Whether you’re considering renting out your basement suite, an apartment, or an entire building of units, being a landlord is a tough gig. There’s much more to it than just allowing your first tenant to move in right away. It takes time, patience and huge amounts of care to be on top form as a landlord.
Here are some tips to consider before hanging that “For Rent” sign:
Landlords are on-call 24/7
As a landlord, you need to be reachable at all hours in case of emergencies. If a pipe bursts at 2:00 am, you must be available to contact an emergency plumber or to go in and check out the issue yourself. There will always be little fixes here or there that tenants can leave for a couple days, however there are certain situations that you will have to make yourself available for, no matter the time.
You are your own marketer
Though in certain tight rental markets you may be able to find renters no problem, oftentimes you’ll need to devote a lot of time, energy, and creativity to marketing your rental units. Besides a “For Rent” sign outside your property you’ll have to post ads on rental websites, in newspaper classifieds (yes this is still a thing!), and on internet mailing lists. You may need to go to college campuses, if you’re planning on renting to students, and ask the campus housing office to put up a notice for your units. Though it takes a lot of effort, properly marketing your rental unit(s) is a very important step to getting it/them rented.
Finding the right tenants is not always easy
After posting your ad on rental websites and showing prospective tenants your units, you’ll have to do a great deal of research and screening to determine whether tenants are suited to your property’s needs. Best practice for you and prospects would be to have all interested tenants fill out a tenant application including credit checks, rental history, tenant referencing from past landlords, and proof of income. Though you will be able to find that perfect tenant eventually, know that the process can be a bit grueling and take a long time and a lot of back and forth with several potential tenants. And remember, screen screen screen!
Read up on landlord laws
There are many laws in place to protect tenants and to protect landlords. It is your responsibility to know these and be able to follow them and to ensure your tenants are following the rules as well. For instance, there are health codes that need to be adhered to regarding rodent and insect control as well as proper working plumbing. You also must ensure the area around the property is safe, like salting any outside stairs or sidewalks in the winter months. There are laws on how to handle a security deposit and laws for minimum space temperatures in the winter months. It’s your duty as a landlord to learn and follow these rules.
Though landlords have several responsibilities, most you talk to will tell you there are many excellent benefits to the job. You get to be on the move and on your feet instead of sitting at a desk five days a week, or you can supplement your current income with your profit from your rental income. And there are opportunities to meet people you connect with on a day-to-day basis. In the end, you’re giving people a place to call home and that feels great too.
If you have rental units or are in the early stages of becoming a landlord and would like a solution for screening potential tenants, contact us!