You may need to become a landlord for many different reasons including:
- You bought a new home in New York City but were unable to sell your old one down the block.
- You bought a new home in Austin, Texas but want to keep your old one as a rental property in Houston as rent prices increase.
- You got a new job in a different city but still want to keep your original home when you move.
- You inherited your parents’ home but want to keep it as a rental.
We’re sure there are other circumstances that would cause you to become a landlord, and if that’s happened to you, here are some things to think about:
It’s Not the Same
No matter how good your tenant may be, they will draw the line somewhere, as they are only renters and you are the owner. If you are the type of person that never puts off repairs, you can’t automatically expect your tenant to do the same. If you are paying the water bill, for example, that kitchen drip is going to get fixed right away. Your tenant, however, may have better things to do, and you – as the landlord – may pay for thousands of gallons of water before you ever find out that there is a problem. Make sure you schedule frequent inspections to ensure that you can perform needed maintenance. Information about these inspections should be included in your lease.
If It’s Too Good to Be…
If you list your one-bedroom condo for $1,300 per month and immediately a would-be tenant appears, offers you $1,500 per month and a $1,500 security deposit — all in cash — if he could just possibly move in right away, take a step back. If you lease to a tenant that turns out to be unsatisfactory, the burden is on you to remove them, and you may very well have to go to court to evict.
Make sure that you vet all prospective tenants carefully. There are many background check platforms available online, and in addition, a realtor can help you here. Many landlords will pay up to one month’s rent to a Rrealtor or leasing agent to get a quality tenant.
Don’t Skimp on Paint
Tenants expect even older units to have a fresh coat of paint before they move in. If you think you can just take some spray cleaner and remove those dark marks from the walls, think again. Money you spend in making your unit ready should translate into higher rent.
Use a real lease from a real lawyer. Avoid the temptation to merely download something online and fill in the blanks. Lease provisions cannot conflict with local laws, and many novice landlords have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to correct lease errors after the fact.
Wear and Tear Is Normal
Face it, understand it, and realize it: Your unit or home will not look the same after tenants have lived there and subsequently moved out.
In addition, damage that can be classified as “normal wear and tear” cannot usually be deducted from a tenant’s security deposit and will require some type of home repairs. If your place needs repainting because the walls are dirty, for example, that will probably be your responsibility as a landlord.
While there is a lot more to becoming a landlord than what we have discussed here, the above issues are common. We do suggest that you do your diligence and thoroughly understand the roles of both landlords and tenants before you commit to renting a property you own.
This article has been contributed by our friends at ABODO Apartments.