This is the last of our Landlord Tips article series, for now at least. We have covered a few topics that are important to many landlords and tenants both. Here are a few miscellaneous tips that didn't fit into any of the other articles but are important all the same. 1. Screening Tenants. This is arguably the most important thing to do as a landlord. You cannot accept any random person off the street and expect them to make the payments each month. Always ask for credit scores, references, and be sure to interview those who you are interested in renting to. It is always important to remember that age can make a big difference in some of these situations though. If someone is a first-time renter, they obviously cannot produce previous rental history and probably don't have much credit history. This is why meeting is also a large factor of the screening process. 2. Know Your State's Laws. When it comes to being a landlord, you always want to be protected in every way that you can. This includes knowing both the rental laws that protect you as a landlord and those that protect residents. You always have to assume that your tenant will do research to see what they can be protected against, whether they do that or not. Knowing both sides of the law is an invaluable resource for a landlord. The great thing now is that you can research online and print out some papers so you can always consult it at a later date if needed. 3. Market Your Apartment. Marketing your apartment has probably changed either since you were a renter or even since you became a landlord. Newspapers are not popular anymore for finding apartments. In fact, the majority of searches are done online. This means that you need to acquaint yourself with the websites and apps that most people use as well as take pictures and post listings. If you are unsure how to do this, a realtor is always a great investment. These past four articles have not been an all-inclusive guide to being a landlord, but we do hope they have helped you even just a little bit. You never know how things are going to be a few years from now when it comes to being a landlord, but we will do all we can to help prepare you for the here and now!
In our current series of articles, we are offering some simple tips for landlords to either implement or even just consider when it comes to different subjects. So far, we have covered rent and pets, so if you are interested in maybe trying something new with either of those be sure to check them out. In this article, we will be talking about actual financial and investment choices that you may run into. Hopefully these will help you optimize your rental property for the best return. 1. Renovations. Renovations are a tricky subject when it comes to rental properties. Sometimes they are necessary and other times they are simply cosmetic. The main thing to think about when it comes to renovations is how much it costs versus how much you can regain in rent. Obviously if something needs to be fixed due to a safety issue, there is no question. However things like updating appliances or changing around a floor plan may not be worth the up front fees quite yet. Never bite off more than you can chew when it comes to these renovations. 2. Extra Rental Options. If you have a property with outbuildings, you may want to think about renting them separately. For example, you may have a shed on the property that you keep a bunch of old tools in. If you are hoping for a little extra income, you can ask your resident if they would like to rent it out for a small added fee. Many people need extra storage or would like a workroom for things that can't really be done inside the house or apartment. They may even request you leave some of the things in there for their use! 3. Property Management. While we are obviously bias on this subject, we cannot stress enough just how important it is to have the proper property management company. Getting someone on your side who knows what they are doing can mean the difference between just scraping by and pulling your hair out and feeling confident as a landlord. If you have enjoyed these past three articles, stay tuned for the last Landlord Tips article coming soon. You never know if there may be something in here that you hadn't thought of before!
Apartment living is not always easy for everyone. Each person just wants to live out their lives without much input from their neighbors, but in apartment living this isn't always an option. Thin walls, nosy neighbors, and scheduling differences abound and can cause friction between your residents if someone has different ideals about what is normal or okay to do in regards to apartment living. This is why sometimes having a sort of schedule for your residents may just be the best idea. Although it may seem a little collegiate, having something like "quiet hours" or "courtesy hours" are not particularly uncommon in a complex. These are times when people should pay extra attention to how much volume they are making and generally take place at night. For example, asking people to be extra quiet from midnight until nine in the morning during the weekend but from nine pm to nine am during the rest of the week may be perfectly acceptable. The rest of the time, especially if you are having noise complaints, maybe just remind your residents that people can sometimes hear each other and keep an eye on how loud they are being. Another thing that you may want to put up hours for is the laundry if you have some on sight. For example, my current apartment sits right on top of my building's laundry room and as a result I can always hear when someone is doing a load of wash. Although I understand that doing wash at two in the morning is sometimes a necessity, I certainly don't like being woken up by a machine kicking on. There are some people who sleep very lightly and it can be a cause of contention if they are woken up like this. Post hours of use in your on-site laundry room and hopefully your residents will follow them. Although no one really likes to have schedules placed on them in regards to their housing, many of these things are rather small and are based off of common courtesy. As a result, most people will not mind small things like this but it certainly doesn't hurt to remind your residents that they may be doing something that can disturb others around them. Try having small schedules for those who live in your apartment buildings and complexes and see what everyone things about it.
In a previous article, we gave you a couple of tips for new landlords, or even landlords that may have not thought of changing something up. The tips we gave you previously had to do with rent collection and these have to deal with pets. Pets are a touchy subject with many people and may be a deal breaker if you don't allow them. The decision is, of course, up to you. However, here are some things to consider when it comes to allowing pets or not. 1. Certain Kinds Only. Many landlords will state that they will only allow certain kinds of animals in their apartment. For example, my apartment complex does not allow dogs at all, and it is up to the individual unit owner if they want to allow cats or not. However, according to the bylaws of the complex, each unit is only allowed a maximum of one cat each. Some landlords only allow an animal that can be kept in a tank, such as lizards, fish, or snakes. Weigh the benefits of each type of animal over what can go wrong and see what works best for you. 2. Pet Deposits. A good amount of landlords will only allow pets if the person pays an extra deposit. This may be a monthly fee or a larger lump sum at the beginning of each lease. This often covers the amount that steam cleaning would cost or maybe even a new carpet depending on the damage that the animals cause. This is a good way to offset any problems you may have with a resident's animal. 3. By Request Only. I personally have a cat and always ask if a landlord would accept a small pet even if there is no information given. Sometimes I would ask even if the pet policy says no but it has been listed for a while. My current apartment was listed as no pets, but after asking I got the okay from the landlord. He said that he would allow a pet if I already had it, so that's another option that you may want to explore. Pets can be difficult to work around for many potential residents, but there are some options for you to reach some middle ground. Hopefully everyone will be able to walk away happy.
Sometimes, residents move in the middle of the month. This is rare, but it certainly does happen. This is especially true if you are currently on a month to month lease agreement with your tenant. Sometimes apartments are listed with a move in date in the middle of the month or even have "As Soon As Possible" written down. In situations like these, you may end up getting a notice that your current tenant will be leaving your place in the middle of the month. So what can do you in that situation? The first thing to know is your state laws. For example, my state says that a landlord can collect a full month of rent even if the tenant leaves part way through. Some states have laws that say if a tenant alerts their landlord after the first of the month, no matter when they move out they must pay the rest of the current month along with the next. While most landlords won't enforce this, it is a possibility depending on your relationship with the tenant and what state they left your rental property in. If you are the landlord of the apartment that someone is moving into in the middle of the month, you may also have some issues. The main thing to consider is how you want your tenant to pay the rent. Some landlords request the half month (or whatever period of time exists before the next month begins) and the full next month up front, others simply ask for a month at a time and get the check in the middle of the month. Others still will break it down into future monthly payments until the amount has been met for that little bit of time before they drop down the payments to the agreed upon amount. At the end of the day, the decision is yours but you need to be sure that you keep tabs on how it's going to work. There is nothing wrong with moving in the middle of the month, but it may take a little extra work on both the tenant and landlord's part. Remember to read up on your state laws to know what your rights as a landlord are when it comes to a resident moving in the middle of the month and how you want to handle it.