Few jobs are as tough as being a landlord. You have rent to collect, tenant complaints, property upkeep, etc. It’s a job that really has the potential to run you ragged and put you in an early grave. However, there are some steps you can take to simplify your life, and make being a landlord less of a burden. Here, in no particular order, are three practices that can be implemented to make being a landlord easier:
Run a background check - Of course you probably make your tenants fill out an application - almost everyone does these days - but it pays to be thorough. If someone’s a poor risk, you don’t want them as a tenant, because once they get in it can sometimes take a minor miracle to get them out. One of the easiest ways to find out about your potential tenants is to use background checks, which are pretty common and not particularly difficult to obtain. They aren’t excessively expensive, either, but if the cost of such is an issue you can pass that along to your prospective tenant by charging it as an application fee. (However, it might be a nice gesture if you told them you’d refund the fee after they pass the background check and sign a lease.)
Get a deposit - I think this almost goes without saying, but an upfront deposit is practically a necessity. For one thing, it will give you something to offset the cost of repairs should your tenants turn out to be a demolition crew. Moreover, it evidences your prospective tenants’ ability to save and manage money, so there’s less likelihood of you having to evict them for not paying rent.
Get a home warranty - Landlords tend to take issue with this one, because it seems to take money out of their pockets - especially those with the skill to do repair work themselves. However, you can attract a better class of tenant if they know that there’s a warranty in place (i.e., they won’t have to track you down and beg you to come by to make repairs). Moreover, it will free you up to actually manage your properties as an owner rather than just a handyman. Finally, a home warranty policy will pay for itself with one or two repairs. (I discussed home warranties in greater detail in a prior article.)
In retrospect, being a landlord can sometimes feel like a miserable occupation, but there are things you can do to lighten the load. Even if a landlord implements only one of the suggested practices, it will likely make his job a whole lot easier.