When you go to a dinner party and someone asks you what you do, what do you say? Chances are, you don’t tell people, “I’m a landlord!”
Why not? Because it has decidedly negative connotations attached to it. When people hear the word “landlord,” they picture a grumpy old man who is constantly in people’s business, slapping notices on doors, and demanding payment. They imagine someone who charges exorbitant rent prices for a dilapidated house or apartment that is in dire need of being fixed up.
But as is the case in most areas of life, stereotypes aren’t always what they appear to be. Sure, there’s some original layer of truth that gave way to the generalization in the first place. However, it’s often a gross overgeneralization for the majority.
As you know, not all landlords are bad people. In fact, many – perhaps you included – are hardworking people who are just trying to generate some extra income to provide for their families. Like any industry or group, there are some bad apples. But there are also plenty of good folks.
Unfortunately, because of the historically negative perception, you have to go above and beyond to overcome these prejudices and prove that you’re someone your tenants can like and trust.
6 Tips for Being a ‘Good’ Landlord
As a landlord, you are a business owner. Your properties are your little companies and your tenants are your customers. And as is the case in any business, the key to long-term success is to keep the customer happy. Here are several ways landlords do this, ethically and honestly.
- Comply With Laws and Regulations
Make sure you are familiar with and comply with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations related to renting properties, including fair housing laws, safety codes, and zoning laws. It can be challenging to keep up with all of the rules out there, but do your best to use common sense. Treat others fairly and do what seems right. If there’s ever a question in your mind (or a gut feeling) that you’re doing something wrong, do your homework and find out what the law says.
- Don’t Discriminate
Do not discriminate against tenants based on factors such as race, gender, religion, national origin, or disability. Not only is this illegal, but it’s ethically wrong. Treat every tenant equally and give equal opportunity for people to live in your properties.
- Take Care of the Property
Keep the property in a safe and livable condition, and make repairs in a timely manner when necessary. This includes basic repairs, like plumbing, appliances, electrical, HVAC, etc. But it also includes “optional” things like updating finishes every few years to keep the property looking warm and inviting.
- Get Help and Support (When Needed)
As your rental portfolio grows and you add new properties, you’ll begin to get stretched thinner and thinner. If you aren’t careful, this can lead you to unintentionally neglect the needs of your tenants. One way to avoid this is to hire a property management company to oversee the day-to-day needs of your properties.
- Prioritize Open Communication
Be responsive to tenants’ concerns and requests, and keep them informed of any changes or issues related to the property. Don’t wait until something is wrong to talk with tenants. Be open and transparent all of the time. This starts at the very beginning of your relationship – clearly stating all terms and conditions of the tenancy in the lease agreement, including rent, security deposit, and late fees.
- Handle Legal Matters Ethically
If you need to evict a tenant, make sure you follow all legal procedures and give adequate notice before proceeding. Avoid retaliatory evictions, and don’t evict a tenant for complaining about repairs or other issues. Follow the law very carefully and extend a reasonable level of leniency to people. (Never assume the worst. Always assume that people are trying their best to do the right things.)
Follow the Golden Rule
At the end of the day, following the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is the best rule of thumb for landlords. If you treat others with care, compassion, and trust, you’ll almost always be extended the same good fortune.