Four Landlording Mistakes You Should Avoid…

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They say the definition of insanity is doing the same function repeatedly hoping for different results. If this is the case, you can call almost every landlord insane!

As a landlord, I too tend to commit the same mistakes over and over, despite fully knowing the error I am making. I compiled this list as a lesson to myself, and if it can help others along the way avoid these – then my mistakes have not been in vain!  Without further ado:

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Five Landlording Mistakes You Should Avoid – But Don’t

  1. Procrastinating:  This disease affects nearly every person alive, but can be a silent killer to a real estate investor. Waiting to do maintenance “until later” can cause huge headaches later. I once was told by a tenant that a toilet wasn’t draining very well. Keep in mind, it wasn’t completely broke, just slow. I put the maintenance job on the back burner until I got a call late at night three weeks later – the toilet was overflowing. Not from flushing – but because the tenant stopped flushing it three weeks earlier but continued to use it, daily.  I don’t need to share the rest of the story with you, but lets just say I will never again wait to repair a toilet.
  2. Working on a Tenant’s Timeline Instead of Your Own: This one hits me hard today. I spent the last several days preparing a unit for a tenant. The tenant wanted to move in quickly, so I hired three others to work with me to completely rehab this apartment and get it rent-ready. We were able to fully remodel this unit in less than three days so the tenant could move in – but I spent close to $500 on extra labor and worked us all 12 hour days to make it happen.  All for what? So the tenant could move in a few days early and I could collect a few more dollars in rent. While the tenant is moved in and happy,  I look back and see the ridiculousness in this now.
  3. Trying to Do It All:  “If you want a job done right, do it yourself.” No doubt you’ve heard this line before, and probably said it to yourself a number of times. As a landlord, there are many times that it is necessary to do a job yourself to save a huge bill or get something done quickly. However, the vast majority of the time – other professionals are better, faster, and more efficient than you. For example, plumbers charge nearly $100 per hour, but when they can clear a drain in five minutes that might take you three hours, it might be worth the charge. As a real estate investor, it often comes down to the question, “is your time best spent as a plumber or a real estate investor?”
  4. Letting Emotion Guide Your Decisions: We are emotional creatures, so it is impossible not to let emotion into the decisions we make. However, how many times have you let your screening standards slide just a little bit because you felt bad or been slow in enforcing a late fee? Decisions based on emotion are almost always the downfall of any landlord and the easiest to remedy. Have a (written) plan for every aspect of your business – and stick to that plan.

It felt good to get that in writing. I am confessing my sins and moving forward. As a real estate investor, it is important that we learn from our mistakes and not simply accept things the way they are. By sticking your head in the sand and continuing to make the same mistakes over and over, you are not only hurting yourself but also your tenants, your family, and your business.

What are some mistakes you are learning to avoid?  Comment below!

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About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on Like… seriously… a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of “The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down“, and “The Book on Rental Property Investing” which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.


  1. I really agree with rule number 1. procrastinating on maintenance issues is killer. If there’s problems that arise fix it and fix it correctly and you will have more money in your pocket in the long run and also a happier renter who will be more willing to renew when that lease is up.

    • Brandon Turner

      Agreed, “Fix it correctly.”

      Too many times I see just terrible quick fixes that cost so much more later on to fix the right way. Like patching holes in drywall with expanding spray foam or fixing a burst water pipe with rubber and a hose clamp. They might be temporary fixes, but sure compound the problem later- and usually cause disasters at the most inconvenient time.

  2. Al Williamson on

    I like #3 – Trying to Do It All. Yup, it’s important to know your limits. I personally like to see things done really well. I hire out if a) I know that I’ll never be able to produce the quality that it expect to see, and b) if it’s a one time event and isn’t worth my time to learn the ropes.

    Good points. Nice tips.

  3. I feel like I’m in church – I felt so guilty reading #3, especially after dealing with my latest rehab. By trying to save money, I lost time which ended up costing me my first mortgage payment.

    As they say, “work on your business, not in it”


  4. “All for what? So the tenant could move in a few days early and I could collect a few more dollars in rent. While the tenant is moved in and happy, I look back and see the ridiculousness in this now.”
    This quote directly goes against #3, which was the best advice you gave.

    Don’t forget that you DID collect a few more dollars, and proved to your new tenant that you “get it done”…this goes a long way when you have a new tenant. Show them that you care, and maybe they will too.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Noel,

      Good point, it did show the tenant I was trying hard, which should pay off.

      And I don’t necessarily regret having to hire the extra work, but I do regret the overtime I had to pay plus the long hours we all had to put in. I want to treat my employees well, too, and making them rush just to get a marginal tenant in a few days early was probably foolish.

  5. Sandy Stuart on

    We want to finish the basement in our rental. Our tenant’s father moved out but left a bunch of stuff in the basement and pays part of her rent to do this. We want to finish the basement and move in our disabled son. He refuses to move his stuff. This is a month-to-month lease. What are our rights in Colorado?

  6. Luka Milicevic

    I’ve been reading blogs/posts on landlording mistakes and I can check every single one off…..I’ve made all of them! The good thing is to either make the mistake ONCE or learn from someone else who has made the mistake before. The most important thing is to not repeat mistakes!!!

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