Landlording & Rental Properties

How to Avoid Landlord Burnout: 5 Actionable Tips

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties
32 Articles Written

We all know that being a landlord is a 24-hour job. And we also know that — according to Murphy's Law — anything that can go wrong will, and if a series of events go wrong, they will do so in the worst possible sequence.

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Wow, do I sound like a pessimist right now? Whoops. I’m not trying to be a downer, I swear. I’m just making the (obvious) point that landlording can be a stressful job, especially if you’re dealing with:

1) An older house and/or a house that needs constant maintenance,

2) A shaky neighborhood that tends to attract rougher tenants,

3) A demanding full-time job or other responsibilities

That doesn’t mean that you should avoid rental property investing entirely. It just means that one of your chief responsibilities as a landlord is to manage your own sanity.

With that said, here are some tips for avoiding landlord burnout.

1) Get a Google Voice Number.

Set up a free phone number through Google Voice or a similar type of answering service. When your tenants call, let it go to voicemail. They’ll leave a message that you can deal with on your own time. Your tenants will learn that you won’t pick up the phone for every minor little detail.

Alternately, you can require that all service requests must be in writing, such as via email. Many people will hesitate to ask for something in writing unless it’s truly warranted. This also gives you a defense in case a tenant starts claiming that they made requests that you haven’t fulfilled.

One huge, huge caveat: if you do this, make sure your tenants have your “main” phone number that they can reach in the event of massive emergencies, like a burst pipe that’s flooding the house. You don’t want to delay learning about that problem for an hour or two!

Related: How to Be a Landlord: Top Ten Tips for Success

2) Have a Short List of People to Call

Who do you call when the pipes burst? When the toilet overflows? When a squirrel punctures a hole through the drywall?

As the landlord, the tenant expects you to have all the answers and to know how to fix every issue. But you’re just a regular person. You don’t necessarily know-it-all. But you need to manage the situation as though you do.

Chat with other investors in your area to get recommendations on general go-to handymen, plumbers and other repair people that you can call when your tenants contact you. Keep this “short list” saved in your phone so that you can speed-dial help as soon as you need it.

3) Consolidate Showings

Sick of always driving to the property to do showings? Consolidate your showings to certain days of the week. When prospective tenants call or email to inquire about seeing the property, tell them: “I do showings every Wednesday from 6 pm – 8 pm and every Saturday from 10 am – 12 noon.” This forces them to adapt to your schedule, and allows you to squeeze a lot of showings into a narrow block of time.

4) Prevent Legal Hassles

You'll sleep more easily at night if you know that you've followed legal procedures by-the-book. That means your leases, your security deposit handing and your tenant screening, among other things, should have well-documented (and defensible) procedures. Don't forget to buy a nice umbrella liability insurance policy, as well.

Devote some time to learning the laws in your area — an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of peace-of-mind.

5) Hire a Great Property Manager

If the previous four recommendations stress you out, hand the job to a property manager. But beware: you can’t just turn over the responsibility to a manager and then forget about it entirely. You need to “manage the manager.”

You'll need a competent, hardworking property manager who's skilled at their job — otherwise you'll lose even more money and time in the long-run.

Get recommendations from other investors in your area. See which managers they recommend. And don’t skimp on quality. I’d rather pay a high-priced property manager who is fantastic at her job than a cheap property manager who slacks off.

That said, don’t assume there’s always a direct correlation between price and quality. You might find bad managers who are also expensive, or you might find managers who work cheaply who are fantastic. But all other things being equal, choose quality over price when it comes to picking a property manager.


What other tips do you have for avoiding landlord burnout?

Photo: anieto2k

Paula Pant quit her 9-to-5 job, invested in 7 rental units, and traveled to 32 countries. Her blog, Afford Anything, shares how to shatter limits, build wealth and maximize life. (At AffordAnything...
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    Brandon Turner
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great article Paula, I know Google Voice is the lifeblood of my business! I have it set to ring both me and my resident manager, so I know when he’s not answering but I don’t have to hardly ever answer anymore. It’s awesome! Thanks!
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Thanks Brandon! Google Voice rocks! I just hired a property manager for one of my houses (the one that’s located furthest from where I live) and its AWESOME. I love not needing to do showings or collect applications.
    Replied over 7 years ago
    In one word “delegate”. As your cash flow grows move the unimportant work to others, eventually move the important work to others, and you have a perfect investment.
    Karen Rittenhouse
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great article, Paula. One thing I would add is – Manage the tenants, don’t let the tenants manage you. Have policies and procedures in writing. Go over them In Detail with every tenant as you sign the contracts, and have them initial that they’ve heard and understood each one. Then, STICK WITH YOUR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES. As soon as you make an exception, you’re doomed. They will bug you for exceptions to everything. My standard answer is, “I can’t make an exception because then I would have to do it for everyone or be found guilty of discrimination. Law is, the rule for one is the rule for all.” Tenants understand that statement, and it makes life much easier for everyone. To your landlording success!
    Vanessa Warwick
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Thanks for this article Paula. Being a landlord can be quite a lonely experience as we tend to work in isolation. That is why I believe both on-line and off-line networking is vital to avoid “burn out”. As “none of us is as smart as all of us”, we can support one another when problems arise, give advice, share tips, empathise etc etc. I find that mixing with other landlords is like getting a “vitamin injection” … it refreshes and revives me! Most landlords love to chat and share experiences so it helps to tap into this hive mind of knowledge and support.
    Steve Burgess
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great article Paula. Google voice is a great feature. Hiring a good property manager who works in their interest is a great decision a landlord can take. I agree with Karen. Don’t let the tenants rule you at any point of time.
    Christine Kwasny
    Replied over 7 years ago
    I’d also like to add: take advantage of tenant turn over. You usually know its coming, so why not fix stuff and do improvements at that time? You have free access to the place and stuff gets done on your schedule. I wish I had done more improvemts before renting one of my places since now they still need to be done but I have the added complication of coordinating with and not inconviencing the tenant.