Make a schedule
You wouldn't take a job that puts you on-call 24/7 with no fixed schedule, so don't make a job like that for yourself. Make a schedule for performing specific tasks. If you have one or two properties, this might mean dedicating your Friday afternoons to maintenance, upkeep, and paperwork. If you have more properties, you might set days and times for activities like rent collection, tenant communication, and routine maintenance.
Of course, you may have a maintenance emergency come up or need to meet a tenant outside of your regular schedule. Think of these hours as overtime and then take some time off from your regular property management schedule.
Make a plan for showings
Showing an open unit can be a major time sink if you're trying to meet up with multiple prospective tenants. Your approach will depend on the competition. One option is to host an open house. Another is to schedule appointments within a two- to three-hour window on a day of your choice. You may also decide to delegate this job to a broker.
Automate rent collection
Rent collection can be a big hassle. Some landlords like to visit their properties to collect cash or checks, but that takes a lot of time and follow-up bookkeeping to make sure each rent payment gets appropriately credited.
Some landlords set up automatic transfers through their bank's bill pay or an app like Zelle or Venmo. You can also use an invoicing app or a dedicated rent collection app.
Consider additional services in the rent
When you rent out a home, maintenance like lawn care and snow shoveling are sometimes left to negotiation. Some tenants will be diligent with these tasks and treat your house like their own. Others may let things slide.
If a tenant doesn't keep up with these tasks, it could force you to spend more on maintenance later. You may also face city or HOA fines for not shoveling snow or cutting the grass. These may be costs that you can pass on to the tenant, but it's easier in the long run to take care of it and build the cost into the rent.
Keep up with maintenance
One way to avoid the time and expense of emergencies is to keep up with routine maintenance. Most emergencies are due to something wearing out or a small problem going unnoticed until it is too late.
You should still inspect your plumbing, heating, cooling, and appliances one a regular basis even if your tenants do not report any problems. Rental property improvements that attract tenants will also keep your maintenance in good working order.
Make a financial plan
If you need an emergency repair, you cannot tell your tenant that you do not have the money. Some maintenance items may be covered by habitability laws, while others are good customer service. You may want to establish a line of credit or open a savings account for a repair fund.
In addition, if you rely on rental income for your personal expenses, be prepared for times when the property is vacant. This might include putting two to three months of rent in savings.
Work with a property manager
Whether you have a day job or are retired, you may decide that you just aren't interested in the day-to-day work of being a landlord. A property manager can take care of everything for you for a percentage of the rent. The exact level of service depends on your needs and what the property manager offers.
You can explore Landlord Property Management documents to learn more about the available options and what you need to do.
Have a source for your legal needs
Both landlords and tenants have important legal rights. Even if you know your tenant well, it's important to document everything to protect both of you just in case something goes wrong. You can explore Landlord Legal Documents and Lease Agreements for documents you may need. If you want to avoid the hassle of meeting up to sign things, RocketSign® offers easy remote signatures. Reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney if you have questions or need legal advice about a particular situation.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.