Want to Get Away? Tips for Taking Time Off as a Landlord

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It is Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer.  The time when many go on or start thinking abut vacations.  One of the most difficult things about being your own boss can be finding the time to get away.  We all need the chance to recharge our batteries once in a while, but when you are a small business owner/landlord it may not be that easy to get up and go.  As the owner/operator, everything is on your shoulders.  So how can you find some time to get away?  Here are some tips and ideas to help.

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1.  Work to reduce the number of phone calls you receive.

  • The first thing you as a landlord need to do is to educate your tenants on what a true emergency is and when they should call.  If you are the type of landlord that takes every tenant call, even at three in the morning you are getting what you deserve.
  • Let your tenants know that you do not do drama.  Your tenants are adults and should be able to handle and resolve their problems without getting you involved.

2.  Have some people in place to cover for you while you are away.

  • These should include reliable contractors such as a plumber, electrician, general handyman, groundskeeper, etc.  These folks can handle any repairs which cannot wait.
  • Find a friend who is in the same situation you are.  See if that person will help you out while you are away if you will do the same for them at some point in the future.  They can check your mail, deposit checks and follow up on tenant concerns if necessary.  You can often find a friend like this at your local REIA group.
  • Get your keys lined up someplace or with someone you can trust.  You can rest assured as soon as you leave, a tenant will lock themselves out or a contractor will need access.

3.  Make your office and systems as virtual as possible

  • Pay your bills online with automatic drafts.  This not only saves time but can be reviewed from anywhere in the world.
  • Have your tenants signup for automatic rent payments for the same reasons listed above.
  • Put your important documents up in a cloud somewhere so you can have access to them from anywhere if you should need them.  Services like Dropbox are an awesome resource.
  • Take a small mini-office with you just in case.  You should have your laptop, a few checks, envelopes and stamps, just in case.  Never rely completely on technology.

Finally, let your tenants know you will be unavailable for a short time and to call only if absolutely necessary.  Also let them know they may only be able to leave a voicemail message.  Most tenants will understand.  Plus, it is unlikely that anything major will happen.

Unfortunately, until you hire a full time manager you can never fully get away, you will always have to keep minimal tabs on things.  But the tips offered above will give you a chance to get away from the routine and recharge.  And if something does happen you will be prepared to deal with it.

Enjoy your summer.

How do you, business owners of BP, manage to get away for a while?  Share your tips with us in the comments?

Photo: nate bolt

About Author

Kevin Perk

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in and manages rental properties in Memphis, TN and is a past president and vice-president of the local REIA group, the Memphis Investors Group.

7 Comments

  1. Kevin,

    Great points. In particular, can’t stress enough how important it is to set the expectations with tenants from the start of the lease. This initial step can save time and resources throughout the life of the lease. Along those lines, setting up particular office hours for “non emergency” calls is also a help.

    Regarding this point, do most landlords have this informal conversation with tenants, or include specific language in the lease?

    In the end, like most aspects in real estate, this goes back to relationships…

  2. Kevin,

    Great article. I think every owner should look at ways to reduce their time spent doing the chores of the business. Some hire PM’s, others I know have their handyman take calls directly and text them if any major issues arise. Sure this requires training and a good handyman, but what part of the business doesn’t require quality folks with a bit of training? One of the blog writers here has even gone to the point of renting to folks who are handy on their own.

    It would be interesting to see BP members come up with a long list of time savers such as these.

    Jason

    • Kevin Perk

      Jason,

      I also would like to see a list of time savers from others.

      That is one of the great things about real estate, there is no right way and there are a million ways to do things. We can all learn from each other. Which is why we read this blog right! 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

  3. Building good relationships with local contractors that you trust is critical to getting away. In my phone I have the personal number to my plumbing guy, electrical guy, general handyman, etc. If I’m not around I call them. Just last month I was out of state and had a gas leak at a property. I made a call and my guy was there in an hour, fixed it, done!! They know me so they know they’ll be paid promptly and I let them know how much I appreciate their help. I’ve been pretty loyal to these guys so they don’t freak out if I call them once a year for a “how soon can you get there” issue. They are gold to me me. Build your team, treat them well.

    • Kevin Perk

      Dave,

      Good advice.

      Having good folks you can call is key. I pretty much have the same thing you describe. People I have used for years who I know and trust and who know I will pay them. They have been a real help at times.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

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