The 5 Non-Negotiable Traits of Highly Effective Landlords

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Anyone can buy a few rental properties and call themselves a landlord. In fact, many people do just that. Then, after a couple of years and a couple of bad tenants, they begin to wonder why they even thought about getting into the business at all. Landlording can be a tough business. Many people start out thinking it is going to be easy. It is not. It can take a lot of effort, and it takes someone who either has or has developed certain traits to become an effective, successful landlord. So what makes an effective landlord? Here are my top 5 traits for success.

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The 5 Non-Negotiable Traits of Highly Effective Landlords

Effective landlords learn to screen their tenants well.

This is perhaps the number one thing that a landlord has to do and become very good at. Is some ways, one almost has to become a detective to put the pieces of the puzzle together and get a clear picture of who wants to live in your property. Credit and criminal background checks are of course a major component here, but so are many other items. These items can include things like neatness, promptness, accuracy, truthfulness and politeness.

Do you really want someone moving into your property who is rude to you? Do you want someone who has food spilled down the front of their shirt? No, you do not. Learn to read between the lines on the reports you get and learn to read the tell-tale signs from the people you interview. This can be difficult at first, but it is a skill that can be learned. Whatever you do, do not take the first warm body that comes along just to get the unit filled. You are asking for disaster.

business-questions

Effective landlords resolve problems.

Properties and tenants come with problems. Properties have neighboring properties. Their occupants can often create all sorts of problems, from boundary disputes to parking issues to trash. Tenants are of course human and thus can come with all sorts of problems that can make their way into your life, especially if their problems prevent them from paying the rent. Your job as a landlord is perhaps not to solve all of these problems but to contain and minimize them. Usually this means simply talking to people. You cannot put your head in the sand and expect problems and issues to go away. You may need to put out a trash can, stripe parking spaces, offer cash for keys or move a tenant to another property. Be creative and civil, and most will be amazed at your problem solving powers.

Effective landlords fix things.

Properties simply need to be fixed from time to time because unfortunately nothing lasts forever. Both tenant use and mother nature simply cause things to wear out. The truth of the matter here is you are going to have to spend the money to fix things if you want to keep an acceptable amount of money coming in. The more you let things remain in disrepair, the more your good tenants will move, and you will have a harder and harder time replacing them. I hate to spend the money too, but you have to see the big picture to keep the cash flowing in.

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Related: 6 Things Every Landlord Should Do to Win Over the Hearts of Tenants (A Renter’s Perspective!)

Effective landlords are resilient.

No matter how well you run your landlording business, bad things are going to happen. Most of the time, these things will be small, but there will be times when the bad things just don’t seem to stop. A tenant will go south on you. A major fire will happen — or perhaps a flood. An employee will break your trust and steal. Something will go wrong. You can either let these things get you down or you can learn from them and keep moving forward. It is not always easy to do, and honestly if you need to take and afternoon off and sit at home eating ice cream, then by all means, do it. But you’ve got to bounce back and look in the mirror and ask how you could have prevented the situation and how to prevent it in the future.

Related: The 4 Core Tenant Responsibilities Every Landlord Should Know

Effective landlords take a stand.

An effective landlord knows and understands when it is time to stand up and not take it anymore. It might involve going to eviction court. It might be standing up to local elected officials over a tax increase or rental inspection program. It might be just enforcing the rules at your properties or dealing with an overly demanding tenant. Most everything in this world is about give and take, but there are simply times when enough is enough. There are times when you have to stand and make that clear.

So there you have it. Effective landlords are resilient screeners who fix things, solve problems and know when to take a stand. Does this describe you? If not, do not worry too much. It did not necessarily describe me either when I got started ,which goes to show that a) these traits can be learned and b) you likely have a lot more inside of you than you think. You just have not had to use it yet.

Landlords: What traits would you add to this list?

Let me know with a comment!

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.

23 Comments

  1. Douglas Skipworth

    Well said, Kevin.

    You could have easily titled your post, “Rental houses are a business not a hobby” or “5 ways to treat your properties like a business.”

