Wouldn’t it be nice if your rental property ran a little smoother? The goal of any landlord is to manage their property with as few headaches as possible. As most successful landlords will tell you there is always something you can do that will make your life easier. From asking for tenant feedback to updating pictures and videos a landlords work never ends. By handling these items before you need to rather than when they are required you are one step ahead of the game. The smoother the transition is from lease to lease the more time you have to focus on finding additional rental properties. Here are five hacks that will help improve your rental property management.
- Get Data From Applicants/Tenants. There is valuable data you can acquire from everybody that enters your property. Start by reaching out to any applicant that turned down your rental. Most applicants will be open to answering a few questions about the property or the process. Doing this will give you an idea of whether or not you need to lower the price or improve the presentation of the property. They will tell you if the timing of the lease is wrong or there is something that needs to be changed. Hearing feedback should help make improvements the next time you have a vacancy. The same is the case with current or previous tenants. You should ask that they are as open and honest with you as possible. This means you have to have thick enough skin to accept any criticisms they will throw at you. Subtle changes in your management or with the property can produce happier tenants which take better care of the property and want to stay as long as possible.
- Produce Pictures And Videos On Demand. One of the most time consuming and frustrating aspects of being a landlord is dealing with the end of the lease. Not only do you need to juggle items with your existing tenants but you need to focus on finding new ones. Instead of physically driving to your rental whenever someone has interest you should have a video tour and pictures available. The best time to do this is in the day or two window you have from the end of the lease and the start of the new one. You don’t want to have a video with your tenants mess all over the house. You are better off waiting until they are out. The same is the case with any pictures. Most prospective tenants will ask for pictures or a video before requesting to see the property. Not only does this save you from driving to and from the property but the tenants that do show interest are much more serious about moving forward. You can use this same video as long as there are no changes in the property. Spending an hour or so at the end of the lease will save you hours of time in the future.
- Document Everything. At some point in almost every lease there will be a dispute. Most of these disputes are minor in nature but they still need to be dealt with. You always want to avoid situations where it is your word against your tenants. The best way to avoid this is by documenting everything. Instead of having conversations on your personal cell phone you should utilize google voice. This will help you track all incoming and outgoing calls in addition to text and voicemail. Even if you decide to use a personal cellphone you should use text messaging. The same is the case with email. Any significant changes or complaints should be done in a manner where you can record the exchange. That way everything is documented and there is no disputing the situation. If you do have face to face conversations at the property you should write them down as soon as you get in the car and send an email recap. The more documentation you have the easier disputes are to deal with.
- Hire A Property Manager. If you have been managing the property yourself you should strongly consider a property manager. Most landlords cite limited cash flow as the reason they self-manage the property. As important as cash flow is if you are barely breaking even you need a property manager more than you think. On properties like this you devote far too much time and attention. Instead of looking for other deals or building your business you are stuck dealing with tenants, finding handymen and working through complaints. A property manager will eat away at your cash flow but will also free up time so you can earn it back on other properties. Just because you can manage the property doesn’t always mean it is the best idea.
- Set Firm Guidelines From The Start. You should do most of the work with your tenant before they spend a night in the property. As painful as it may be you need to allocate an hour or two going over the lease line by line. Make it perfectly clear what is allowed and what isn’t. You also need to define the penalty for breaking the rules. The first month they are late on the mortgage send them a request for the late fee. The $25 or $50 fee is not as important as the message it sends that they cannot do whatever they want during the lease. By setting firm guidelines right from the start you reduce the chances of future problems.
The best landlords are the ones that run their property like a business. They are constantly looking for ways to make things easier and more efficient. Use these five hacks to improve the management on your rental property.