5 Helpful Tips for First-Time Landlords

Renting out your home can be a big challenge if you aren’t prepared. These tips will help you become a great landlord.

Congratulations! You’ve decided to rent out your property. You’re probably excited about this new opportunity and eager to get your home rented. 

Being a landlord isn’t always a walk in the park, however. There are many complexities, especially in 2020 with the CDC eviction moratorium and California’s AB 3088 laws going into place. It can be a challenge to stay on top of law updates and manage your home effectively.

We have put together this list of tips to help you become a great landlord.

Do Your Research

Being informed about local laws and fair housing is one of the most important aspects of being a landlord. It’s not as simple as sticking a “for rent” sign in your yard and picking a tenant. Each state, county, and city can have different laws that will affect your property. For example, in San Diego, there are strict rules for when and how you can evict a tenant. Not adhering to this can get you into trouble.research decorative image

2020 has been an especially complicated year for property owners. In January, AB 1482 took effect, which placed rent control restrictions on specific properties and altered some just cause eviction protections. In late August, Governor Newsom approved AB 3088, which helps protect tenants that have been financially affected by COVID-19. Around that same time, the CDC passed their own eviction moratorium nationwide. All of these new laws and ordinances make it extremely difficult to easily manage your property and make sure you are following all the laws correctly.

On top of new local laws, you also have to adhere to fair housing laws. These laws greatly impact tenant screening and acceptance. You might be thinking, “My house isn’t really suited for a family, so I’m not going to accept one.” That is a fair housing violation. It is highly recommended that you take a course on fair housing or purchase a book so you can feel confident that you are following their guidelines.

Another thing you want to research is rent prices in your neighborhood. This can be challenging because some people on websites like Zillow could be overpricing their homes. Generally, the best strategy is to price your home just under the market rate. Great tenants can rent anywhere, so they are typically looking for a good deal.

Overpricing the home, while some think it will lead to more qualified tenants, will actually attract lower quality tenants. These tenants will typically pay whatever it takes up front to secure a home, but then you will likely experience more problems later.

Get Organized

It’s important to stay organized as a property owner. Not only will you have your own property documents and payments to manage, but you will also be responsible for collecting rent from tenants, drafting leases, and screening applicants. 

Decide if you want to accept online rent payments or if they will need to deliver payments in person. In regards to the lease, make sure you have your attorney look it over. You can find examples of solid lease agreements online.

Porch has a great financial and legal checklist that can help get you started. 

Outline a Communication Plan for Tenants and Maintenance

maintenance decorative imageHow you handle maintenance issues can make or break your relationship with your tenants. The best way to start off on the right foot is to let your tenants know how to approach a maintenance issue. Do you want them to call you? Email? Submit an online form? This is the first step to tackling the problem quickly. Once you are aware of the issue, be sure to update them frequently. Even if you don’t have any new information, tenants like to be kept in the loop.

You should establish a set list of vendors that you will contact when a problem arises. It’s best to have a trusted vendor on hand for each type of work that might be needed: a painter, a handyman, water damage contractors, cleaning services, etc. This will save you time in the long run.

Don't Show Your Home While Occupied

Many landlords think that getting your property on the market as soon as possible is the most important thing. However, this is not usually the case. Putting your property on the market while you still have tenants creates a number of problems.

First, you will have to coordinate with the current tenants when it comes to property showings. You ideally will not want them to be home when you are showing the property to potential tenants. This can get complicated, especially in 2020 when many people are working from home.

Second, the home will be full of someone else’s belongings. This makes it hard for renters to picture themselves living in the property. It also doesn’t allow them to get an

idea of the dimensions of the room or any damages that may be blocked by furniture. An occupied home will never rent as easily as a vacant one due to these reasons.

By waiting until your current tenant vacates, you are able to get the property professionally cleaned and assess if any maintenance needs to be done prior to showing the property.

Have a Written Rental Criteria That You Stick to

We have already discussed the importance of adhering to fair housing laws when it comes to renting your home. Having a written rental criteria can benefit you when it comes to screening applicants and making sure you are sticking to those laws. Landlords who don’t use a manager or real estate agent and own 3 or less homes are not subject to federal fair housing laws. In California though, landlords are required to adhere to similar standards (Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Unruh Act) which make it unlawful to discriminate against the defined protected classes.

There are a few important things to look at when screening applicants: credit, income, and rental references. For credit and background checks, you can find a company online to run these reports. You should have a set requirement for income as well (2x the monthly rent, etc.) and a requirement for cosigners, should you accept them. You may also note that some states, such as California, limit how much you can charge for an application fee.

