If you’re a good landlord, you’re more likely to keep your tenants in place for longer, thus ensuring a steady cash flow and avoiding disruptive hunts for new tenants.
Being a good landlord isn’t just about handing over some keys and taking in a wad of cash every month.
For those doing it themselves – rather than employing a property manager – it’s even more important to stick to the rules.
There are good landlords and there are bad landlords, and the better you are, the more likely your tenants are to stick around – which can only be a good thing for your cash flow, as well as your peace of mind.
But what does it take to be a decent landlord?
Various aspects of the tenant-landlord relationship are key to keeping things working nicely – for everyone involved.
Here are some of the main ones:
• Keep your distance: Forming close friendships with tenants is rarely a good idea, for anybody.
A good, polite, professional relationship is a great thing, but if you look on the people paying to live in your property as your friends, you’re unlikely to maintain that professional distance, the consequences of which can be the system losing structure and even tenants taking advantage of your good nature.
• Keep your distance – emotionally: Try not to become too attached to your property.
This can be a particular problem with owner-occupiers who move out of a property and decide to rent it out.
It’s easy to feel as if the place is still your home, and things should stay exactly as you like them, but the fact it, it’s now someone else’s home, and you need to have respect for that.
If a tenant wants to have bizarre plant life littering every room, or terrifying artwork adorning the lounge walls, they’re perfectly entitled to do so, as long as they’re not damaging the property.
• Don’t turn up unannounced: There are rules in place to prevent this happening, but some owners still feel as though they can simply pop round and let themselves in whenever they want.
This is completely unacceptable, usually illegal, and means you’re crossing the boundary into someone’s home.
Stick to the law when it comes to giving notice of visits and respect the whole property – including the garden – as somebody else’s territory.
• Get problems sorted promptly: There’s little that will annoy a tenant more than reporting a problem with the property and nothing being done about it.
By the time they’ve reported the issue – be it a leaking tap or a crumbling wall – the tenants are already suffering (even from simple frustration), so prolonging their misery is only going to increase their annoyance.
In a similar vein, don’t simply opt for the cheapest tradesman to get the job done – this benefits neither you nor the tenant, as a bodge job now will only require more work in the future.
Treat the problem as if it needed rectifying in your own home, and hire a trusted workman to do a good job.
• Pay attention to the market: Keep on top of rents in the surrounding area, and make sure to put yours up in line with others when they move.
Failing to react to market changes promptly can lead to larger rental price hikes in the future, which can really hit a tenant where it hurts.
Likewise, don’t try to squeeze as much as you can from the occupants – charge a fair price and everyone can be happy.
• Treat your rentals as a business: Being a landlord isn’t just a hobby, it’s a bone fide business, and you need to approach it as one – which entails time, patience and sometimes money.
If you think of it as a hobby, you’re probably not putting in enough effort, and you’re likely to lose out in the long run.
One of the things that can make life an awful lot easier, of course, is to employ a property manager to oversee your rentals.
However, that too is a decision that needs to be approached with care – make sure you put the time and research in to find a respected manager that will take care of your property and your tenants as you would yourself.
Check they don’t have too many properties already on their books with too few people to manage them, and that they have principles similar to your own when it comes to handling an investment property.