Are virtual assistants useful to a landlord? Well, the list of things that a landlord has to do is enormous. Here’s a decent, but not perfect, summary. The short version looks like this:
- Acquire a property
- Get it ready to rent
- Market it
- Find a good applicant
- Move them in
- Collect rent
- Deal with maintenance/repair issues and emergencies
- Perform inspections
- Evict bad tenants
- Move the good ones out when they decide to leave
Of course, every one of these points can be broken up into several-to-dozens of tasks, and — here’s where most people’s eyebrows go up — every single one of these points can benefit from a virtual assistant’s, well, assistance. Let’s go over this point by point and see how.
10 Tasks Your Virtual Assistant Can Help You Out With
Acquiring New Property
Finding a good property is also something you definitely want to make a final decision on yourself — but most of the stuff leading up to the final decision can be process-ized and turned over to your virtual assistants. Teach them to seek out signs of up-and-coming neighborhoods (i.e. trendy new businesses opening), how to run the numbers, how to figure out if a particular home is likely to be profitable, and so on. Then have your VAs submit their conclusions to you for you to look over, do your own research, and decide upon the one you think is your next solid acquisition.
Get It Ready to Rent
Some of you are probably thinking, “Doesn’t this just involve contractors and/or handyman work?” Nope! It does involve quite a bit of that (which, again, you usually want to be in-person for), but it also involves getting the property inspected by the city, acquiring a rental license, and getting the utilities hooked up. Virtual assistants can handle all those tasks — and, actually, can even take over a part of the contacting and scheduling the contractors if they have the people skills.
Admittedly, not many VAs have the verbal flair (in English at least) to write a good property advertisement, but that still leaves a lot that they can do. Researching rental prices, collecting specifics on the home from Internet sources like the tax assessor’s office, the local MLS, and so on, and of course taking the ad you craft (or have professionally crafted) and posting it on whatever online channels you’re using — all of these are easy additions to your VA’s to-do list.
Find a Good Applicant
Tenant screening is one of the most important parts of success as a landlord — and fortunately, if you trust them with a little of your money, it’s something that a VA can easily assist you with. Much like with finding a property in the first place, you definitely want to retain responsibility for finding the tenant of choice yourself.
Allowing your virtual assistants to gather the materials (credit report, criminal background, debt calculations, and so on), highlighting any critical items that appear and harvesting the contact information for the applicant’s referrals, former landlords, and so on will save you a mountain of time and help you focus on the important parts.
Move Them In
There’s admittedly not a lot that a VA can do during the actual move-in process. However, “not a lot” doesn’t mean “nothing.” Virtual assistants can still take the documentation you create of all of the existing problems with a home (hopefully, this comes in written note, video, and photographic form), input it all into a database, and then store it in a secure place until you need to double-check it when that tenant moves out. They can also process a scanned lease and update whatever software system you may be using.
Collecting rent is the easy part, except when the rent doesn’t come. Your VA can keep track of which tenants have paid and get in touch with the ones who are overdue to find out why. They can also, if you’re the type who feels it necessary, research the tenants’ stories about why the rent is late.
Deal With Maintenance/Repair Issues & Emergencies
This is again a situation where virtual assistants can only take care of the background parts — but that’s still useful! By being your point of contact and filtering requests into emergency/critical/important/minor and keeping you in the loop, VAs can help you decide when you need to call which experts to step in. And by accepting and processing the paperwork associated with each contractor’s job(s), they can save you an hour’s work every time you call on outside help.
Obviously, someone needs to be on-site in person to conduct a proper inspection, but your VA can do the setup. Teach them to see when a scheduled inspection is upcoming, contact the tenant 48 hours in advance (or whatever your local law and common courtesy dictate), and possibly even have them schedule the inspection with whoever is going to be performing it. Then teach them to accept and process all of the paperwork that comes out of each inspection.
Evict Bad Tenants
This is probably where VAs are the least useful, as the eviction process absolutely requires personal attention, legal expertise, and a careful hand — or so you’d think. But the eviction process also requires as much evidence as you can muster of the tenant’s failings — and your virtual assistants are just the people to go through all of your old records and create a report of all of the things the tenant has done wrong in the past and all of the communications the tenant has had with the company. (You are recording every exchange with every tenant, right?)
Move Tenants Out
Much like evictions, the move-out process involves your VA going through and finding all of the information that’s relevant and packaging it up for you in a nice, easy-to-use report. The information from the move-in, the information on any repairs or maintenance requests that are still outstanding or left scars behind, and the record of any parts of the security deposit already spent need to be available to you, so have them get it together. They can also deal with the documenting of security deposit spends after the move-out and even with getting the remainder of the deposit back to the tenant in a timely manner.
In short, being a landlord (or at least landlording well) involves a vast amount of paperwork. Everything you do generates paper, and every paper needs to be processed, annotated, recorded, stored, fetched back later, and usually annotated and stored again after that. The paperwork alone is enough to keep you from holding down a 9-5 job — which means it’s a perfect 9-5 job for a virtual assistant to give you a hand with.
Just remember your core concepts along with your task lists, and you, too, can hold down a job and landlord over a few-to-several homes, with the help of a few-to-several virtual assistants.
Do you outsource any of these tasks to a VA? What would you add to this list?
Let me know with a comment!