If you want to earn as much as you can on your Houston investment properties, it’s worthwhile to use the best property management team you can. If you encounter any of the mistakes below in the management of your portfolio, you may want to switch to a different management firm.
Public Safety Problems
Every property has its share of problems, but if you perceive an array of severe issues that don’t get swiftly resolved in your properties, that’s a serious problem.
For example, if electrical issues, drug use, child abuse, or violent behavior are happening in one of your Houston homes, they need to be handled immediately. The longer these problems go unsolved, the worse the situation will get, and you could be liable down the road.
Some of the most severe problems in rental properties your team should address right away are:
- Bad lighting
- Wet floors
- Accumulated snow and ice on sidewalks and porches
- Exposed electrical wires
- Missing or loose handrails
You shouldn’t have anyone on your property management team who doesn’t have the highest integrity. If anyone is skimming profits for himself and you find out about it, you have to deal with it as soon as possible.
The sad fact is that property management companies discover evidence of fraud from time to time. Even the best property management firms can have problems with their staff. So you have to watch for these potential problems and act fast when you catch them.
Keeping Bad Hires
Sometimes a landlord or property management company will make a bad hire. It happens, but it’s one thing to commit the initial error, and quite another if you allow it to persist without doing anything about it.
Fortunately, Texas is an at-will employment state, so firing a poor employee isn’t difficult. But you should always maintain healthy communication with your workers.
Regular reviews of their job performance will let you know whether you need to make changes before the consequences turn severe.
Poor Tenant Screening
There’s an understandable temptation to fill any vacancy in your Houston rental properties quickly. However, this doesn’t mean you should fail to screen potential tenants well.
Although it costs money to pursue background checks on potential tenants, failing to do them can cost you so much more.
Always remember that once you have a tenant screening process running, never deviate from it. It will always serve you well and prevent you from taking on tenants you shouldn’t. A bad tenant can cost you considerably more than a unit that’s vacant for one to three months.
It’s never a good idea to have water running constantly anywhere on your property. Whether it’s inside or outdoors, this is a problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible.
Ideally, you will stop the flow of water on the same day you discover it, at least, but the exact hour is best!
There was an older property in Houston with a leak that dripped water from an upstairs unit into the garage below. Plumbers investigated for months and none of them could isolate the problem.
Finally, a plumber with decades of experience found it: An old dishwasher was leaking onto a tile floor, which flowed for 50 feet before penetrating the garage!
Note the following facts about water leaks:
- Water damage is one of the most filed property insurance claims in the US.
- Water damage costs property owners about $11 billion in damages every year.
- The typical water damage claim is $5,000.
- 90% of water damage costs can be avoided with water leak detection devices or a shut-off valve.
Letting Insurance Expire
You only have to forget to renew your homeowner’s or landlord insurance policy one time … and that’s when a disaster happens. No insurance company will honor a claim if the owner didn’t pay the premium.
Go over your insurance policies every six months and set reminders, if necessary, to ensure you pay the premiums on time.
Not Handling Maintenance Calls
If you ignore people calling you for maintenance, the problems won’t go away. They will just get worse as the hours and days go by. Worse, you will burn your credibility as a landlord or property manager if you don’t address the issues for your tenants.
Some maintenance issues are more critical than others, of course: a broken toilet needs to be fixed immediately, while a faulty kitchen drawer can wait until you have a reason to visit to resolve a more pressing matter. When there are problems with the electrical, water, or HVAC systems, tackle those immediately.
Not Keeping Records
It’s essential to keep all your accounting and tax records in order. The US government may not notice for a while, but sooner or later, it will. And that could cost you everything you have.
It’s also essential to keep your maintenance records up to date. Don’t neglect to document every request you receive for maintenance from your tenants. The more you focus on maintaining good records, the fewer problems you’ll encounter later.
Vacant Units Not Available To Show
If you have empty Houston properties and none are ready to show prospective tenants, that’s like throwing hundreds of dollars per month down the commode. No matter what your excuse may be, you ought to have a vacant unit or home ready to show as soon as possible.
At the very least, you should always have at least one vacant unit in ready-to-show condition, so you’ll always have something available for prospects to view.
Dropping Credit Standards
Lowering your credit standards during the application stage will give you more occupancy. But you’re more likely to bring in a late-paying or non-paying renter. It’s better to have the unit vacant than to have to chase rent or evict someone.
If you experience any of the issues on this list with your Houston properties, you have headaches you don’t need. Many of these problems can be solved by retaining a reputable property management company to oversee your units.
If you do, you’ll avoid most of these issues in the future!