t Put Off Problems
Never put off ’til tomorrow something you can get done today. Procrastinating over an issue will usually make it worse. For example:
- It’s better to replace an old AC unit that’s likely to cease functioning within the next year or two. You’ll save time and money that would otherwise have gone toward scheduling and effecting repairs.
- Getting gutters cleaned every year will reduce the likelihood of water damaging your property.
- Replacing air filters on a steady basis will prevent your HVAC system from experiencing costly and time-consuming problems down the road.
It’s always best to deal with simple fixes as soon as possible. Never let something go too far simply because you didn’t want to deal with it in the moment. Being proactive is the name of the game.
3. Go With Low-Maintenance Landscaping
If you own a single- or multi-family property with a yard, you can save a considerable amount of time and frustration by going with low-maintenance landscaping choices. Good options include synthetic grass, hardscaping, perennial plants, and groundcovers (which reduce the need to mulch beds constantly).
4. Set Up Automated Processes
You can automate certain functions of landlording and property management. The more you can streamline such tasks and procedures, the less time you’ll have to spend handling menial duties.
Rent collection is one task that’s easy and practical to automate. A variety of cost-effective tools will handle this for you, such as Avail, ClickPay, and Cozy.co.
“As an alternative to giving your tenants access to your private banking information, these sites act as a third party between you and your tenant,” BiggerPockets explains. “While they do charge fees for their service, many of them allow you to decide who pays for the monthly fee — you, your tenant, or both.”
You can automate other items, like tenant applications, lease renewals, and annual maintenance tasks. At first, you’ll want to keep an eye on these to make sure they are definitely being handled properly. But once you feel confident that they are, you can become a little more hands off.
5. Keep These Notices on Hand
There are plenty of times when you’ll have to interact with tenants’ face to face. There will also be times when it’s fine to streamline the contact and save the time you’d waste going back and forth.
Having said that, it’s helpful to have notices on hand for situations like these:
- Opportunity for lease renewal
- Non-renewal notice
- Rent increase
- Intent to enter
- Intent to make repairs or renovations
- Late payment (or non-payment) notice
- Violation of terms
- Eviction notice
- Intent to dispose of personal property
- Transfer of ownership
Keep a folder on your computer with these documents and simply print or email them as needed. It’ll save having to draft them over and over again.
6. Hire a Property Management Company
There are some tasks you can’t just forget or automate. Somebody has to do them. If you don’t have the time or desire to do them yourself, consider hiring a professional property management company to do the heavy lifting.
It’ll cost you a nominal fee, but it will be money well spent. Not only will it save you time, but it’ll also help you stay on track in terms of meeting legal requirements.
Partner With Green Residential
It’s impossible to be truly hands off if you don’t have a property management company on your side. But if you’re like most landlords, you may be a little hesitant to hand over such critical business functions to someone else.
At Green Residential, we understand this. We take extra care to partner with our clients, so they feel comfortable and at ease. To find out more about our comprehensive property management services — or to get a free Houston property analysis — please contact us today