Catering to the demands of multiple tenants makes property management a tough job. While fielding complaints and handling maintenance, papers get lost and things get overlooked.
To help the landlords out there get through (and hopefully prevent) some of the more difficult situations, here are our top 5 property management tips.
Landlord Tip No. 1: Write It Down
Writing everything down is the number one way to make a landlord's job easier. This doesn't only include leases, either. If you need to enter an occupied unit, notify the tenants via writing and keep a copy in a designated folder. Same goes for any other notices or warnings you hand out. It also might be wise to keep notes of any conversations in case of a later misunderstanding.
Landlord Tip No. 2: Don't Discriminate
Housing discrimination is a big problem in this country, which means it comes with big penalties. A successful housing discrimination suit results in a property owner paying damages, attorneys fees, and court costs.
Know the law--both federal and state. Federal law, governed by the Fair Housing Act, is pretty standard, but state laws vary and may be much broader.
Landlord Tip No. 3: Properly Handle Security Deposits
Security deposits are a huge contention between landlords and tenants, making this one of the most essential property management tips. Understand what you can and cannot collect as a security deposit and whether it needs to be kept in an interest-bearing account. More importantly, at the end of a lease, only make proper, itemized deductions from a security deposit, and return it in a timely manner.
Landlord Tip No. 4: Regularly Inspect Property
Remember that you are ultimately liable for what happens on your property even if a dangerous condition is caused by a tenant. Same goes for conditions that make a unit legally uninhabitable. Pop in now and again to make sure common areas are well-maintained and tenants aren't in need of repairs.
Landlord Tip No. 5: Understand Local Eviction Law
Evictions are the bane of any landlord's existence. One wrong move and the process can be delayed another month. If you want to handle evictions yourself, pay attention to dates, deadlines and notice requirements. Otherwise, call a real estate attorney--they've got evictions down to a science.