Landlord hacks ( what do you do make your life easier)

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As you scroll through fackbook or other sites you see various life hacks about cooking, landscaping, etc. I want this post to be about landlord hacks( what are some simple tricks you use to make your life easier as a landlord). 

1. I only use deadbolt locks on doors ( and  non locking handle) because it prevents tenants from locking themselves out. 

2. I buy a years worth of air filter for a property because the tenant will forget to buy the air filters and change them. 

3. I only buy 2br/1ba houses to lower the chance of hoarding and stairs. 

I'm interested in what you 

@Shane Craig

1.) Get houses on master key system

2.) Hide a lockbox at every house

3.) Use a PM software (cozy, buildum, appfolio).  My most recent example of this, is I was signing a lease with a new tenant while waiting in line for the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios.

4.) Send all new tenants a New Tenant Guidebook that highlights key processes in our system.  

I am also a fan of 2br/1ba! 1) I don't think they'll be as hard to resell in the future as millennials enter the market. We as a generation do not favor larger houses. 2) Fewer tenants. 3) The house costs significantly less than 3br, but rents are not proportionately lower. I LOVE your lock idea! 


The small change that has made the largest difference for me was separating my rental income from my personal income. I didn't think I need to prior to 3 units, but I should have done it as soon as I got my second. Now I truly see how my rentals affect my finances, and it's that much more motivating! 

Great topic! Thanks for starting!

Couple of the things that have made my life easier as an owner and property manager:

  • Listed out tenant qualifications in our application process
  • Created reminders to do routine checks on properties (check HVAC, clean gutters, etc.)
  • Leveraged property management software (we use Buildium)

Thanks again for starting the conversation!

Here it goes!

  1. Open a 'rent' checking account and allow tenants to deposit into it (but set up transfers so the account always has a $0 balance). This allows tenants to pay with cash or check at any of the bank locations without having them (or yourself) incur any transaction fees.
  2. Use quarterly air filter changes as an excuse to inspect all of your properties. (best $4 investment possible)
  3. Give tenants a standard repair cost sheet during the lease signing. This way they will not be surprised by what they get charged when they move out.
  4. Don't get in a rush to rent out a unit... wait for the best qualified tenant.
  5. It is cheaper, and quicker, to pay someone to leave a unit than try to evict them.
  6. Get a few Google Voice numbers (they are free) to use for different tenant purposes.. emergency, general questions, general maintenance. That way you can block out all after hour calls/texts that are not to the emergency line and set up the numbers to forward depending on your schedule.

-- Security cameras that run on solar panels. I use the Reolink Argus 2. While the image quality is good, I wish it would do a much better job at "waking up" when there's activity. The technology is getting a lot better. It requires wifi, but luckily one of my tenants gave me access to theirs. It has halved my urge/need to visit the properties because I can check up on them on my phone. 

-- Having a storage unit, garage or half-garage for landlord's use. They're great as a command center where I store my tools and random stuff I need to service the property. Each has at least a small bed or comfy couch, and lots of bottled water. 

Ohh man, ya'll really prefer a 2/1 SFR to a 3/1 SFR? Gonna have to disagree on that one. Additional bedroom really increases the rental rates.

Buy local, self manage, 1 business checking account, 1 umbrella policy, 1 LLC, 1 spreadsheet, Cozy, tenant selection calculus, M2M leases, trusted contractors. Just too easy.

I have multiple duplexes on the same street. An older single tenant lets me use one of the bays in the two garage for storage. I give her a $25 dollar rent break per month.

I go to yard sales and buy lots of items I use on my properties ( outlets,paint, tools, lumber, pipe etc.) 

I also buy and change out the filters. Lets me see what's happening inside.

Since all the properties are on the same block, I have my properties on one insurance policy. So if I have to replace roofs, I have one lower deductible than 4-5 separate.

Tenants direct deposit and I have an account for each address. I can log into bank and see who paid and when. I leave the deposit in the account (deemed escrow) and move the balance into the parent company account. They get a receipt from the bank with their deposit.

The property owners host a bi-yearly trash day. We use out trucks and trailer and tenants leave there crap on the curb. We pick it up and haul it off. We do this spring and fall because most people move at those times. When needed we help each other clean out units also.

We also set up a neighbor watch and do cookouts so they get to know each other. This goes well a about 90% of the time. 

Great Forum looking forward to more ideas!

 

@Shane Craig I use Docusign for all leases, addendum, rules, etc so that everyone has a copy. My wife and I wrote out a little handbook for our systems/processes that is ever evolving. Our lease is also ever evolving. I push for electronic payments until they happen without fail. NO checks. NO cash. I am slowly getting rid of DIY repairs even though I sometimes enjoy them. Not really Earth shattering stuff, but excited about the thread.

Originally posted by @James Wise :

Ohh man, ya'll really prefer a 2/1 SFR to a 3/1 SFR? Gonna have to disagree on that one. Additional bedroom really increases the rental rates.

I suppose it really depends on the market.  Here in Houston the demand is for 3br/2 bath 1500sqft homes with 2 car garage.  They are very common so that is the expectation a lot of people have.

 

I do all admistrative stuff online. Leases, applications, signings - everything. I can do it on my phone so can be sitting on my horse signing a lease, or approving an application :)

Also, i dont take checks or cash. I only do ACH transfers. 

I also have subs/repair folk and the tenants work out a day/time for any repairs. Once I get a text from a tenant with an issue,I call the appropriate person and have them contact the tenant. This usually works well 



@Matthew Anderson i use Www.tenanttech.com. It works great for applications, leases, etc. there isnt a way to get paid but I do that via ACH so that is fine. This app has all the standard forms, etc etc. 

as for my subs - i just have a list of folks for each type of repair - appliance, HVAC, etc. then when a tenant texts me I call the right sub and have them contact tenant. 

I forgot one more hack - I give my CC # to the subs I use most and just have them run the charge automatically - this way I dont get mail etc.  I set up all my bills this way - everything I can setup for autopay I do. 

Oops - one more :) i try to eliminate paper. I scan (using my iPhone) all documents, reciepts, deposits, bills, checks I write-  everything gets scanned into dropbox. This way i have everything at my fingertips at all times :) 

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