Have you been thinking about becoming a landlord? Do you want to know how to be a good landlord? Maybe you like the idea of becoming a landlord but you aren’t sure if you have what it takes to be a really good landlord.
I wasn’t sure about becoming a landlord myself. I was forced to turn my condo into an “Accidental Rental” in 2009 when I needed to move but couldn’t sell due to the housing crisis.
I had all of the same fears and questions you might be having right now. How do I find a good tenant who pays on time and doesn’t trash my home? What are the rules of setting up a rental? How do I write a lease?
I didn’t let it deter me though. I researched everything I could (like you are right now). I didn’t really have a choice but maybe you do. If you are wondering how to become a good landlord, keep reading.
This article will highlight the 7 traits you should adopt to become a good landlord.
But before you decide to become a landlord, you need to ask yourself two critical questions.
The Two Most Important Questions To Ask Yourself Before Becoming A Landlord
Ask yourself these two questions before deciding to become a landlord.
I assume you have a property in mind on which you are thinking about pulling the trigger. If so, you should have a good handle on the numbers. If not, check out IdealREI’s excellent article with a simple deal calculator to get you started.
Running the numbers is crucial but you shouldn’t pull the trigger until you can honestly answer the next question!
Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Good Landlord?
Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out to be a landlord. We’ve all probably had our share of not-so-great landlords who seemed unorganized, unresponsive or just plain unfair.
I’ve been self-managing my properties for a decade now. I’m definitely not the most experienced landlord and rental property investor out there, but I’ve learned enough to know that these are the 7 most important attitudes of really good landlords. You don’t have to always exhibit all of these attitudes, but as you read them, ask yourself truthfully, “is this me?”
1 - Good Landlords Are Problem Solvers
Good landlords are really good at solving problems. They face numerous challenges they need to solve, sometimes daily depending on the number of units managed.
Did your tenant just text you saying they can’t meet the plumber today? You better have a backup plan. Can you turnover a rental in a few hours to accommodate a new tenant who needs to move in today? How should you compensate your tenant for loss of use? How can you encourage a bad tenant to leave early without resorting to a costly eviction?
These are just a few of the common problems every landlord will face eventually. Good landlords view these problems as puzzles to be solved. Good landlord ask themselves “how can I solve this in a way that works for everyone?”
2 - Good Landlords Enjoy Working With People
I recently read the following in a landlord forum:
Q: What is the biggest mistake you've made as a landlord and/or what is one of your biggest regrets?
A: Becoming a landlord. It literally made me interact with the worst of the worst people in society for 10 years.
If you think this might be your reaction, stop. Don’t become a landlord. A good landlord doesn’t feel this way at all. A good landlord genuinely likes working with and helping people. Helping people find a good home they can afford is part of what motivates good landlords. It helps them put things in perspective when it gets rough.
This attitude also helps them to be patient when dealing with upset tenants. They’ve learned not to get upset or take insults personally. They enjoy working with people and keep their cool when tenants are being jerks.
3 - Good Landlords Can Spot A Liar
Experienced landlords know how to spot a lie. They’ve seen firsthand or heard stories of common scams and know the warning signs such as renting an apartment sight unseen or offering to pay several months rent in advance. However, they don’t rely just on intuition. Good landlords have a strict vetting process and they don’t allow pressure or other tactics keep them from doing their due diligence.
Good landlords are diligent in fact-checking their prospective tenant’s applications. They cross-check references including employer and previous landlord. They also run background and credit checks. Finally, they stick to their criteria for accepting new tenants. This helps ensure they only rent to quality tenants and it also helps protect them against potential fair housing violation accusations.
4 - Good Landlords Are Not Deterred By Setbacks
Tenant damages, late payments, evictions, etc. There will be problems and setbacks but good landlords take these events in stride.
My first condo was flooded from the unit above three times! I‘ve had to refinish the hardwood floors, repaint the walls and repair the ceiling way too many times but I still own that rental. Why? Because it earns good money and I have a long-term goal that keeps things like this in perspective.
If you are easily deterred by minor setbacks like late payments or annoyed neighbors, then you will want to throw in the towel when faced with bigger problems. Be honest and ask yourself, will you be OK when you need to evict a tenant before the holidays for not paying rent? Will you be able to stomach a $6,000 repair bill? Having long-term goals will keep your eye on the prize.
Here are a few common rookie landlord mistakes to avoid.
5 - Good Landlords Are Fair
All good landlords
have rules and expectations they set for their tenants but they are not arbitrary or unfair. They explain why there are quiet hours or why the lawn needs to be cut at least every two weeks. Most importantly, they enforce the rules consistently. No exceptions or favoritism.
Good landlords also have fees but they do not nickel and dime their tenants. They understand that excessive charges will drive good tenants away and that will cost them much more in the long run.
However, they are clear with their tenants when there is damage beyond normal wear and tear. Explaining to their tenant the damage observed and giving them a chance to repair (professionally) is much better than arguing about it after deducting it from their security deposit.
Good landlords also fulfill their duties under the lease. This generally means they will do everything to ensure the tenant has “quiet enjoyment” of the property. Which means they are quick to make repairs and respect their tenant’s privacy.
Finally, they also understand that keeping a good tenant is a priority. Therefore, they reinforce good behaviors like rewarding on-time rent collection and offering lease renewal gifts. And when it comes time to move out, they are accommodating, even if a tenant needs to leave early. They understand that their reputation is at stake and they don’t want to let a bad review damage an otherwise good reputation.
6 - Good Landlords Are Not Pushovers
Good landlords are firm but fair. They are not doormats. Nor do they let emotions get the best of them. They know how to simultaneously show compassion but still keep an arm’s length relationship. They have rules and policies. When a tenant asks for an exception, they know hot to be firm but fair. Good landlords simply explain they cannot make an exception or it wouldn’t be fair to other tenants.
Also, they don’t feel the need to be liked. They are not friends with their tenants. It’s a business relationship. The bank doesn’t let your tenant miss a car loan payment so why should you let them pay rent late?
7 - Good Landlords Treat Their Rentals Like A Business
A common trap for new landlords is not treating their rental like a proper business. This is especially true for accidental landlords who turned their home into a rental.
Don’t let your attachment to your former home cloud your judgment and don’t forget it’s a business first. Here are some key ways landlords manage their rental like a business:
- Offer tenants various ways to contact them (Google Voice, Email, online PM portals, etc.), but are explicit on how to contact them in an emergency.
- Establish Office Hours for non-emergencies
- Build a reserve for unexpected and large repairs
- Maintain well-documented policies and rules that are visible for tenants
- Don’t co-mingle personal and rental funds
- Understand how their product (rental property) compares to the competition
- Maintain good records and document all tenant interactions
Take The Good Landlord Mindset Quiz
Hopefully, you now have a pretty good idea of what makes a good landlord. If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to become a good landlord, take the Landlord Mindset quiz. Answer 25 simple questions and see how you score. This quiz can help you decide if you really want to become a landlord or not.
The decision to become a landlord is not one to take lightly. Ask yourself two questions first: (1) Do the numbers work and (2) Do I have what it takes to become a good landlord.
IdealREI offers a number of resources to help you answer the first question but only you can answer the second one.
Review the 7 traits of good landlords above and be honest with yourself. If you can honestly see yourself exhibiting these traits in similar situations then you might have what it takes to be a good landlord. On the other hand, if these traits don’t describe you, then maybe you should reconsider your goal of becoming a landlord.
Take the Landlord Mindset quiz to explore this topic further and see if you have what it takes to truly be a good landlord!