There is no question, being a landlord has a certain stigma that is hard to overcome. Many people have had, or have heard of, bad experiences dealing with a disreputable landlord myself included. I’m here to tell you that not all landlords are out to make your life hard, make repairs only when legal habitability is at question, or keep you from getting your security deposit back. I’ve heard horror stories of some pretty awful living conditions that some landlords seemed to think were perfectly acceptable. As a landlord I take pride in providing nice rental homes for my tenants and would never leave one of my rental properties in disrepair. My thought is if you keep a property well maintained the tenants are more likely to take good care of it. As a young adult I never would have imagined that I would own rental properties and be a landlord. I had a good friend who took me under there wing, so to speak, and taught me the ins and outs of being a real estate investor and landlord and I think that it’s a really great way to accumulate wealth and diversify an investment portfolio.
As I eluded to above, not all landlords are ill-intentioned individuals, but enough are that a stereotype has been formed about those of us in that profession. Landlords suffer from the reputation of being uncaring, heavy handed, and greedy. The “poor me” and the “everyone’s out to get me” mindset that is so prominent among the last couple generations of people really lends itself to these ideas about landlords. Of course landlords are not the only profession with a bad reputation. What images or ideas do the professions, Used Car Salesman, IRS Agent, or Politician bring to mind? It’s human nature for our brains to organize people and things into certain categories or stereotypes but it is always important to check yourself and remember that no two people are the same.
On the other hand, it’s no wonder that landlords can fall into some of the stereotypical rolls, with tenants who lack respect for property, the government and legislatures that assume that landlords are taking advantage of the poor and want to ensure tenants have a place to live regardless if they pay rent. The good news is that there is another way to be a landlord without adopting some of the less desirable attributes of some landlords. By having a good balance of authority and business-like professionalism backed by a bullet proof lease and tenant criteria you can rise above the stereotype.
Basic Rules of Landlording:
- You are in control, you own the house and you make the rules (in the form of a well-written lease).
- Don’t befriend a tenant and don’t rent to a friend. Mixing your business and personal life is a big no-no
- Maintain a position of authority, be self confident and stand your ground.
- The rules are the rules, follow them and don’t bend them ever.
- Keep good records, everything must be in writing. You can’t evict someone or win a court case without proper documentation.
- Keep your cool and act professionally regardless the situation.
- Praise good tenants, let them know you appreciate the care they give your house.
- Stay on top of new laws and adapt your lease as you go.
- Learn from your mistakes, adapt, and move on.
- Screen your tenants carefully and be picky, you don’t want to be stuck with a bad tenant.