Being a landlord can be a great way to earn income on your own schedule, especially if you own a property that you’re not using and would be standing vacant otherwise. However, while managing a property can be lucrative, it’s certainly not easy and takes a great deal of time, attention, and expertise to be successful. Additionally, tenants’ legal rights become your responsibility as a landlord, and there can be serious consequences if you’re unaware of those rights or don’t prioritize them. Landlord mistakes can be small and inconsequential, or they can lead to costly repairs, lost rent, and legal fees.
Even Experienced Landlords Can Make Mistakes
If you’re brand-new to being a landlord, you’re sure to make a few mistakes along the way, even if you’ve done your research and connected with other landlords to learn the ins and outs of the business.
Even landlords with experience aren’t perfect and may have some slip-ups from time to time. Every tenant experience is different, which means every lease that a landlord enters into could be an entirely new experience that they haven’t seen before.
Let’s take a look at the top 6 landlord mistakes to avoid in order to ensure greater success in your business.
1. Trusting Verbal Commitments over Written Ones
It’s good to feel like your current or potential tenant is trustworthy enough to get away without signing a lease agreement to live on your property.
However, no matter how much you trust your tenant or how well you know them, it’s crucial to get all of the terms of their tenancy in writing and signed by both of you to legally protect you in the event of miscommunication or breach of trust.
2. Neglecting Responsibilities to Their Tenants
Tenants in a rental property are responsible for making sure that all systems are being used properly and protecting the property from damage however they can. Conversely, landlords are responsible for a wide variety of repair and maintenance tasks and must perform any repairs in a timely manner according to the laws around tenants’ rights.
If you neglect the needs of your tenants, don’t communicate effectively with them, or fail to schedule a necessary repair in time, your tenant could have grounds to seek legal retribution. This is one of the costliest of the 6 landlord mistakes to avoid.
3. Delaying the Eviction Process
If you’ve determined that you need to evict a tenant for a legally sound reason, it’s important to carry out the eviction process in a quick and efficient manner. If you take too long to enforce eviction, your tenant may end up protected under squatter’s rights, making it even more difficult to legally remove them from the premises.
4. Not Using Marketing Strategies to Find Tenants
Out of the 6 landlord mistakes to avoid, one of the most underrated is ineffective marketing or no marketing tools used whatsoever to find a tenant. The better your marketing is in the tenant-finding process, the more likely you are to find the type of tenant you want.
This could include posting your property on multiple rental sites with high-def photos, detailed descriptions, and perhaps even discounts on the first month’s rent if they sign a lease within a certain time frame.
5. Failing to Thoroughly Screen a Tenant
One of the most crucial of the 6 landlord mistakes to avoid is improperly screening a tenant before entering a lease agreement.
Suppose that you rent to a new tenant only to find out that they have a criminal record or a history of missed rent payments. In that case, your only options will be to make it through your lease period or attempt an eviction, which can be a time-consuming and difficult process even when you have solid legal grounds on which to do so.
6. Not Being Financially Prepared
Being a landlord is a job, and like many self-employed positions, it requires some upfront costs to get started, as well as some maintenance costs to keep your property in good shape for your tenants.
If you don’t financially plan for maintenance expenses, you could barely break even or potentially lose money as a landlord. Make sure to plan for a specific portion of your tenant’s monthly rent to go toward maintenance and have a budget set aside for more costly repairs if need be.