Landlords are no different than the rest of us, who dream of going on vacation and taking a break from the day to day. But owning and managing rental properties comes with certain responsibilities that can make taking even a short time off seem impossible.
The truth is, with proper preparation, landlords can find a relaxing hiatus from tenant phone calls, lease renewals and rent collection, just like every professional does before going on vacation. Landlords need to have a trusted replacement that is prepped for managing emergent and non-emergent rental issues while away and a plan for handling any true emergencies from afar.
To put your mind at ease as for any upcoming travel, here are a few steps to help prepare for a much needed landlord vacation.
Find A Trusted Replacement
You need to have a go-to person in charge of handling tenant and property issues while away. Your replacement should be trusted to manage all issues appropriately and timely, as to protect your tenant relationships and maintain your properties. Depending on the length of your vacation, the tasks required of your temporary replacement should be minimal but they need to prepared to handle urgent tenant phone calls in case any issues pop-up.
Consider asking a trusted relative, an experienced friend, or another landlord (maybe exchange vacation time!) to be your replacement. Bonus points for finding a replacement familiar with basic landlord-tenant responsibilities, giving you confidence that they understand the severity and need of prioritizing tenant requests, documenting communication appropriately and protecting the property.
If you choose to hire a maintenance vendor (like your favorite handyman) or other unknown source to manage your units while away, make sure they have undergone your vendor background screening in case something were to happen, you can demonstrate that you had made a diligent effort before handing over keys to someone.
Wrap Up All Current Projects
It is never a good idea to take a vacation in the middle of an important project. Take extra care to wrap up loose ends and finalize any outstanding issues. Avoid taking vacation during turnover, or when your occupancy rates are low and you are looking for new tenants. You should also consider scheduling vacation time after the beginning of the month, in order to save your replacement from having to manage rent collection, check deposits, or non-payment of rent.
Create a Maintenance Priority Checklist
Clearly communicate what constitutes an emergent and non-emergent maintenance issue with your replacement. Have your replacement understand the importance of contacting emergency maintenance vendors for things like water leaks, gas leaks, electrical issues or broken HVAC systems (especially in winter). Essentially anything that puts your tenants or the property in danger needs to be handled right away.
Non-emergent issues like a closet door that got off the track or a sink that drains slowly can be scheduled when you return. Your replacement needs to know the right way to communicate with your tenants for when and how their maintenance request will be managed.
Give your Vendors a Heads Up
Let your go-to maintenance vendors know you will be out of town and your replacement will be contacting them with any issues. Provide your vendors with written approval that your replacement has the authority to create work orders and schedule maintenance as needed.
Alternatively, give your replacement a list of preferred vendors and who to contact regarding different types of maintenance requests. You should also give your replacement backups in case your number 1 vendor is unavailable.
Inform Your Tenants
You need to provide your tenants with the contact information for your replacement while you are on vacation. Let your tenants know you are going out of town and your replacement will be available for all rental related issues. Now is a good time to remind your tenants about what constitutes as emergency maintenance issues, and that you appreciate their patience and understanding for any delay of non-emergent requests.
*Pro Tip: Avoid giving tenants your contact information of where you will be on vacation—let them know that if they need you for any reason to go through the contact person first.
Prep Your Replacement
Your replacement will need to have certain information in order to properly manage your properties while you are away. Consider creating a secure file for your replacement to access with relevant data regarding your tenants, vendors and properties. Remind your replacement about the importance of keeping tenant information secure and private. (Never give your temporary replacement access to highly secure tenant information like credit reports used for screening purposes.)
Provide your Replacement with the Following Information:
- A list of each tenant’s rental unit, name and phone number (group roommates together and highlight the primary contact for each unit)
- A list of preferred vendors and contact information with details about who to contact for what types of jobs (ex. plumber, electrician, locksmith)
- Petty Cash or Business Credit Card for workorders
- Instructions for depositing rent checks (if needed)
- Your contact information while on vacation
- A notebook to record all interactions, communications and incidents with tenants, vendors and the property
- Anything unique to your properties that your replacement might need to know, like alarm codes
- A print out of property rules if the replacement is staying onsite
- Keys to each unit for emergency situations
- Reminder of basic landlord-tenant laws regarding rights to enter, communication guidelines, etc.
Following these simple steps will ensure that proper preparation is in place for you take a stress free vacation. With the right guidance, your temporary replacement will be able to manage your properties and tenants easily, giving you the break you have been craving this holiday season.