To rent or to buy? While this may sound like a question straight out of a William Shakespeare novel, it's a query just about everyone asks themselves at one point or another. And if you're a new landlord, you probably know that many people these days are going with the former rather than the latter, in part because property is at a premium and home prices are at all-time highs.
This has led many renters who were considering buying to stay put and has served as an added incentive for others to take a second look at the rental market.
The machinations of the market is always something landlords need to keep in the back of their minds, and when demand ramps up, the more cognizant they need to be of their tenants and what their needs are. If you're new to the landlord landscape – or maybe could use a refresher course – here are a few things to check up on or address if you haven't already:
- Get an idea of your tenants' financial track record by running a credit check from one of the three credit reporting bureaus.
- Service heating and air conditioning units at least once a year so they're less likely to malfunction during winter or summer.
- Before raising rents, check out what other landlords are charging to remain competitive.
- Consider the potential consequences of raising rents; good tenants sensitive to price hikes may cause them to leave.
- If inquiries have increased or vacancies diminished, keep your schedule as open as possible so you can promptly address problems that may develop.
- If you haven't heard from your tenants for a while, contact them just to see that everything is OK. A simple text or email can often suffice.
- If you're not much of a "do-it-yourselfer" for repair problems, contact a mechanic who you can trust and is dependable.
- Perform a walkthrough of the unit prior to tenants' leaving before returning their down payment.
- Check with your insurer to see if it offers any bundling plans, which can increase your savings.
- Consider investing in flood insurance protection. You may also want to advise your tenant to do the same, as your coverage is different from renters' insurance.
Talk to tenants about insurance
It's not unusual for renters to believe their belongings are covered, under the impression that their landlords' insurance is sufficient. But as you are probably well aware, the protection you have is for the structure of the unit or complex itself does not include protection for their material possessions. You may want to consider mentioning this to your tenants just to make sure. Also, if they do get renter's insurance, tenants should understand that flood insurance is typically not included in a standard renter's policy.
Here at PayneWest, we can provide you with the tools and resources you need to make the most of your property investment and labor-intensive tasks that being a landlord can often involve.