Contacting an applicant’s former landlord can provide some background into what kind of tenant they are. You will quickly learn if the applicant has been a great tenant or if they have caused damage to previous properties.

It is important to apply this rental criteria to each and every applicant. Treating some applicants more favorably than others can lead to a fair housing violation.

For more tips on how the be the best landlord, download our free guide!

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Congratulations! You’ve decided to rent out your property. You’re probably excited about this new opportunity and eager to get your home rented. However, Binglandlord isn’t always a walk in the park, especially with new things like California’s AB3088 and the CDC eviction moratorium thanks to COVID-19. Binglandlord is more challenging than ever. We’ve put together this list of five tips to help you become the best lawyer in law that you can be. Tip number one, get organized. This is the one of the most important things that you can do as a property owner. Because not only will you have your own property documents and mortgage payments stick here, but you’ll have tenants, leases, applications, their payments and things like that. First, decide if you’re going to accept online rent payments or if you want them in person. As in regards to the lease, you can find solid examples of leases online, but you should always have your attorney check it over. Tip number two, do your research. Unfortunately, Binglandlord is not as simple as sticking a foreign sign in your yard in hoping you get a tenant. 2020 has been a specially complicated year for property owners. In January, we had AB422 pass, which affected rent control of uncertain properties and just cause eviction. And then two months later, COVID hit, which impacted a lot of tenants across the state. In late August, AB3088 was passed by Governor Newsom, which protected tenants that were financially affected by COVID-19. Around the same time, the CDC enacted their own moratorium, which was an unprecedented case. These two laws kind of disagree with each other, so it can be very hard to navigate how it’s going to affect your property and if you can evict your tenants for whatever reason. On top of new local laws, you also need to pay attention to fair housing laws. You might be thinking, I don’t really want to rent to college students or families or things like that. All of those are fair housing violations that can get you into huge trouble and cost you a lot of money. Lastly, another thing you’ll need to research when you’re landlord is the market condition in your area. You might think, oh, well, my home can easily rent for $3,000 a month. But if you don’t do proper research on the neighborhood and see what your home can actually rent for compared to the others it’s competing with, you might end up overpriced and sitting on the market too long, which will cost you more money than a lower rent rate would. Tip number three, outline a communication plan with your tenants regarding maintenance. Maintenance can be one of the things that makes or breaks your relationship with your tenants because when they have a problem they want to fix immediately. The first thing you want to do is establish with them how they should communicate with you regarding a problem. Do you want them to email you? Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to call you in case of emergency? But if it’s not an emergency send you an email or text. These are all things that should be outlined so that you’re not bothered by your tenants 24-7 and they know the best way to get a response from you. You also want to keep them in the loop regarding the maintenance issue. And even if there’s no update to give them letting them know once a day might be best just so they understand that you are keeping an eye on the issue and are eager to get it fixed just like they are. Tip number four, don’t show your property well occupied. You might think that putting your home on the market as soon as you get noticed to vacate from your current tenants is the best idea. However, this creates a number of issues. One being that you’ll have to coordinate with your current tenants about when you can show the home to prospective tenants. This creates a whole mess of scheduling with your schedule, the prospective tenants that want to move into your home and the current tenants that are just trying to go about their lives and are interrupted with showings. Second reason is that the home is now going to be full of someone else’s belongings. This makes it very hard for prospective tenants to picture themselves in your home when it’s still cluttered by your current tenants items. Additionally, if they want to take measurements of the rooms, they won’t be able to and you won’t know if there are any additional damages to the property that might be hidden by your current tenants furniture. This means that even if you rent the property to these prospective tenants that have now viewed your home, you might have damages that you weren’t prepared for that you have to repair prior to their move in which may in turn push their move in back and delay the whole process. Tip number five, have a written rental criteria that you stick to. We already discussed the importance of fair housing laws and how they can get you into trouble. Having a written rental criteria can vastly help you when it comes to processing applications. They’re the obvious things that you want to look at, like credit, income requirement, background check and things like that. Additionally, you can contact an applicant’s prior landlord to see what kind of tenant they were if they had any major property damages or they would overall recommend them as a tenant. This can help you get some insight on what they were like at previous properties, but it can also delay your application processing depending on how long a landlord takes to get back to you. Remember, you should stick to this written rental criteria for every single applicant to avoid any fair housing issues. That way, if an applicant brings something up or has any questions, you can direct them back to this criteria that you’ve established for any and all applicants. And there you have it. Those are our five tips to help you be the best landlord that you can be. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment and don’t forget to like and subscribe.