5 Must-Know Tips for First-Time Landlords

Being a landlord is a lot more than collecting rent every month and cashing in the checks. It takes a lot of work to be a good landlord that tenants respect and will continue renting from beyond their initial lease agreement.

If you're a first-time landlord, it's important to know exactly what it takes to be a great property owner. Not only will your tenants appreciate you more, but you'll have fewer vacancies and can potentially earn a lot more money from your rental properties.

Keep reading for five must-know tips to become a great landlord and property owner.

1. Screen Tenants Thoroughly

If you want to make your job as a landlord infinitely easier, you need to find tenants that always pay rent and will take care of your property. That's why screening tenants thoroughly is so important. If you don't, you can end up with tenants that don't pay rent and completely trash your property, adding to your long list of things to take care of.

When you screen tenants, you should do a background check, credit check, and application that includes things like pay stubs and past rent experiences. You can contact potential tenants' previous landlords and ask if they paid rent on-time and were responsible renters.

2. Require a Pet Deposit or Pet Fee

Pets, especially cats, can do a lot of damage to your property. Cats will tear up the carpet at the very least, and dogs can leave a bad smell in rooms that require a thorough (and expensive) carpet cleaning.

If you want to accept tenants with pets, you should ask for either a pet deposit or a monthly pet fee or "pet rent" to cover any potential damages to your property.

If you are renting out a furnished property, you should consider a "no pets" rule unless you want your couches completely torn up by the time your tenants move out.

3. Understand the Fair Housing Act

If you're a new landlord, it's important to educate yourself on the Fair Housing Act to avoid getting into legal trouble. 

The Fair Housing Act protects people from being discriminated against based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, marital status, familial status, or physical or mental disability. 

Prohibited actions by landlords or property managers based on these protected classes include:

  • Refusal to rent housing
  • Refusal to negotiate for housing
  • Set different terms or privileges for rental
  • Deny a tenant a service animal based on a "no pet" policy
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Advertise to a specific group of people

As a new landlord, you need to be very familiar and comfortable with everything that comes along with the Fair Housing Act to avoid any issues moving forward.

4. Create an Airtight Lease Agreement 

Creating a lease agreement is not something you just do on a whim without taking the time to ensure you and your property are completely protected. Your lease agreement needs to be airtight and clearly lay out what you expect from the tenants, and what the tenant can expect from you as the landlord. 

You should work with a property management company to create an airtight lease agreement because they have a lot more experience and know exactly how to put together an agreement. Property management companies work with attorneys to ensure lease agreements comply with housing laws and cover everything that's necessary for an agreement.

By working with a property management team, you won't be putting this very important task up to chance and can rest assured you have an airtight lease for your prospective tenants.

5. Keep Up with Maintenance and Repairs

Do you want to reduce tenant turnover and ensure your tenants are happy renting your property? Then you need to take care of any maintenance or repair requests in a timely manner. 

Whether you go to the property to make repairs yourself, or you hire contractors to do the work for you, it needs to be done right away so your tenants know you're holding up your end of the agreement. 

Are You a First-Time Landlord?

If you're a first-time landlord, you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all of your duties and responsibilities. But if you follow these tips, you can be a great landlord for your tenants.

Here at Professional Real Estate Management, we can help you with your landlord duties including creating an airtight lease, finding quality tenants, repairs and maintenance, collecting rent, and resolving any tenant issues or concerns. Contact us today to learn more about our property management services.

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