Landlord Roles and Responsibilities
Contrary to popular opinion, a landlord’s roles and responsibilities comprise of much more than just collecting rent. On an ongoing basis, landlords need to stay on top of the current landlord-tenant laws - every municipality, state, and country has different laws regarding the landlord/tenant relationship. Additionally, landlords are often sales people, mediators, handymen/women, and negotiators.
Being a landlord can be a complicated and requires relationship management above all else. The following is a list of some of a landlord’s general duties and tasks. Of course, this is a simplified list, but should give a wholistic view of the entrepreneurial nature of the position.
1. Finding a tenant
Here are the main steps in getting a quality tenant into your investment property.
a. Get the property rent ready – this could include making sure the property is up to the local building codes, paint touch ups, etc.
b. Market the property – nowadays online marketing is sufficient. Websites such as Zillow Rental Manager allow landlords to easily propagate one listing to multiple sites. Open houses and private showings are the two primary ways of presenting the property; however, creating a walk-through video can the helpful for potential out of town tenants.
c. Screen tenants – Once a tenant expresses interest and fills out an application, tenant screening is the next step. Tenant screening is the most important step in renting properties. The more robust the screening process, the easier a landlord’s job becomes moving forward. Checking income, credit reports, criminal and eviction history, and previous landlord references can give a comprehensive summary of the tenant’s background. In today’s connected environment, checking a tenant’s online presence may also be of value.
2. Collecting Rent
The following are a few well-known rent collection methods:
• Physical visit – some landlords prefer to make their “rounds” on the first of the month to collect rent. This allows them to maintain a relationship with the tenant but also have up-to-date knowledge of the property condition.
• Check or money order – these may be collected during a physical visit or mailed/dropped off by the tenant by the agreed upon date at a specific location.
• Online – Online rent collection systems are becoming common as they are the least time-consuming option. Another benefit is that they provide a track record of payments for tenant and owner records – very helpful at tax filing time.
3. Maintaining the property
Maintenance issues can be divided into the following categories:
• Urgent issues – these are items that must be dealt with immediately, for example, any issues with the working of heat, running water, etc.
• Semi-Urgent issues – for example, pest control or leaks. These issues should be addressed within a reasonable amount of time and should not be taken lightly.
• Non-urgent matters – these may include cosmetic issues. However, it is important to remember that a matter that may not seem urgent to a landlord may be extremely important to a tenant. Tenants appreciate responsiveness the most.
Keeping ongoing communication with tenants during maintenance issues and throughout the lease term, results in more positive outcomes, even in the most stressful situations.
All in all, being a landlord is generally time-consuming and sometimes difficult. However,if one genuinely cares about the well-being of the tenants and strives to provide great customer service, it is an enjoyable and rewarding experience.