9 Tasks Every Landlord Should Be Prepared to Handle

| April 24, 2012 More

The business of owning a rental property requires a diverse skill set. Before you can decide whether to manage your own rental or hire a property management company to take care of it for you, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what a landlord’s key tasks are. While you likely already have a general idea of what’s required, here’s a more in-depth look at the things you’ll need to be prepared to handle:

Getting the property ready to rent: This involves ensuring that your property is free from safety hazards; that all major systems are in good working order; and that the home is sparkling clean, with fresh paint applied and new flooring installed as needed. You may want to have your house professionally inspected, cleaned, and landscaped as part of this process.

    • Pricing the rental: Each time you rent your house out, you’ll need to conduct a market study to determine how to set the rent. This will involve visiting several comparable properties in your area to get a sense of how your property stacks up and how you should price it.
    • Establishing policies and procedures + writing the lease: Before you start advertising and showing your rental house, it’s important to think through how you want to structure your lease. The major items to consider include lease length, what deposits you’ll require, and whether or not you’ll allow pets and/or smoking. You also need to think through the details, such as when rent is due and when “late” fees apply, how long “guests” can stay in the rental w/o being added to the lease, who is responsible for repairs of various types, etc. If you’re not using a professional property manager, you may want to consult with a real estate lawyer to make sure your lease adequately protects your interests.
    • Advertising and showing the property: Once you’ve done all the necessary prep work, you’ll need to advertise your rental and be available to answer phone calls and to show the property to interested tenants. You may want to consider holding an open house to make showing the property more efficient.
    • Screening and selecting tenants: This step involves running credit checks, background checks, verifying employment/monthly income, and checking personal references in order to to select the best tenant.
    • Collecting rent: While this is most landlords’ favorite part of the job, things can get tense quickly if you have a tenant who frequently pays late or asks for special arrangements to be made. When you self-manage a rental property, tenants know that you can bend the rules for them at your discretion, which may lead them to try to negotiate their rent payment schedule with you.
    • Handling routine and emergency maintenance: As a landlord, you’re legally required to maintain a “safe and habitable” place for your tenants to live. You should be prepared to handle routine maintenance on your home’s major systems (such as changing furnace filters, keeping gutters clear, etc). You’ll also need to respond promptly to any maintenance issues that arise.
    • Dealing with any lease violations: Whether the neighbors complain about excessive noise, a puppy appears when the lease agreement specifies that no pets are allowed, or your tenant is late with the rent, you’ll need to be prepared to take corrective action.
    • Handling record keeping, accounting, and tax preparation: Owning a rental home is running a business. You’ll need to keep proper records of your revenue and expenses for tax purposes, as well as for your own financial health.

Category: Renting My House FAQ