Are You the Best Landlord in Town

19 Replies

I publicly claim to be the best landlord in Sacramento. The statement is true, but sadly no other landlord has bothered to challenge me. Living the code with integrity is tough. Tonight I have a sore back to prove it.

Am I alone in this? Are you willing to advertise you're the best landlord in town?

By best landlord what do you mean? Sounds like you're moving furniture for your tenants. So by best do you mean you provide the highest level of personal service? How much money per hour do you make blowing out your back?

By best landlord, I would say you are able to get above market rents, attract long term tenants and have the lowest vacancy and bad debt rates. Is that you?

I don't want to be "the best landlord." My goals are a middling rental unit needing minimal upkeep and doing reasonable preventative maintenance, filled with decent tenants who pay their rent, stay awhile, who get along, and don't tax my energy too much.

This is simply a business. It isn't a popularity or self esteem contest and I don't get the point of this thread nor see the need for arrogance rather than humility.

@Aaron Mazzrillo thanks for chiming in. I was doing a quick repair under a sink. Your definition of "best" was from a landlord's point of view. My message is to current and potential tenants who, as you know, don't care about my vacancy rates, but may pay a small premium for my brand.

@Ken Latchers yes it’s all about perspective. You bringing up the terms arrogance and humility, I think gets at the heart of the matter. Most businesses are proud of their customer service and typically appreciate contact and communication with their customers. I think conventional wisdom on being a landlord has a different take on this.

Popularity, beyond being firm but fair with tenants, hurts NOI, but popularity with neighbors and community helps NOI.

I agree it's a business, but I enjoy reframing and innovating. Landlords can do so much more to create additional income streams and reduce expenses, but it seems like the majority doesn't even try.

I don't have to - I have already had potential tenants call me because they asked code enforcement, and code enforcement gave them my contact info. No further proof necessary IMO.

Yes. Just ask my tenants and my CPA. It helps that I love what I do, get to work with great people, and have tenants that are responsible and nice.

Good for you @Al Williamson , @Steve Babiak , and T Ferrante.

When you love what you do, you’ll be great at it, and visa-versa. I applaud arrogance and an abundance of self-esteem when you run your own business. These are not dirty words-- embrace them.

While it’s most important to be happy, however you choose to run your business, I personally believe this behavior also maximizes profits. Not a bad dividend.


T Ferrante and @Steve Babiak Wow - I'm glad you two aren't in my market! Sounds like you're bucking the status quo and living the code. My tenants introduce me as the best landlord in Sacramento - I'm trying to leverage that title to create a wait list.

What are you doing to capitalize on your celebrity? Can you convert it to cash?

I like your approach, Al! I don't know if I am the best in my area but I am almost certainly one of the best. It's about customer service and having a product you can be proud of. I've been in this business a few years now. My take.... bad landlords are a worse problem than bad tenants. (I'm sure many of them really watch that bottom line.) Thanks for doing your part to give "landlording" a good name.

It's certainly an interesting approach. I'll be interested in your thoughts 5 perhaps 10 years down the road. I know many talk about best practices, but really the most successful are the innovative soles that think outside of the box.

I want my tenants to consider me the best landlord they have ever had. I provide quality housing at slightly below market rents, I am very clear with my tenant on what I expect from them, I try to make reasonable accommodations for the various situations my tenants are in, and I respond to maintenance requests quickly.

As for converting this into cash, I think if my tenants regard me as the "best landlord" they will likely stay longer in my properties and potentially refer others to me as well. The savings from reduced turnover and filling vacancies faster is where I will see the financial return.

I agree with the point above about landlords often having a different take on customer service than other businesses. I think it is because the landlord business is a longer term and more involved customer relationship. Also, landlords must always keep in mind to potential losses from a tenant who stops paying and/or damages the property. These concerns are what cause landlords to think too often of tenants as enemies instead of allies in this business.

Charles Perkins I think 10 years down the line, a landlord who tries to become publically known for providing the best customer service and housing will consequently create tension on nearby landlords. They will naturally be compared against the standard bearer and feel pressure to up their game.

So, I'm betting what some call "arrogance" will be a transformative force that betters a community.

