What have been your game changers?

38 Replies

Those of you who have been landlords for years, what have been some of your game changers so to speak? craigslist? kwikset smart key locks? online tenant screening?

The absense of carpet

James, this is exactly what my husband I were discussing last night. I think we're going to try using the tile that looks like hardwood the next time we have to take out carpet.

Professional management! Such a weight off my shoulders, so much more energy and enthusiasm back for investing.

moving away from kwickset smart locks.

buying houses that people want - WITH garage AND a basement.

Originally posted by @George P. :
moving away from kwickset smart locks.

buying houses that people want - WITH garage AND a basement.

George, we have also been more selective about the properties we buy, so as to attract better tenants, and (hopefully) have fewer headaches.

Why have you moved away from Kwikset Smart Key Locks? We were just going to try this on our next lock change- so I am very interested to know what issues you had with them.

read the reviews on amazon also on here. i have 5 houses that have them and different keys open the locks, the "correct" key opens the deadbolt, but not the lock, tenants get locked out, etc. etc.

it's an amazing concept and easy to use, but not 100% accurate.

I love my master key system. A locksmith set me up with 5 different locks that I can rotate and my master key will open all of them so I only have 1 key on my keyring that opens all properties without searching for the right key. I even bought the padlocks you can key to match my master key to use on air conditioner cages so I won't need to find padlock keys when a/c's need serviced or replaced in the future.

The locksmith also gave me the tip to use passage knobs instead of locking handle knobs. It's too easy for a tenant to lock themselves out with locking handles and they really don't provide much security. I would say it's impossible to lock yourself out with just a deadbolt, but I'm sure a tenant will figure a way some day :-) He told me the story of an apartment complex which was dealing with a high number of break ins. He suggested they switch to passage knobs instead of locking knobs and the break ins dropped to zero. Apparently tenants would kick their own door in and turn it in as a break in so the landlord would have to pay to fix the door instead of the tenant paying to be let back in when locked out.

A strong comprehensive lease which I sit down and go over with the tenants before any one signs. Every time something minor has happened. I add it! My issues over time have gone down to almost nothing. Having everything in writing really is a lifesaver.

@Bob Hines

I love the pass through door knob idea. I was checking at my home depot today and all I could find for passthrough door knobs were ones for indoor hall and closets. I am thinking indoor locks may rust if outside.

What type of passthrough door knobs do you use?

@John H.

Here is what I found online. I think I'll just pick up an interior closet door knob. Great idea Bob Hines! Thanks for sharing it.

Hi Angie,

I'm with James on the absence of carpet.

With Jean on the professional management (except I'm looking forward to that day - but already have the relationship)

With George on Kwikset anything!

With Bob on the passage knobs and deadbolts only. And we went to Schlage key less entry deadbolts and love them. Had one on a laundry room for 5 years with never an issue and finally started putting them on the units. they are a little expensive but, now (at turnarounds) I can change a lock code in about 30 seconds, give my tenants there own code, put a temporary code on and then remove it for contractors and always get in a unit without needing a key.

With Elizabeth on the leases!

And finally, years ago we set up individual accounts for each of our units with a local credit union, which is everywhere in our area, so our tenants just deposit to their account and keep the deposit slip as their receipt. We know this system won't work on a large scale but we're not that big yet. The beauty of this is checking rent payment on the 1st, from anywhere there's wi-fi.

One of the important things for me has been to be money minded and take emotions out of being a landlord. Treat it like a business and everything else falls in place.

I agree with @Sharad M. Its easy to get emotionally triggered by event. Maintenance calls, vacancies yada yada. But when I started thinking of it as a business and managing it as such, its all just about the numbers.

1. Taking high-res pictures then enhancing them for my marketing of vacant homes.

2. Taking out carpet and high-traffic areas and replacing with Traffic Master laminate hardwood floor. It is more durable and opens up the room.

3. Investing in neighborhoods where I get at least $1000 a month in rent.

4. Installing nice decorative ceiling fans in living room and master bedroom.

5. Ceramic tile in kitchen and bath.

6. Landscaping my vacant homes.

Like someone said earlier - hiring a professional PM.

Hiring a staff to deal with the bs. No carpet was good too, the drum sander is a great invention.

@John H. I always purchased the knobs that were at the locksmith shop thinking they were special. I just replaced the interior knobs in a new property and the ones from the locksmith seem very similar in finish and construction to the hall & closet ones from Menards. I can't guarantee they are the same but from my untrained eye they are the same. I'm going to try the hall & closet next time and see how they work.

I strongly suggest y'all look at landlordlocks. Ernie is a great guy and his stuff actually works well.

All of the suggestions are great and I employ most of them. However what really changed 2014 for me was purchasing a trailer off craigslist. I currently do much of my remodeling on my own. Purchasing a trailer to haul trash, appliances, cabinets, etc has saved me a ton of time and money.

Definitely agree with the PM and no carpet.  Will have to investigate the door locks :)  Nice!

Lockless handles are great, we use those.

Also we use good locks, schlagues. None of the cheapy ones like defiant. They break all the time.

@Sharad M.   had a good comment about removing emotion.

Another huge game changer for me is when we bought our own key machine. Saves so much time from having to go to H-Depot every time a key needs made.

For people not using carpet any longer, what do you put upstairs and on the stairs?

Researching old threads and found this.. great thread

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