Property Management Best Practices for Landlords
Now that you’ve found a great Tenant, executed a Lease Agreement, and made it through the move-in process, you have a quality Tenant settled in your rental and your demands as a Landlord should slow down some.
That said, this next phase of the Landlord lifecycle, managing a rental with a Tenant in place, is still important. This is the period where you continue to build strong Landlord-Tenant relationships, ensure that your property remains in good condition, and increase Tenant retention.
To help you accomplish those goals and make things go as smoothly as possible, here are some property management best practices for Landlords.
Establish Good Landlord-Tenant Communication
We talk about Landlord-Tenant communication a lot, but it’s particularly vital when it comes to property management. Effective communication is key for ensuring your property stays in good condition, avoiding confusion and frustration for Landlords and Tenants, and ensuring that things run smoothly at your rental.
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To establish good communication:
- Ensure that Tenants know how to contact you with questions, how to submit maintenance requests, and what to do for emergency maintenance issues;
- Create a system for responding to Tenant requests. Landlords should respond to emergency requests immediately and all requests within 24 hours;
- Discuss key responsibilities and expectations prior to move-in. For example, discuss who is responsible for taking care of the yard and exactly what is expected for yard maintenance. Other topics to discuss are pest control, snow removal, replacement of air filters, repairs, and maintenance. Make sure that both parties are clear on their roles and responsibilities from Day 1.
- Check in with Tenants periodically to see how things are going, ask if there’s anything they need, and give Tenants a chance to report any small maintenance issues.
Be Responsive to Tenant Requests or Concerns
While this topic is similar to communication, it’s worth discussing on its own. A key to being a good property manager is timely handling Tenant maintenance requests and problems. Good communication requires that you acknowledge requests within 24 hours, but that’s just the first step.
The next step is actually dealing with the issue. Landlords should strive to complete all repairs in a timely manner. While the exact timeline will vary based on what needs to be done, a general rule of thumb is that critical repairs should be completed within 3-7 days and non-critical repairs should be completed within 30 days.
Examples of critical repairs are no hot water, a broken refrigerator, severe pest infestations, or plumbing that is not functioning. In contrast, non-critical repairs are things like a broken dishwasher, a torn screen, or a small leak in the roof.
To make sure that you stay on top of repairs, it’s best to create a system and follow through on it for all maintenance requests. For example:
- Acknowledge a Tenant’s maintenance request within 24 hours and create a plan for dealing with the issue.
- Inspect the issue and make needed repairs or contact a professional to make repairs.
- Communicate all progress with Tenants and document maintenance requests progress.
- Inspect the property after work is completed and communicate with Tenant to ensure everything is functioning correctly.
It can be tempting to put off maintenance requests or let small issues fall through the cracks, but this is bad for your property and your Landlord-Tenant relationships. Instead, create a system for dealing with repairs and follow it for all requests.
Stay on Top of Preventative & Seasonal Maintenance
A key to reducing emergency repairs and keeping your property in good condition is being proactive about seasonal and preventative maintenance. Many Landlords think that if they don’t hear anything from Tenants they should take that as good news and not worry about maintenance issues. However, being proactive can help avoid emergency repair expenses, ensure your property stays in good condition, and let Tenants know that you pay attention to and care about the condition of your property.
Here are a few best practices around preventative and seasonal maintenance:
- Schedule annual or semi-annual inspections. By walking through the property at least once a year, you can identify small maintenance issues that need to be addressed, identify any Lease violations, and ensure that you’re not surprised by the condition of a property at move-out. When scheduling this, make sure you comply with all of your state’s notice requirements and give your Tenant adequate written notice.
- Promptly address any maintenance issues or lease violations identified during the inspection.
- Create a preventative maintenance checklist, including annual and seasonal tasks. Stay current on all items on the checklist.
Build a Good Team
Building the right team will ensure that property management issues go smoothly for Landlords and Tenants. A good team should include:
- a handyman for small and mid-size projects and repairs
- an HVAC professional;
- a plumber;
Depending on who’s responsible for what tasks, it might also be helpful to have someone available to handle yard work, snow removal, and pest control.
When you get a solid team in place, you’ll know exactly who to call when issues arise with the property. This will make management easier and more efficient and will ensure quality repairs.
Have the Right Forms & Notices
A final step for Landlords is making sure that they have all the necessary forms, documents, and notices needed to manage rentals professionally. Proper documentation is key for ensuring that you communicate well with Tenants, comply with all notice requirements, and are protected in the event problems arise with a Tenant.
For everything from Lease renewals, rent increases, Lease violation notices, and demand for unpaid rent, there are lots of notices that Landlords need to manage their property well. Visit ezLandlordForms.com to see the state-specific forms for your rental and to download the notices and documents you need.
Hopefully, these tips will help to make property management smooth, profitable, and enjoyable. We’ll be back next month for an in-depth look at ways you can build strong landlord-tenant relationships. Until then, don’t hesitate to contact us with any Landlording questions or concerns you have.
Kevin is passionate about helping others to become a better Landlord by providing tools and education to help them thrive.