You’ve likely heard that real estate investing is one of the easiest ways to become a millionaire. And it’s partially true; real estate prices tend to slowly rise over time (at least in valuable areas), and in the meantime, you’ll be able to collect rent checks from your tenants. However, there are hidden costs to being a landlord that make the job less appealing; you’ll be footing the bill for ongoing maintenance, repairs, and renovations, but even more important, you’ll be spending much of your time managing the property you’ve bought.
Being a landlord is anything but hands-free, but exactly how many hours a week can landlords generally count on working? Is it compatible with a full-time job?
Let’s take a look at the major things a landlord is responsible for, and how many hours per week, per property, they may take:
- Finding property to purchase. For starters, you’ll need to search for and find a property that’s worth investing in. You’ll need to find something that’s appealing to potential tenants, relatively low-maintenance, and in a neighborhood that’s on an upswing so you can cash the property in for a profit when it’s time to sell. Finding all those things in one property can take a while, even if you’re looking diligently. The flip side is that you’ll only have to go through this process once for each property in your portfolio.
- Repairing and/or renovating the property for new tenants. When you first purchase the property, or when one of your tenants leaves, you’ll need to step in and repair anything that might have been damaged. The walls might need repainting, the carpet may need cleaning or replacement, and entire structural components may need to be changed (both to make the place habitable and to make it more appealing for potential tenants). The variance here can be astounding, depending on how much of the work you’re doing yourself, and how many repairs need to be done.
- Creating and managing lease agreements. You’ll need to create a lease agreement for you and your tenants. Fortunately, you have two major advantages here. First, you’ll have access to templates and examples of landlords who have come before you, and second, once you create a standard agreement, you won’t have to do much else to it. This should only take a few hours at most.
- Advertising the property and screening tenants. When a tenant leaves, you’ll need to spend serious time advertising your property—and screening the potential tenants who apply. Advertising will take several hours of time to put together, and the tenant screening process may be involved, depending on how many people apply and how long it takes to find a tenant who matches your criteria. Overall, the amount of time this process takes will depend on how much rent you’re charging (compared to your competitors), how picky you are with tenants, and how much you’re willing to spend on advertising.
- Repairing and maintaining the property as needed. As a landlord, you’re responsible for keeping the property in good shape. If something goes wrong (and it’s not the tenant’s fault), such as a roof leaking or a provided appliance breaking, you’re responsible for repairing it as quickly as possible. You may also be responsible for things like maintaining the yard, or certain sections of the house. Depending on the property, this may take a few hours a week, with more if you’re handling an incident.
- Responding to tenant complaints and/or following up with tenants. You’ll also need to spare a few hours here and there to respond to tenant complaints, such as noise issues from other tenants, or follow up with tenants who haven’t paid their rent on time (or who aren’t fulfilling their other responsibilities).
- Inspecting properties for damage and necessary repairs. When a tenant leaves, you’ll also need to allocate a few hours to inspecting the property for potential damage (enlist the help of a pro here, so you catch everything) and make any necessary repairs or improvements before allowing any other tenants into your property.
As you can see, most of the hours of work you’ll spend as a landlord are temporary, occasional, or one-time necessities. In a given week, you may spend zero hours fulfilling your landlord responsibilities, or you may be at your property constantly, trying to get it in shape for a new tenant.
Of course, no two landlords are going to work the same number of hours per week. Your responsibilities are going to vary based on the nature of your property, the number of properties you’re managing, the type of tenants you’re renting to, and your personal stake in the game. If you want to minimize the number of hours you spend every week:
- Pick the right property. Choosing a low-maintenance property is a good way to minimize the time you spend on repairs and maintenance (not to mention, it will help you find and keep better tenants).
- Choose the right tenants. When you have a vacancy, your instinct will tell you to fill it as fast as possible, but it’s usually better to take your time and choose the right tenants to fill those positions. Low-maintenance tenants will save you lots of headaches.
- Be proactive. If you know something needs to be repaired, do it as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the worse it’s going to get. The same is true of addressing tenant complaints and listing your vacant property on the market.
- Get help. Sometimes, it’s just too much for one person to handle. Don’t be afraid to enlist help elsewhere if you need it.
If you’re interested in becoming a landlord to secure a steady source of monthly revenue, but you don’t want to spend countless hours doing the grunt work, consider enlisting the help of a property management service like Green Residential. We’ll do almost all the work for you, so you can sit back and collect rent payments from your real estate investment. Contact us today to learn how!