Landlording & Rental Properties

Are You Cut Out to Be a Landlord? 5 Qualities You Need!

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties
32 Articles Written

Here’s a hard pill to swallow:

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Not everybody is cut out to be a landlord.

Yeah, that’s right.

I said it.

Some people were born to landlord. Their personality fits with landlording like … like … peanut butter fits with jelly. (Lame analogy, I know. But who doesn't love PB&J?!)

Other personality styles, however, might be better suited in a different field.

Are you cut out for this job?

Let’s find out. Here are the top five qualities that every landlord needs:


Being a landlord is often an experience of “hurry up and wait.”

Months will stretch by with relative peace and quiet. Nothing will happen. Checks will roll in, and life will be grand.

You’ll feel as peaceful as a cat napping in the sun. Zzzzz.

Then in the blink of an eye, fate will turn.  Your roof will collapse, a tree will crash onto your driveway, and you’ll have to file a nasty eviction. Hey, and did a fire just break out in your basement?

Suddenly, you’re in crisis control mode. You have to act quickly, make decisions swiftly and put out the fire (sometimes literally.)

2. Peace with Financial Volatility.

Landlording is a financially volatile experience. When your units have full occupancy and you don’t have to deal with any major repairs or maintenance tasks, you’ll be riding high.

In other months, however, you’ll get hit with a spate of expenses …. all at the same time.

You may need to replace the roof, water heater and windows, all in the same month.

You'll simultaneously need to foot the mortgage bill through an extended vacancy.

Oh yeah, and in your personal life, your cat’s sick. She ate a PB&J sandwich. Now you need to pay an expensive veterinary bill.

Success as a landlord relies in large part upon your emotional strength to deal with this type of income volatility.  It also depends on your ability to recognize that long-term big-ticket items, such as replacing a roof, are not necessarily a setback. Now you have a new roof, after all, which (in theory) will serve you for the next 25 years.

3. A Sharp B.S. Detector.

There is no kind way to say this:  You are going to hear a ton of BS excuses.

Even if you hire somebody else to manage your property, you are still going to be on the receiving end of BS explanations. They’ll come from your tenants, your contractors and sometimes even the people who you hire to be property managers.

A sharp BS detector is a necessary quality for any aspiring landlord, but don’t worry: If you have a reputation for being gullible, you’ll quickly develop a B.S. detector after just a few months on the job.

4. Patience.

You may have to look at 100 houses before you find one that’s an awesome deal.

If you run out of patience while searching for the next property, you run the risk of buying something just because you’re frustrated with the whole search. In other words, you run the risk of buying the wrong house due to your emotional impulses.

Your success as a landlord hinges on your ability to restrain that impulse.  You must maintain the patience to look at dozens or hundreds of houses — sinking hundreds of hours into the process — before you find one that is worth devoting your time, energy and attention towards.

5. Optimism.

Home prices rise and fall — sometimes quite drastically, as recent years have shown us.

If you are a landlord, however, you are a long-term investor. Emphasis on “long-term.”

You need to develop the optimism to smile through those years (yes, years) in which your home value has declined, or rent in your area has dropped, or vacancies in your area have risen.

Obviously it’s important to be realistic and to make a sober, analytical assessment of the market. Duh.

But you need enough optimism (or should I call it “risk tolerance”?) that you won’t panic during a down market. (And let’s face it: the majority of people panic during down markets.)

So call this quality anything you want: optimism, risk tolerance, a long-term perspective. I don’t care what you call it. I only care that you possess it — and that it withstands the test of down markets, high vacancies and other unpleasantries.

Good luck. If you need me, I’ll be napping in the sun.

Related: How to be a Landlord: Ten Tips for Success

Photo Credit: Soul Pusher

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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    Replied almost 7 years ago
    You are SO right! I could give examples of every one of those! Great article.
    Priscila Argaez
    Replied almost 7 years ago
    Paula, great article! Anyone who aspires to be a landlord needs those 5 qualities. You got to like real estate and the ups and downs of owning a property. I bought my first property when I was only 18 years old, and being a landlord has definitely been an interesting experience!
    Replied almost 7 years ago
    “Long term”, makes everything ok, too high a price paid? Throw 30 years at it. Eviction? Throw a couple of months at it and it will be history. B.S. detector will catch them coming in the door.
    Replied almost 7 years ago
    “Long term”, makes everything ok, too high a price paid? Throw 30 years at it. Eviction? Throw a couple of months at it and it will be history. B.S. detector will catch them coming in the door.
    Sharon Tzib
    Replied almost 7 years ago
    Great list, and if I may add one more, it would be “Professionalism.” When you are a landlord, you need to remember you are running a business. As such, it is up to you to know and follow the landlord/tenant laws; to be organized and keep excellent financial records so you can take advantage of all the many tax advantages being a REI affords you, as well as understand if you are profitable or not, and if not, how to reverse that; and to assemble and surround yourself with a team that embraces the same professional standards you do and can add to your REI success.
    Sharon Vornholt
    Replied almost 7 years ago
    This is so true Paula. Being a landlord is not for everyone. You can hire a property manager, or just be OK with the fact that you don’t want to do it. There are other ways those folks can make money in real estate. Sharon
    Jean Bolger
    Replied almost 7 years ago
    Having a strong authoritarian streak is helpful too ( i.e. “this is how it’s done, so do it this way or else..”) I don’t have this. Finding a talented property manager (who did) was one of my smartest business decisions ever.