Effective Property Management is Crucial for Landlord Success
The main difference between a stressful landlord experience and a thriving landlord experience is putting the right processes and tools in place to manage your properties more effectively. The key areas that make land lording more effective are property maintenance, vendor management, tenant management, time management, and work-life balance.
Tenants are the heart and center of your property operations. Without tenants you wouldn’t have a property to manage and oversee in the first place, so it is vital to have a tenant management process in place to nurture tenants. Tenant management requires both people skills and business skills. The business side of managing tenants includes processing rents, managing a tenant portal, managing a tenant screening process, and staying on top of tenant complaints and work orders. The people side of tenant management involves everything from showing potential tenants around your property, walking through the apartment selling process, offering customer service to current tenants, and helping new and current tenants with any questions or tasks that they need.
One of the most important aspects of tenant management is attracting the right tenants to your property through effectively marketing your property and by offering amenities that appeal to the specific type of tenant that you are looking for. Once a potential tenant decides to move forward with moving into your property ensure that you have an effective application and tenant screening process in place. There are tons of application and tenant screening platforms out there, so use these tips to find the right platform for your business. Once a tenant has passed the application and screening process, it is time to sign the lease and agree to the terms of the lease. Then, it’s time for your new tenant to move in, make sure you outline specific move-in procedures for new tenants.
For current tenants it is important to also have specific guidelines and platforms in place to make theirs, and your, life easier. Make sure to have a rent payment system and a work-order submission platform or system in place to keep track of any late payments and any specific requests. Also, have a move-out process in place for current tenants that outlines specific timelines, damage/replacement costs, and schedule a walk-through date to assess the condition of the unit prior to the tenant moving out.
Another key area with tenant management is to always make communication with tenants a priority. Not only does consistent communication satisfy tenants, but it keeps them in the know. Whether you decide to email a monthly newsletter to tenants, or just have a bulletin bored with need to know information, tenants will appreciate the extra communication from management, because with tenants a little effort goes a long way!
Property maintenance is one of the most important aspects of being a landlord because the level of property maintenance performed affects property value, rental value, and it even reflects you as a business owner. Proper upkeep is crucial for the operation, control, and oversight of any rental property. As important as property maintenance is, it is surprising the number of landlords who don’t have a system in place to easily manage their property. This is mainly because it can be confusing to know how often and when to perform routine maintenance. Questions surrounding how often to perform maintenance, legal responsibilities, and how to save money on maintenance are all common questions surrounding the topic.
Legally landlords are required to perform basic functions of property maintenance to ensure a property is habitable. A habitable property requires that plumbing, heating, electricity, and appliances are maintained, as well as providing a structurally secure environment. The specific landlord maintenance legal requirements vary from state to state, and sometimes from city-to-city. To ensure that all regulations are being met be sure to check your local landlord-tenant laws and codes – it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Aside from legal requirements, landlords should perform property maintenance regularly. Performing regular maintenance will reduce the likelihood of costly repairs down the line and will keep tenants feeling safe and satisfied. The key to staying on top of regular property maintenance is to develop a maintenance routine. Create a list of maintenance that needs to be performed yearly, quarterly, monthly, and seasonally and schedule the maintenance needed in advance.
Monthly maintenance should include pest control, lawn care, testing carbon monoxide testers, and during peak seasons monthly visits from pool cleaning companies. We know that all of these maintenance tasks are a lot to keep up with, so we’ve developed a Free Maintenance Calendar for Landlords. All you have to do is download the calendar, print it out, and hang it up by your desk. Then schedule the maintenance in advance at the beginning of the year or throughout the year as needed!
Vendors are maintenance and service providers that perform needed maintenance around your property. They take care of everything from big projects to routine maintenance. Choosing the right vendor to service your property is more than just finding a vendor who can perform needed tasks. It’s about finding the vendors who you can trust to take excellent care of your property and your tenants.
You can find vendors to service your property by asking for referrals from other landlords, performing a simple Google search and looking at reviews, and even reaching out to local real estate investment agencies (like us!), because they usually have a list of qualified and experience vendors that they regularly refer and have already vetted who are local to your specific area.
Once you’ve found each specific type of vendor that you would like to work with, it’s important to vet and screen potential vendors before signing or agreeing to anything. During this process consider the vendors’ services, pricing, length and terms of agreement, and reviews. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few references- the more research the better.
Another thing to consider when screening vendors is to see if their company fits with your company/property culture, because everyone that you hire to service your property is an extension and a representation of your business. Don’t skip this step- it is essential to research, screen, and vet potential vendors before entrusting them to service your property and your tenants.
After selecting the right vendors to work with, always have a contract in place that includes the basics. Now that you’ve established a few property vendors, always keep regular communication with your vendors. If needed, speak with them on a regular basis to ensure that they are servicing your property and to address any maintenance details. Set regular maintenance appointments in advance by pre-scheduling all regular maintenance out at the beginning of the year.
Mastering the art of time management is crucial for successful people and for successful landlords. Time management is the process of planning and organizing time spent on activities. It is essential to allocate adequate time and track the length of time being spent on each activity. By implementing effective time management, your work as a landlord will be much simpler, effective, and efficient. Good time management allows you to work smarter so that you will get more done in less time.
With an effective time management system in place, you’ll be able to get more done in less time. The first step of creating a solid time management strategy depends on your unique landlord needs and on the type of tasks that you usually have. One approach to time management is the time blocking method, a good place to start when tackling time management. Many Evergreen team members use the time blocking method throughout their day to ensure that they are completing all needed tasks.
One thing that our team also lives by is the idea of ‘tackling the big rocks first’, which is the idea of tackling your important task, or rock, at the start of your day. By doing this you knock out your biggest or most important task and then have the rest of the day to focus on the smaller items on your to-do list.
The many benefits of time management range from an increase in productivity and a decrease in stress (to name just a few). The benefits of time management are ongoing and outweigh the amount of time that may initially need to be set aside to come up with a solid time management strategy that will work for you and your landlord business.
Work-life balance is a vital aspect of becoming a successful and effective landlord. The reality is that if you’re always working then burnout will catch up with you and will cause you to become ineffective and exhausted. Finding work-life balance can be difficult, especially if you are solely managing your property or if you have a small team, but it is possible.
The secret to finding work-life balance in any career, especially in being a landlord, is by setting boundaries. The first boundary all landlords should set are time boundaries. Time boundaries ensure that you are only working and performing work-related tasks during your schedule work time. This means not taking work home and not touching the laptop or checking your email on the weekends. Adopting a leave work at work mindset should be a top priority if you want to achieve the work life-balance that all landlords aspire to have. Setting these boundaries may be difficult at first, but it is well worth it.
The second types of boundaries you should set are personal time boundaries. All things outside of work fall into this category including family activities, personal relaxation, hobbies, and other personal interests. It is crucial to take time to do what you love and to spend time with the people you love if you want to find work-life balance. You may be thinking that this idea sounds great in theory, but it is impractical for you and your business. That may be a fact for you today but changing your perspective will help you realize the importance of establishing a personal boundary. The categories within the personal boundary space are the things that fuel us and things that allow us to take a break from the chaos of running your own business: family, friends, love, hobbies, and passions. These things are some of the necessary outlets that you must make time for in order to have work-life balance.
Take the steps necessary to find a work-life balance and rhythm that works for you. The solution to finding work life balance will vary depending on your personal and business goals. Consider hiring additional help, partnering with a property management company, or just shutting down shop once a week. Whatever the solution is, it is worth it because work-life balance is crucial to reduce burnout and will help landlords to work more effectively.