Anyone can buy a few rental properties and call themselves a landlord. In fact, many people do just that. Then, after a couple of years and a couple of bad tenants, they begin to wonder why they even thought about getting into the business at all. Landlording can be a tough business. Many people start out thinking it is going to be easy. It is not. It can take a lot of effort, and it takes someone who either has or has developed certain traits to become an effective, successful landlord. So what makes an effective landlord? Here are my top 5 traits for success.
The 5 Non-Negotiable Traits of Highly Effective Landlords
Effective landlords learn to screen their tenants well.
This is perhaps the number one thing that a landlord has to do and become very good at. Is some ways, one almost has to become a detective to put the pieces of the puzzle together and get a clear picture of who wants to live in your property. Credit and criminal background checks are of course a major component here, but so are many other items. These items can include things like neatness, promptness, accuracy, truthfulness and politeness.
Do you really want someone moving into your property who is rude to you? Do you want someone who has food spilled down the front of their shirt? No, you do not. Learn to read between the lines on the reports you get and learn to read the tell-tale signs from the people you interview. This can be difficult at first, but it is a skill that can be learned. Whatever you do, do not take the first warm body that comes along just to get the unit filled. You are asking for disaster.
Effective landlords resolve problems.
Properties and tenants come with problems. Properties have neighboring properties. Their occupants can often create all sorts of problems, from boundary disputes to parking issues to trash. Tenants are of course human and thus can come with all sorts of problems that can make their way into your life, especially if their problems prevent them from paying the rent. Your job as a landlord is perhaps not to solve all of these problems but to contain and minimize them. Usually this means simply talking to people. You cannot put your head in the sand and expect problems and issues to go away. You may need to put out a trash can, stripe parking spaces, offer cash for keys or move a tenant to another property. Be creative and civil, and most will be amazed at your problem solving powers.
Effective landlords fix things.
Properties simply need to be fixed from time to time because unfortunately nothing lasts forever. Both tenant use and mother nature simply cause things to wear out. The truth of the matter here is you are going to have to spend the money to fix things if you want to keep an acceptable amount of money coming in. The more you let things remain in disrepair, the more your good tenants will move, and you will have a harder and harder time replacing them. I hate to spend the money too, but you have to see the big picture to keep the cash flowing in.
Effective landlords are resilient.
No matter how well you run your landlording business, bad things are going to happen. Most of the time, these things will be small, but there will be times when the bad things just don’t seem to stop. A tenant will go south on you. A major fire will happen — or perhaps a flood. An employee will break your trust and steal. Something will go wrong. You can either let these things get you down or you can learn from them and keep moving forward. It is not always easy to do, and honestly if you need to take and afternoon off and sit at home eating ice cream, then by all means, do it. But you’ve got to bounce back and look in the mirror and ask how you could have prevented the situation and how to prevent it in the future.
Effective landlords take a stand.
An effective landlord knows and understands when it is time to stand up and not take it anymore. It might involve going to eviction court. It might be standing up to local elected officials over a tax increase or rental inspection program. It might be just enforcing the rules at your properties or dealing with an overly demanding tenant. Most everything in this world is about give and take, but there are simply times when enough is enough. There are times when you have to stand and make that clear.
So there you have it. Effective landlords are resilient screeners who fix things, solve problems and know when to take a stand. Does this describe you? If not, do not worry too much. It did not necessarily describe me either when I got started ,which goes to show that a) these traits can be learned and b) you likely have a lot more inside of you than you think. You just have not had to use it yet.
Landlords: What traits would you add to this list?
Let me know with a comment!
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.