Being a landlord can be a great way to earn a side income, or even be your entire salary. Depending on the size and number of the buildings you lease, you could landlord for a living--but you might be wondering if you want to. Dozens or hundreds of tenants sound like a hair-pulling experience, and you might be daunted by the idea of dealing with them. In reality, being a landlord doesn’t have to be crazy, or even difficult. Just follow these simple tips for success.
Have the Right Leases
Landlording is a lot less of a hassle if you make plans around your leases. Try to keep the majority of your leases expiring at good move-in, move-out times, like late spring or early summer. The market is highest then, so try to keep your departing tenants in sync with your arrivals. Keep an eye on the market, and adjust your rent accordingly. You may even want to vary it depending on the time of year. Make sure you have a lawyer review your lease, to make sure it’s legal and fair to both parties (and that it doesn’t contain any weird loopholes). Get everything in writing. From everyone. Even your cousin.
Have (and Keep) Good Tenants
You want your building to be full of good people. A good first step in this process is to screen anybody coming in by using a service. Once you know you’ve got good people (and not axe murderers) on your hands, encourage them to sign a lease. Remember that you can’t discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status. Once you’ve got your tenants, try to keep them. Keep your tenants happy by fixing repairs promptly, keeping the building in good condition, and treating them with courtesy. You can even send a “thank-you” for timely or advance rent payments in the form of gift cards.
It’s also important, when it comes to keeping your hair, to maintaining good boundaries between you and work. You can’t be available 24/7 without being run ragged, because problems will spring up at any time. Hire a maintenance professional to watch over your building, and leave him or her in charge of emergency issues while you’re on vacation. Set your office hours. Make it clear when you can be reached, and when you can’t. Don’t check those emails. If you want, keep a separate phone for landlord problems. That way, when it’s off, it’s off. Take your breaks. And--forget what we said earlier about that cousin. Don’t rent to him at all. Don’t put yourself in the position of having to turn out friends or family. Keeping clear boundaries as you landlord is one of the biggest factors in your success.