Everyone says that landlording is such an easy activity, where you sit back and just collect “mailbox money” every month. In the ideal world, it would be just this easy. But in the real world, being a landlord is much more difficult than that!
As the saying goes, being a landlord involves dealing with tenants, toilets and trash. It’s far from a cakewalk! It can get dirty. It can get frustrating. It can get emotional.
Problems you might run into usually involve one of two things: the property or the tenant. We’ve put together a summary of the common problems that landlords face. Make sure to reference the articles section for in-depth reading on certain facets of landlording!
With all the benefits of owning a home comes keeping the house maintained and functional. Over time, things break down, wear out and need replacement. And typically, having tenants in the house leads to things breaking down a little more quickly than if you lived in the house yourself.
Small repairs can include painting and drywall work, replacing carpets when tenants leave, replacing a window or door or many more things. It’s important to stay on top of these repairs and get them fixed right away. Otherwise, the house begins to feel like too much of a project to even touch, and the bill to fix it gets too big to handle.
It’s a great idea to have a handyman on call that can address small repairs as they crop up. Make sure to have some money set aside for these repairs. It’s not a matter of if they’ll happen, it’s a matter of when they’ll happen.
The Dreaded Big Repairs
If you want to keep you property healthy and rentable, be prepared to drop some big dollars on the big-ticket items. The typical “big repairs” to a house will involve the roof, foundation, any masonry work, structural work, plumbing, electrical, and the HVAC (heating and air conditioning).
These repairs can vary in cost, anywhere from $3,000-50,000 and more! Don’t get caught behind the eight ball. Make sure you hold on to reserves that will cover any of these big repairs that you are expecting or might happen without warning.
The big and small repairs to your property are investments in the property, which will keep in stable and rentable to future tenants. Keeping your property maintained isn’t something optional, that you can do if you want to: it’s something you should do as a smart investor and as part of the agreement you made with your tenant.
Houses require upkeep. It’s just that simple! Standard upkeep of a property includes things like keeping the grass mowed, the snow shoveled from the driveway and sidewalk, and keeping the yard and property looking presentable. A common pain point for landlords is when tenants neglect the appearance of the house, and before long, the city or county starts to notice and send violations for code infractions. And once your property becomes a nuisance for a code enforcement officer, they’ll be more likely to keep a close eye on it. If the lease calls for it, make sure your tenant keeps the property looking presentable!
Maintaining the property may be a bit of a headache and take a chunk out of your wallet. But at least the house won’t talk back to you!
Tenants on the other hand can be a whole new challenge. You’ve entered into a lease agreement, both stating your obligations as well as your tenant’s obligations. When things don’t go according to plan, it can get a little messy.
Failure to Pay
One of the biggest gripes of landlords and property owners is that their tenants have not paid rent or are late with rent. When this happens, you lose the “investment” component of your property, and now you just have somebody living in your property.
Experienced landlords usually have a very firm hand when it comes to rent payments. If the tenant isn’t paying or is late, smart landlords will use all the tools at their disposal to make sure they can collect rent and the problem doesn’t happen again. Often times, this means starting the eviction process right away.
Having good expectations and communication with your tenant should hopefully prevent this from happening. But make sure your tenant is living up to the lease agreement, just as much as you’re living up to it!
A property will always have a new repair popping up that needs fixing, but sometimes the tenant “speeds that process up” by damaging the property. It’s a great best practice to collect a damage deposit prior to renting to a tenant, so they have “skin in the game”. If a tenant has something to lose, they are less likely to damage the property.
Make sure your lease specifies what changes a tenant can make to a property. Are they allowed to paint the walls? Can they install TV dishes on the roof? Can they make upgrades or renovations?
After you have a tenant damage your property, you’ll never take tenant screening for granted quite the same. Make sure you have somebody living in your property that will take care of it like it’s their own!
Juggling all the parts of landlording can be very difficult. Whether it’s having a lease, finding the right tenants, collecting rent, managing the tenant relationship, making repairs, or getting the house ready for a new tenant, there is a lot to handle.
Some landlords and property owners will outsource all of this to a property manager. These managers will charge you a portion of the rents you might collect, but they can help to take a little pain out of the landlord experience.
If you consider using a management company, make sure to get recommendations from other investors and do multiple interviews. If the manager isn’t dedicated to doing a good job, it may make the process even worst than you began with.
Illegal activities aren’t okay! Nor should you want them happening on your property!
Look to your lease and the local and state law to see what your options are. Also, make sure to consult with an attorney. Many states allow landlords to evict tenants involved in illegal activity.