Smart Moves for First-Time Landlords

Property management is rarely simple. As static and stable as a piece of land can seem from the outside, in reality it requires a fair amount of maintenance. Similarly, while a landlord might seem like a relatively simple profession, the reality is rather different. Here are a few things to keep in mind for landlords who are just starting out.

Make a Fair Agreement With Your Tenants

First and foremost, a landlord is supposed to come to an arrangement with a tenant and this carries several legal implications. While proper legal advice is outside the scope of this article, it is important to do research and stay abreast of the legal ramifications of any agreement made with a tenant. 

For example, there are laws that dictate what would be considered tenant discrimination. In the United States, under the Fair Housing Act it is illegal to discriminate against a potential tenant on the basis of race, sex, disability, and several other factors. A landlord is also required to make sure the tenant can live on the property reasonably comfortably. One aspect of this is described by what is known as the Implied Warranty of Habitability, which discusses the relationship between the tenant as a rent-paying inhabitant and the landlord as the person in charge of maintaining the property. Another rule a landlord must generally follow is the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

Broadly speaking, while the landlord owns the property the tenant who lives there is supposed to be allowed privacy; the landlord will need to make specific arrangements to enter and inspect the property out of consideration for the tenant. 

Set Standards for Your Tenants

It is reasonable to set standards for tenants. Unfortunately, a number of tenants carry various risks with them like property damage or missed payments, and if a landlord is aware of criminal activity on their property they may, under some circumstances, be liable. Knowing what risks a particular tenant brings is important, and there are a few ways to gather this information. A landlord usually requires that prospective tenants fill out some kind of application that provides information on the tenant, such as employment history, personal references, and pet ownership. A landlord can also recommend methods to help tenants make their payments whether it’s through getting a bad credit loan, taking out a small personal loan, or setting up a payment plan.

Additionally, tenant screening software specifically designed for this purpose, such as Turbo Tenant, can assist in this process greatly. Regardless of how the tenant has behaved in the past, it would still be worthwhile to take precautions on the off chance something bad happens. 

To this end, a security deposit may be a reasonable measure for the landlord’s own protection, though the laws governing security deposits may vary depending on where the property is located. 

Harness Your Responsibilities

While the title of “landlord” is generally vague, or perhaps because of it, the number of responsibilities a landlord has to attend to is relatively large. Indeed, at first glance the list of potential responsibilities can be daunting and seemingly arbitrary at first glance. For example, some responsibilities in the United Kingdom include participation in a Client Money Protection Scheme, minimum bedroom size requirements, and compliance with changing mortgage interest tax laws. Additional requirements are expected to arrive in the future, further complicating the landlord’s role.

Though the task may be daunting on occasion, so long as all the information is in known the next step should hopefully be straightforward. Property and residential law is varied and changing, and it is important to stay on top of. A landlord is not exempt from having a seemingly universal customer service role, either, as they are required to manage and communicate with potentially troublesome tenants. 

It would be far from proper to say that being a landlord is easy, though it is a job that can definitely be rewarding if one wishes to pursue it.