How to Avoid Rental Drama by Being a “Boring” Landlord


When you take a risk (and investing in real estate is intrinsically a risk), you want to try to mitigate your risks as much as possible. In order to mitigate your risks, you need to analyze the areas in which your business provides a “failure point” and be proactive in thinking about how you can minimize that risk.

Life is not perfect, and sometimes there are unavoidable issues that you simply can’t have knowledge about and are not able to control. But I’ve learned that being a boring landlord, where the majority of what you do is collect checks and maintain your property, is the ideal situation!

You certainly don’t want to be one of “those” landlords you hear about, who have all sorts of issues happen to them that cause them to curse the business and dissuade others from jumping into the game.

Related: The Landlord’s Guide to Effective (& Legal) Tenant Screening

So what are some examples of minimizing risk? Well, just take a look at a few “ugly landlord” scenarios and what the “boring landlord” would do.

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What Would the “Boring Landlord” Do: 5 Scenarios

Landlord Scenario #1: A furnace goes out in the middle of winter

The boring landlord would get tune-ups on the furnaces every fall before winter hits. That landlord would take the advice of their trusted HVAC maintenance person, and when a furnace is getting to the point where it will go any day, proactively replace it.

Landlord Scenario #2: A tree falls on the roof of your property

The boring landlord would make sure that they are, of course, carrying insurance on the property. Secondly, the landlord could hire a tree maintenance company to check out the trees on the property and cut back any large branches that are close to the roof (or touching it).

The tree maintenance company can also check to see if the tree is healthy — a dying tree might be closer to falling down than a sturdy, live one.

Landlord Scenario #3: A prospective tenant sues for discrimination

The boring landlord would advertise their property without using discriminatory language (e.g. “perfect for families”). That landlord would write down their screening criteria in black and white and ensure that they hold all prospective applicants to the same criteria (you can have the applicant sign the statement and initial each criteria).

Landlord Scenario #4: A tenant trashes your property

The boring landlord would screen, screen, screen — and make sure that the applicant they are accepting in their unit is one worthy of the property. They only accept a tenant who will pay their bills, pay their rent, and take care of their rental unit.

Related: Protect Yourself As a Landlord With These 6 Crucial Documents

A boring landlord is one who trusts, but verifies the information the tenant gives them. The boring landlord will call not only the current landlord, but also the prior landlord(s) to ask the question, “Would you rent to this person again?”

Landlord Scenario #5 – A tenant stops paying rent due to maintenance issues

The boring landlord will fix everything when it stops working. The boring landlord will make safety a #1 priority and ensure that smoke detectors are working and are present in all required areas. The landlord will ensure that carbon monoxide detectors work and are also located in all the required areas. The landlord (or their maintenance person) will walk through the property periodically and make sure they don’t notice anything that the tenant hasn’t mentioned.

A 5-minute fix can turn into a 5-hour problem if not done in a timely manner!


Can you eliminate risk entirely? NO!

You can’t predict if a brand new furnace, for example, has a small, defective part that causes it to stop working. You can’t predict if you get someone who tries to sue you anyway, no matter how solid you write your ads and perform your screening. You can’t predict if a drunk driver runs up on the grass and crashes into your property. Investing in real estate is just like any other investment: not without risk.

That being said, you still can take steps to minimize risk as best as possible.

What do you do to minimize risk? Are you a “boring landlord”?

Leave a comment below!

About Author

Dawn Anastasi

Dawn is a buy-and-hold real estate investor in Milwaukee, WI. She specializes in single-family homes and duplexes, and has been a self-managing landlord since 2009.


  1. I am all about being a boring landlord, and having boring tenants. I do not need the drama of cops at the rental, or excuses for unpaid rent.

    I have not head from any of my 24 renters in over a month. And it’s been almost two months since any have even asked a question…

    • There ARE boring tenants in some surprising places. My new tenants are (3) 19 year old guys. I have every expectation that they will be as boring as the early 20s guys that they replaced. They all have jobs/go to college. Up until this point in their lives they have caused no excitement with the local police. I have talked to each and every one (and a parent of each one) about what I expect. I also talked to someone who has known them all since infancy.
      As a boring landlord I DO text my new tenants for the first few months asking if there is ANYTHING that they have noticed that needs fixing. I try to remember to text every few months afterward, so as to catch anything minor before it becomes major.

  2. Great article and I especially like the underlying principle of being very proactive in all areas whenever possible. Yes, there are some tenants who are simply bad tenants, but I honestly think it is a small number from the overall pool of tenants. I think there’s a much larger group that could go either way, they could be bad tenants or they could swing the other way and be just fine. Now, sometimes this may be beyond the landlord’s control due to outside factors, but much more often I think the landlord him/herself can play a big role in which way they go. Set the stage for being a “tight” landlord with them seeing the tough screening process, that you really do check references, etc and that you actually did check to see if that former landlord 2 leases ago was really a landlord and not their cousin posing as a landlord!

    A couple ideas too, document everything extensively and find out which paperwork you need to keep a hard copy of and everything else can easily be scanned and stored on a hard drive somewhere. (and now that cloud storage is booming, many services now offer one terabyte as their basic package, do you know how many pdfs you can fit into one TB? A LOT!!) Secondly, and this one is HUGE-ALWAYS watch any liability issues, especially with repairs! Check with your insurance company and see what they’ll cover as far as doing repairs, for instance you might be covered swapping out an existing dead electrical outlet with a new one, but if you add a few extra outlets in a room you replace the drywall in while doing a partial rehab, unless you’re a licensed electrician then you very well might not be covered on that and same goes for that awesome “handyman” you hire for everything. No, adding a new outlet or many things like that aren’t hard to do and do correctly at all with the right info, BUT ins co’s always draw the line somewhere and if there’s any sort of major claim and especially if someone gets hurt or killed, that ins co will investigate the hell out of that place and everyone you’ve ever hired for anything! You could lose that rental unit and a lot more too!

  3. Mehran K.

    That just reads as “rockstar” landlord to me. The PM/landlord handling things in this manner would actually have the freedom and time to do the things they wanted. Awesome article Dawn, it makes me realize just how important preventative maintenance is for everything, not just real estate.

  4. Trevor Rutherford

    If you have tenants who have never owned a house. They don’t understand, the responsibility of owning a property. The Mortgage company wants their money, NOW, or there’s a late fee. The county wants their tax money NOW, or there’s a late fee. The insurance company wants their money NOW, or they won’t insure your property. They think we have deep pockets and we don’t. Rent and bills come first.

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