    At the end of the day, landlords have to be responsible and do the things that landlords are supposed to do even when it’s easier or more convenient not to.

    Thanks for the great reminder as we start the new year!

  2. Douglas Skipworth

    Great article, Kevin.

    Your post could easily have been titled, “How to run your rental properties like a business not a hobby” or “5 ways you have to treat your properties like a real estate business.”

    Landlords have to be responsible to do the things that only they can do even when it’s not easy or convenient. Thanks for the great reminder as we start the new year!

    • Kevin Perk

      Jerry,

      I still am as well. I think I (we) always will be. It is hard to do all the time. But the old saying is true, it really does make you stronger if it does not kill you.

      Thanks as always for reading and for commenting,

      Kevin

  3. Lee Carrell

    Hi Kevin! Nice article!

    I believe that effective landlords must learn to be patient! It is inevitable that your tenants will do things that could cause you to get annoyed, peeved, upset, miffed, and even angry. In any event, it is best to remain calm and patient. If you allow every tenant or property issue to upset you, either your landlord career will end or your health will!

    Ultimately, all issues will be resolved one way or the other. Handle them the best way you can, learn from it and keep on moving forward. Life is to be enjoyed! Don’t let tenant or property issues steal your joy!

    • Kevin Perk

      Lee.

      Thanks for the reading and for the comment.

      I know one thing I have learned which ties into what you are saying is that I often try to walk away from a really frustrating or anger inducing situation to think about it or sleep on it so to speak. I have learned that sometimes the immediate reaction is not the best reaction and that is it best to remove yourself from the situation, calm down, think and then act.

      Thanks again,

      Kevin

  4. Georgia Baker

    Great article Kevin,
    I am currently advertising to rent my Condo, it is my first rental and I am learning the process. I will admit, I am nervous, I know it’s not going to be easy. I will utilize all 5 of these traits.
    Thanks

    • Kevin Perk

      Georgia,

      It is natural to feel nervous as you are wading into unfamiliar territory. It will feel much more natural with time and experience. Use what you learn here to your advantage and go get that second, third, fourth, fifth, fiftieth rental property. Good luck!

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

  5. Gautam S.

    Great article Kevin.
    landlording is a management skill that can be learned.
    The other part is keeping you Assets (RE I mean) in good working order, as end of that day those
    properties are making you money. Keep your golden goose well preserved!

  6. Brenda E.

    Timely article as we have bought our first buy and hold property. Not only am I feeling nervous but nauseous thinking about what lies ahead with future tenants. I am so thankful for BP and posters such as yourself to help guide us and encourage us through the process. I know I will learn a lot and probably develop thicker, tougher skin along the way. I’m the first to admit I am a softie when it comes to sad stories but hopefully a strong screening, strong lease, and strong focus will help me.

    • Kevin Perk

      Brenda,

      Congrats on your first property. hopefully there are many more to come.

      That nervousness you are feeling is perfectly natural and normal. You are going into uncharted territory. Use this website and other resources like a local reia group to help you.

      You will definitely develop a thicker skin. I can almost guarantee it. You can listen to the sad stories but at the end of the day, the rent is still due. That does not mean you have to be a jerk, but do not let them roll over you either.

      Good luck and thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

  7. Donald Cooley

    Excellent article as my wife and I are getting ready to rent out our first purchase. We are both nervous and excited to take this first step toward financial freedom. But, thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us.

    • Kevin Perk

      Donald,

      Congrats on your first rental. Don’t worry too much about the nerves, it is completely natural and will fade with experience.

      Now go look for rental number two!

      Good luck and thanks for the kind words. I do appreciate them,

      Kevin

  8. Chad Hale

    When interviewing tenants I make my position as a property manager very clear. I tell them my motto: I’m firm but fair.

    I expect rent on time and to be notified of any issues no matter how small. I’ll get them taken care of in a timely fashion. What I don’t want is to show up and find for myself things dirty, broken and in disarray.

    Landlording/property managing can be a lot fun. I get to provide a safe, enjoyable place for someone to call home and make a good ROI at the same time. Win win for everyone.

    chad

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