Al, You sound like a very positive guy which is great, but only in a perfect world will that be your competitors' response.
In the real world, they are more likely to try to bad mouth you to potential tenants or vandalize your property to knock you down a peg or 2.
Most of them don't care if they are a good landlord, they simply want to make the most money. Just do what you do and don't worry about them or expect to change them.

@Al Williamson I see that you have been a landlord for quiet some time and I visited your blog. I like your perspective on being a landlord and you certainly have some creative ideas for generating additional revenue.

My first thoughts when reading this topic was that you might be a new landlord with a great idea. It seems though that you have been at this for many years, so my first impressions are probably wrong.

I'm wondering then what you mean by being the best. It seems you have some innovative ideas. I also sense that you care about your tenants.

My experience though has been that you can get to close to a tenant. I want my tenants to like and respect me, but a tenant that becomes a "friend" can lead to tougher business decisions. When your friend gets laid off do you give them a pass on late charges? Financial relationships can become difficult when dealing with friends and relatives.

I try to be concerned about my tenants. Try to provide a sound place to live. I also look at ways that might make sense to improve a property. It is just my experience that you can carry this concern to far.

I would love to hear more about your experiences and what you mean by "Best Landlord" because I think I might misunderstand where you are coming from. In concept it sounds great.

@Eric M. thanks for chiming in. I agree with you - don't try to change other landlords. My PR effort is aimed at attracting the best tenants possible for my area. If successful, the marketplace will have its way.

I do, however, think it would be awesome for another landlord to vandalize/take me down a peg. That would only help my cause.

I previously organized a cleanup after a fellow activist landlord had their property vandalized. That fueled a neighborhood rally that led to the drug dealer's, who committed the crime, arrest and conviction. Neighbors packed the court for the sentencing.

We've acted in similarly to rid our area of liquor stores and reduce prostitution. These acts were lead by overly positive people - who taught and inspired me. It only takes one fanatic to change the "real world". We can do more good than we can think!

Charles Perkins thanks for giving me a chance to clarify. My ideas and suggestions are intended to be added on top of the best management practices of landlording. Those BMPs are the foundation but shouldn't cap our imaginations.

I'm currently fascinated with how landlords can increase their equity by working outside their property boundaries. I'm experimenting with neighboring landlords to reduce expenses and make our block even nicer. Self interest in a powerful force - I'm trying to harness it. I'll report back whether successful or not.

hm..this is a tough one..not so sure i want my tenants calling me the best landlord in town..bc that'll just mean i'm the biggest SUCKER in town! they only like you til they're out of money.then you're the jerk...i've had tenants yell at me things like "i'm only one month act like i'm a few months behind!"...or i remember the one tenant, who yelled at me "what kind of @sshole evicts before christmas?!" no, i don't care if thoes people think i'm the landlord in town..i provide a clean, durable apartment that meets code at a fair, market price...i think that's good enoughfor me to sleep at night...for whatit's worth, i do have tenants that refer their friends/family to me, and i've had code officers call me to buy certain properties, so i guess word does get around a bit that i'm fair and i make repairs in a timely manner..but do i really care at the end of the day?? not so much, bc most tenants will turn on you the second they're out of money

@Account Closed with the power vested in me, I now deem you "best landlord in town."

You bring up an interesting point. It is dangerous to publicly wear your new title. The upside - code enforcement wants you to expand and diligent tenants hunt you down. The downside is that it upsets the status quo and exposing you to more tenant manipulation (I have personally survived a public smear campaign - it nearly consumed me).

If you chose to carry the flag, and I hope you will, I believe it be one additional thing that helps you learn, grow and sleep even better at night.

I suppose it depends on how "best" is defined. Providing quality housing at fair rates and treating tenant professionally is one thing, not enforcing late fees and letting tenants violate the lease is another. I try to be fair to my tenants, but I don't waive late fees and I send pay or quit notices promptly.

Welcome to the era of YELP, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s only a matter of time before landlords are scored by their tenants just like other businesses. We’ll have public profiles linked to Google maps and visible to anyone viewing our Padmapper and Craigslist ads. My original question will be frequently asked (and answered) by our future tenant-customers. Let’s not be caught flat-footed.