If you want to avoid having tenant nightmares, try some of the practices I put in place when I was a landlord. The results were very low turnover, payments on time, and peaceful (most of the time) relationships:
- Treat them with respect. They are people just like you trying to find their way in this world. Don’t treat them like servants.
- Screen them. Check their background & references. This sometimes doesn’t work because their current landlord just might want them to leave….So they will say anything to get them out. If you are in the same town, drive by where they are living and see if they maintain the property well. Visuals tell a lot.
- Collect more money upfront. I always collected first (sometimes 2) months rent and large security deposit….minimum. Non-negotiable.
- Price break. If they are paying 6-12 months in advance, I gave them a deal. Also, took some cash off if they paid on the 25th for the following month. Make it clear in the lease……Give incentives, it will go a long way.
- Gift cards. I enjoyed this the most. I gave every tenant at least a $50 gift card right before the holidays. This was always perfect timing for them to use for Christmas shopping. Loyalty also goes a long way….
- Contact information. Include a handout of all the phone #’s they might need for utilities and handyman work. It shows you care and give them responsibility to call directly if there are any problems.
- Do not raise the rates because everyone else is doing it. If you have someone who is taking care of the property and is paying on time, keep them at all costs. They are golden. Now if you are losing money because of taxes and insurance have gone up, then you have not done the upfront planning and budgeting when you bought the house to account for these increases. Unlike me, you need to account for the worst case scenario and make sure you have enough money put away.
- Landscaping. Include this with the price of rent.
- Pay them to leave. There are no guarantees that if you do everything above, there will be no problems. Issues will still come up…… but with all the properties I owned, I had only one eviction. If I was having trouble with a tenant (lack of payment), I would offer to pay them to move. Believe me, this was a lot cheaper then going through the whole eviction process.