Becoming a landlord can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it can also be incredibly complex. Many people become accidental landlords when they end up with a property they cannot occupy. Others choose to become a landlord as a part-time job or for retirement income. Still others want to make a profession of being a landlord. Either way, there are a few things that new landlords should consider when looking for rental property management.
Rental Property Management Tips
Get Your Legal Documents In Order First
Before you even think about becoming a landlord, you should iron out any of the legal issues associated with rental property management. First, get a lease drawn up by an attorney. While you can download forms online, you will have absolutely no guarantee that these leasing documents will be applicable to your home or apartment, state, or city. Even worse, the documents may not be legally binding. You will save yourself a significant amount of headache later on by getting your rental property management documents composed by a lawyer at the outset.
Learn the Landlord-Tenant Code Inside Out
Every state has a Landlord-Tenant Code; a sort of guide book that outlines everything there is to know about rental property management. This book will be your guide throughout the process of becoming a landlord. It tells you what your rights are and what your rights aren’t. A few things you will find in your Landlord-Tenant Code include:
What remedies you have to evict a tenant who is not paying rent.
How much notice you need to give a tenant before you inspect a unit.
When your tenant can legally withhold rent from you.
Which repairs are absolutely necessary within a home.
Without knowing your Landlord-Tenant Code, you could quickly land in legal hot water without even realizing that you were doing anything wrong. As an example: did you know that you are required by law in most states to keep a prior tenant’s possessions for a certain amount of time — even if they abandoned them?
Get Everything — Everything — In Writing
People, unfortunately, will lie and some people simply won’t remember things that they or you said. If you don’t get things in writing, you’ll have absolutely no way of proving it in court — should it come down to that. E-mails alone can be sufficient but a written letter is always best when it comes to rental property management. Don’t make any agreements over the phone; or, if you do, immediately follow up the conversation with a written note that goes over and clarifies the agreement.
Finding the Right Tenant Is Extremely Important
The right tenant will make your life a lot easier while the wrong tenant will very likely destroy both your property and your pocketbook. It’s worth it to invest the time in finding the right tenant. To that end, you can complete background checks, credit checks, and reference checks… but that alone isn’t always enough to help. Finding the right tenants is one of the reasons that many people turn to rental property management companies rather than attempting to find tenants on their own. Rental property management companies are extremely experienced in finding consistent tenants.
If all of this sounds a little complex, you may want to consider hiring a rental property management company instead. Though many landlords can handle the process of rental property management on their own, it is extremely time-consuming and a single misstep may consume a large percentage of your profits. A company that specializes in rental property management will take a fee, but it’s usually a fairly insignificant fee when the scope of their services are considered.
Wondering what types of rental properties are in the Bellingham Market? See our list of houses for rent.