In recent posts, we have been discussing online rental applications and the important role they play in the process of filling vacancies. We have talked about why you need an online rental application, what to look for in a rental application, reasons rental applications can be rejected, what a rental application is, and how to explain the necessity of a formal application to potential tenants.
While the importance of a rental application cannot be overstated, the application cannot stand alone. As a landlord, you have a simple goal in mind: to fill your vacancies with responsible tenants. Although the goal is not complex, the process of getting there can become complex quickly.
This is where a specific, sustainable plan is important. If you have just started your journey as a landlord, now is the perfect time to build out a solid process for filling vacancies. If you have been acting as a landlord for years, you can use your experience and knowledge to create the perfect procedure to keep your properties filled with ideal tenants.
The goal should be to create a process for yourself that functions smoothly whether you have one property or you expand to twenty properties. So how do you build this sustainable future for yourself? The following are our top four tips for becoming an organized landlord.
#1: Create A Written Plan
Even though right now it might just be you operating your rental units, a written plan is still the first place to begin. Creating a written plan is not just about having a document you can revisit when you feel yourself overwhelmed, it is also a method for organizing your thoughts.
Take the time to sit down and clearly define your goal. Are you hoping to purchase more rental properties down the road? Do you only want the property you currently have? Define your precise goal.
Now write out the methods you will use to reach that goal. Be detailed and document even concepts you think seem obvious. For example, your goal might be to keep your two properties occupied with responsible tenants. Your path might include advertising vacancies effectively, screening applicants with important credit and background checks, and implementing effective methods for rent payment collection.
Be sure to brush up on the Fair Housing Act regulations if you haven’t already done so. Then, create your list of qualifications for tenants. It is extremely important that you maintain the same exact standards for every applicant. For example, if you require applicants to go through a background check, make sure you stick to that requirement for every single applicant. If you determine you will not allow smokers in the unit, do not bend on that rule for anyone. Keeping the same organized guidelines will protect you against accusations of discrimination.
Make sure that when you create your plan, you build it to be adaptable no matter how many rental units you wind up owning. For example: instead of printing off paper applications that you hand deliver to potential applicants, use an online program that allows you to simply text a link to prospective applicants. This will ensure that even if you wind up with more rental units, you can still manage the flow of applications and screening. This leads us to our next tip.
#2: Keep Yourself Organized
If you have gone through the process of purchasing rental properties, you already know how much of a headache paperwork can become. It is easy to quickly become disorganized as a landlord. This becomes particularly troublesome when something goes awry with a tenant.
Make sure you keep things like rental applications, credit reports, background checks, eviction reports, and leases organized and easy to access.
Another reason organization is critical is to protect yourself from accusations of discrimination, as we talked about the above step. The best way to keep things organized is to use an online software that allows you to accept applications online and screen tenants with online reports.
#3: Streamline Processes
One of the most important things you can do for yourself to ensure that you can keep up with things, even as you grow your properties, is to find ways to streamline processes. Figure out methods to become more efficient and implement them.
One of the best ways to make your life easier is to incorporate the use of technology in your rental process. Find a landlord software that allows you to advertise your properties online across an array of channels without the need to re-type property listings. As an added bonus, choose a program that will save your property for later use. This will allow you to simply toggle back on marketing for that property, should it become available again. Small things like this can save you hours of labor.
Other areas you can streamline by using online processes include:
- Online rental applications
- Tenant screening
- Background checks
- Credit checks
- Eviction reports
#4: Learn To Say No
Anyone who has experience as a landlord will tell you the importance of the two-letter word, “No.” While we are implying you need to have an unfriendly approach with tenants, you do need to become adept at saying no when necessary.
Build a friendly, but professional relationship with your tenants. Be approachable, but also put your foot down when tenants ask for too much. For example, the following two scenarios demonstrate how you can be a fair, but firm landlord.
Your new tenant moves into the property. You send them a welcome letter and even leave them a useful gift, such as a gift card to a local restaurant or cleaning supplies for their new house. This is an acceptably friendly, but professional gesture. Your tenant pays their rent in a timely manner, and things continue smoothly. After a couple months of living in the rental home, the tenant reaches out and asks if they could have permission to install a firepit in the backyard.
Unfortunately, you know the liability of having a firepit in the backyard, and due to the size of the yard, you recognize this will be too dangerous to allow. You thank the tenant for checking with you first and explain that due to the size of the yard, there is not enough space to safely build a firepit in the backyard.
Although you may wish you could please your tenants in this situation, as they are being responsible and respectful, it is more important to protect yourself from this liability than it is to be your tenant’s favorite person.
You have new tenants move into your property. On the very first day of arrival, they reach out to you and request that you put in new flooring in the kitchen. They inform you that they are not pleased with the current condition of the flooring and that they would like to have better flooring material installed. They also tell you that they are going to paint their bedroom with a color that provides a calmer environment for them.
The lease they just signed prohibits them from making changes to the interior of the home without your consent. You firmly let them know that you cannot make any remodels to the kitchen flooring at this time and that they signed the lease for the current condition of the property. You also let them know that they cannot make any paint color changes to the house without your consent. If you decide to allow your tenants to make changes, make sure you document the changes and make it clear that they will have to return the wall to the same color as when they moved in at their time of departure.
While you may struggle with feeling like the bad guy at first, it is critical to your success as a landlord that you determine your boundaries and learn how to firmly say no when necessary.
#5: Obtain Help When You Need It
At the end of the day, if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or you are facing barriers you can’t seem to surmount, reach out for help. There are plenty of networks available online where you can discuss landlord related woes. Find a mentor who has experience as a landlord. If you expand and have too many properties to manage on your own, hire an assistant.
Landlording has its ups and downs, but ultimately it should be a journey you enjoy and profit from. Our goal at TurboTenant is to provide free online landlord software that will help make your day-to-day life easier. Our company is comprised of people who are also on the landlording journey, which is why we strive every day to ensure our products are the best possible. Check out our free landlord software today and enjoy landlording!