Renting your first apartment or house is an exciting turning point in your life. It can also be stressful, since the huge yearly rent (we envy climes where tenants pay on a monthly basis!) often uses up the bulk of your paycheck. And then there’s the fact that you need to adhere to certain rules and policies, as well as seek out your landlord whenever something goes wrong with the property.
You’ve probably heard worrying stories about absentee landlords. However, most aren’t there to scam tenants. Like any business, they’ll only succeed by providing a quality service. You can do your part by being a model tenant. Here are some ways to do just that:
- Be honest when completing the rental form. Don’t lie about your job, finances or how many pets you have. It’s tempting to sweeten the truth a bit in order to get into a great apartment, since the market can be very competitive. However, as soon as your landlord finds out that you fibbed, there will be trust issues.
- Contact your landlord right away if there is a problem. Don’t let the problem get worse by letting it fester for weeks. If the air conditioning isn’t working, a window is leaking or a funny smell is emanating from the carpet, speak up. Find out what the protocol is for reporting repairs and other problems, and then follow it precisely and promptly.
- Pay on time. Nothing is more aggravating for a landlord than having to chase up payments from tenants. If you want to be on your landlord’s good side, pay on time. If you’re going to have a problem paying in full, let your landlord know as soon as possible. If you’ve been a respectful, friendly and trustworthy tenant so far, your landlord will probably be a little lenient when these matters come up.
Tips for First-Time Landlords
Investing in real estate can be a great source of income, but it’s not passive income. You’ll need to be active in ensuring that your properties are maintained and that your tenants follow any policies you have in place, not to mention pay on time. Here are some ways you can ensure things go as smoothly as possible:
- Separate your personal and business phone numbers. Doing so will help you maintain the ever-elusive work/life balance. However, it’s important to also be readily available for emergencies, as it’s your responsibility to handle any repairs needed on the property.How can you get the best of both worlds? Fortunately, there are digital call services that help route calls, present callers with voice menus, allow you to manage multiple voicemails, and more. You can have a single cell phone with the functionality of the complex phone systems used in larger businesses.
- Create a business entity. Even if you are running a solo operation, have an attorney help you set up a business entity. The business name can go on all of your paperwork instead of your personal name. You can be known simply as the landlord rather than the owner of the house (even if both are true).Your role as a landlord is the “good cop,” and you can make the owner’s role the “bad cop.” A tenant is unhappy with a policy? Say something like “The owner is very strict about this.” It will help you to enforce your policies without creating resentment toward you as a landlord. This trick will make your life a whole lot easier.
- Outline your policies right away. It’s a bad idea to make rules up as you go along. Learn as much as you can from seasoned landlords. They all have stories to tell about tenants who did something unexpected that warranted a new policy to be put in place. Learn from their cautionary tales, and then set up your own list of policies.Be sure each tenant has a copy of your policies and that you enforce them.
This article was written by Cathy Habas for Hutbay Blog. Cathy is a professional freelancer who loves writing informative and interesting articles on interior design and home renovation.