When I bought my first property and placed my first tenant…I was a complete disaster! No point in beating around the bush right! As a real estate investor, I learned just enough to be dangerous and I certainly was. I was dangerous to my bottom line and dangerous to my future earnings. By not being diligent with the learning process and making sure I had all the information I needed in place, I was jeopardizing my families investment in that property. Here are some tips that I learned the hard way and you can learn the easy way! Follow these steps and operating an investment property as the landlord can be made easier and less stressful.
What are the laws in your state or municipality
There are different laws around the country for both landlords and renters and you absolutely must know the laws that pertain to your area. That being said, here is the easiest way to learn those laws. First, contact local property management companies and ask for their guidance with local land lording laws. It may take more than one call, but be proactive and ask for their assistance. Most will be more than happy to answer a few of your top questions. Second, contact local landlords that advertise properties for rent in the local papers. Many times, with an offer to buy them lunch or dinner, a local landlord will spend time telling you how they operate and what they know about local laws. Finally, when you have a better idea of your market place and the local laws, you turn to a local attorney who specializes in representing landlords. They can assist you with the ins and outs of how to operate as a landlord to give yourself the best opportunity for success.
Developing a great lease
Once you have established a better understanding of your local land lording laws, you can also develop your lease. Chances are, if you will ask, other landlords will share their lease with you. Another possibility is that your attorney will already have a lease that they can give you to use. Using a proper lease is the best way to protect yourself when it comes time to collect late rents or possibly move towards dealing with a problem tenant in the legal process. Being clear and precise in your lease is the best way to protect yourself when it comes time to involve the local courts and laws as a landlord. Once you have a great lease, make sure you have a great closing process. Make sure that your tenant not only signs every page of your lease, but it is a good idea to have them sign key parts of the lease where the legal process is laid out. Cover yourself and your tenant to ensure your success.
Create your process
Problems will absolutely occur when you are a landlord. From late rents, evictions, maintenance calls and even maintenance issues that have to be charged back to the tenant. All of these situations will occur to you as a landlord and you must be prepared form the beginning on how you are going to handle each of those situations and be consistent. I suggest you put it in writing and have that process filed with your attorney. Once you have committed it to writing and filed it with your attorney, you have no choice! You must follow that policy. That policy will spell out when a tenant is late, what the repercussions are going to be, when that process moves to the stage of eviction, when the tenant will be notified and again, what the repercussions are going to be. If you will follow the process you lay out, you will be moving in the right direction and the legal process will be easy.
Dealing with evictions
Evictions are one of the few absolutes in the property investment business. If you are going to manage your own properties, then getting over the fact that you will have evictions to deal with is a must. Renters will pay late, they will push the envelope and some know every step to take to play the game of staying in a property for the maximum number of days for the minimum number of dollars. If you have created your lease based on what you learned form other landlords, management companies and your lawyer and created your process for dealing with tenants (and followed that process) then you will have a very good chance of winning the eviction as quick as possible and for the least amount of work and cost.
Moving forward as a landlord
Investing in real estate and choosing to operate as your own landlord both can be very profitable and rewarding. Simply making that decision will not be enough. You must take the time to get educated and prepared to be a good landlord and out your contracts and systems in place. These simple steps will absolutely help you to become a better investor and a better landlord.