I have been a landlord for over 25 years and I’ve learned a lot of lessons about what to do and what not to do, many of which I learned the hard way, aka making mistakes. One of the keys for me was learning how to remove the emotion from the decision. This can often be easier said than done because we are people dealing with people and many times they can have compelling circumstances.
Here are a few ways you can help if someone is really in trouble that owes you rent.
- There are many organizations that can help with a month’s rent if people need to get back on their feet.
- Create a reasonable payment plan.
- Help them move on. It could be cheaper than letting them stay and not getting your rent.
- It all starts with the rental application. Have a clear, simple but well written application. The most important information is social security number, permission to run a credit report and work history.
- It is also important to get rental history, but often people don’t want you verifying their current residency because they may not end up leaving. The one thing I try and keep in mind is that if they tell me they have been a victim of a “bad” or “unfair” landlord – there is a greater likelihood that they will view me that way no matter my policies.
- If renting to family and friends have VERY clear boundaries – but as a general policy, I won’t rent to friends or family.
- It is an easy fix sometimes to let residents do their own repairs but I would recommend against it. I’ve even had “professionals” as tenants in the past and let them do work without over seeing it. I came to find out that our tastes were different – haha.
- Always do an inspection report prior to a tenant moving in. Make sure that it is signed and documented with pictures and video. Also make sure it’s date verified – either electronically or as simple as having a newspaper in one of the photos.
- A couple of years ago I was having troubles with tenants and noise. So I created a Rental Code of Conduct. It was simple but set expectations and created penalties for violators.
- I think it’s a great idea to require your tenants to carry renters insurance and I know this is done in the major complexes. Honestly, I haven’t been very good at implementing this but it’s an excellent idea.
- I set the expectation that there will be a rental increase with each new lease. I let them know it will be small but consistent.
- Make sure that owners of the properties on either side of yours have your phone number in case there is a neighborhood issue and vice versa.
- I keep my rentals in good condition and competitively priced, which translates into good tenants.
- I try to upgrade something on my properties every year. This allows the tenants to see that I care about my asset. But be careful because that might get them thinking they can just keep asking for things.