Managing Rental Properties: 6 Actionable Steps

by Erika Rykun | Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Did you know that a staggering 10.6 million Americans draw income from rental properties? But how many truly master the finesse required in managing rental properties, seamlessly transforming tenant challenges into testimonies of satisfaction?

Owning a slice of the real estate pie is one accomplishment; managing it effectively is an entirely distinct expertise. The hurdles might seem daunting, from handling unexpected late-night repair requests to navigating the intricate dynamics of tenant relationships.

Yet, the rewards are immense. In an evolving rental landscape, mastering the art and science of rental property management becomes crucial for sustained success and harmonious landlord-tenant dynamics.

Here's how to manage the balance and ensure success when you own rental property.

managing rental properties means finding and managing tenants that fit your investment property goals

Finding the right tenants

Imagine your rental property as a prized musical instrument. Would you hand it to someone who doesn't know a single note, or would you prefer someone who treats it with the respect and care it deserves? Just as a musician reveres their instrument, an ideal tenant treasures your property.

• Pre-screening is key: Begin with an initial chat. Discuss their reasons for moving, employment status and previous rental experiences. Prepare a list of specific questions for potential renters to understand their compatibility with your property. This is like the first note in a symphony; it sets the tone.

• Background checks: These are your protective measures. Criminal history, credit scores and rental history are the chords that help you understand your potential tenant's reliability.

• Clear communication: Your lease agreement is the sheet music of this relationship. Be transparent about your rules and expectations.

• References speak volumes: Past behaviors often predict future actions. Reach out to their former landlords. Did they hit the right notes, or were there discordant patches? "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior," says Tom Nolan, Founder of All Star Home. "Dive deep into a potential tenant's history before making your decision. Remember, finding the right tenant is like composing a harmonious tune. Each step ensures a melody of trust, respect and mutual satisfaction. "

Setting the right rent price

Choosing the right rent price is like finding the sweet spot in a melody. Too high, and you risk vacant units; too low, and you're leaving money on the table. So, how do you strike the perfect note?

• Market analysis: Dive into rental websites or consult with local real estate agents to see what similar properties in your area command. Adjust for unique features, like a renovated kitchen or proximity to public transport.

• Costs & profit: Remember the formula: Monthly Rent - Operating Expenses = Profit. Set a rent that covers your mortgage, maintenance, property taxes and insurance, with a cushion for profit.

Property managers must maintain their rentals to prevent tenant turnover

Routine property maintenance is part of managing rental properties

Unlocking the secret to a successful rental property isn't just about acquiring the right tenants but ensuring your property remains in top condition. Imagine your property as a car; the better you maintain it, the smoother and longer it will run. And just as negligence can lead to a car's swift deterioration, overlooking maintenance can result in a rental property value decline.

Here's why routine property maintenance should be at the top of your to-do list:

• Preservation of property value: Regular upkeep prevents minor issues from becoming costly problems. Whether it's fixing a leak promptly or repainting walls, consistent maintenance preserves and can even increase the property's value.

• Attract and retain quality tenants: Tenants cherish well-maintained homes. A well-kept property can be the difference between a tenant staying for one year or five. It's also an incentive for potential high-quality tenants.

• Cost efficiency: Regular check-ups can detect potential problems. Addressing them early can save thousands in the long run. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine. Jay (Yong Jia) Xiao Co-founder, President of SuretyNow, says, "A landlord's proactive approach to maintenance is the heartbeat of a prosperous rental business. It's not just about fixing what's broken; it's about foreseeing and forestalling."

Handling emergencies

Emergencies are unpredictable thunderstorms in the clear skies of property management, and being prepared is non-negotiable. Your response can make the difference between a minor hiccup and a full-blown crisis when things go awry. Here's how to handle them with finesse:

• Immediate response system: Set up a 24/7 emergency hotline or contact system. A tenant's leaking ceiling doesn't adhere to 9-to-5. Being accessible reassures them that their well-being is your priority.

• Build a reliable team: Maintain a list of emergency service providers: plumbers, electricians and contractors. These are your unsung heroes, ready to swoop in when calamity strikes.

• Regular inspection: Prevention is the best medicine. You can preempt many emergencies by routinely checking the property, saving time, money and stress.

• Insurance is your safety net: Always keep your insurance policies updated. Shawn Plummer, CEO at The Annuity Expert, explains: "It's not about how much money you make, but how much you keep, how hard it works for you and how many generations you keep it for. Insurance ensures your wealth and investment stay protected."

Financial management

Financial management is the art and science of overseeing your property's monetary aspects. It's not just about collecting rent but ensuring the property remains profitable, covers its expenses, and increases in value over time. Here's how:

• Budget wisely: Outline all expected expenses — maintenance, mortgage, taxes, and insurance. Always factor in a contingency for unexpected costs.

• Regular audits: Monthly check-ins on your financial statements can prevent minor issues from becoming expensive problems.

• Optimize tax benefits: Understand property depreciation, tax deductions on interest and other benefits specific to rental properties. As Corey Donovan, President of Alta Technologies, aptly says, "One of the hidden treasures of rental property ownership is the myriad of tax advantages it offers. Being proactive and informed can save owners thousands annually."

Property management company that must evict a tenant if they fail to pay rent for an established time during the rental lease

Dealing with evictions

As a property manager, you hope never to utter the word: "eviction." Yet, this can be a part of the rental terrain. Here's how to navigate it smoothly:

• Know the law: Every region has specific landlord-tenant laws. Before taking any step, ensure you're on the right side of legality. Ignorance is no excuse! Andrew Pierce, CEO at LLC Attorney, advises, "Familiarizing oneself with local and state eviction laws isn't merely a recommendation; it's a necessity. Every eviction carried out outside the bounds of the law can be a costly mistake."

• Open communication: Address issues early, whether they are about rent delays, property concerns or interpersonal issues. Before you serve an eviction notice, have a candid chat with your tenant. Often, managing tenant conflicts smoothly can help avoid drastic steps like eviction.

• Document everything: Maintain records of every rent payment, communication, and breach. This isn't just good practice; it's your safety net.

• Humanize the process: Eviction isn't just about removing a tenant; it's about displacing someone's home. Handle with care, and always ensure fairness.

• Seek expertise: Sometimes, a mediator can diffuse a volatile situation. Consider this before legal escalation.

Managing rental properties, the right way

Managing your rental property isn't just about ensuring everything's in check; it's about creating harmonious melodies between the home and its inhabitants. From the intricacies of routine maintenance to the delicate matter of evictions, a vigilant property manager juggles not just tasks but emotions, aspirations and dreams.

But here's the golden nugget: with every challenge met, every law learned, every paint coat applied and every conversation held, you're not just managing a rental; you're curating experiences, constructing stories and cementing your legacy in the rental realm.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Always consult a qualified attorney in regards to any legal matters.

Categories: Featured, Guides, Landlords

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author