1. Not Running Your Rental Property Like a Business.
Some landlords do a terrible job at running their business.
It might be because they see it as a “side-gig” or a hobby” more than a business. However, when you treat your business with the respect, systems, and organization that you would treat any other business venture, amazing things can happen.
What contingency plans do you have in place so maintenance concerns can be resolved without your direct involvement (in case you happen to go on vacation the day something major happens)?
When you shift your view as a landlord to a “business owner” — and treat your company as such – you will find far greater success.
2. Don’t discriminate, but screen, screen, screen.
Perhaps the biggest error a landlord can make is letting in the wrong person. This can lead to late rent, trashed homes, and evictions.
Do you think a car lot would give you a zero interest loan if they knew you didn’t have any income and a deathly low credit score? Make sure tenants have a stable income, no recent evictions, no recent felonies, and good reference from past landlords.
Be careful not to screen out tenants based on any of the protected classes, or you could find yourself in a lawsuit.
3. Treat Your Tenants with Respect.
Look — we don’t have to like our tenants. However, don’t allow personal feelings to get in the way of business. Tenants want to be treated fairly and be seen as an equal human, because they are (no matter your personal feelings toward them.)
Just because you own some rental property doesn’t make you a better person — so don’t act like it. Treat each tenant with dignity and respect and it will come back to you in success.
4. Don’t Be Too Nice.
Your job as a landlord is to be fair, not to be nice. Being too “nice” will give your tenants and others the invitation to take advantage of you.
If the lease says rent is due on the first, expect your tenants oblige. By allowing your tenant to break the rules, you open yourself up to years of struggle and compromise that will ultimately lead to huge financial losses. There is a difference between respectful and being nice.
5. Ask questions & get help.
I’ve been in the property management business for 10 years and I still learn something new every day. I don’t expect that to stop either. Ask questions. Get opinions. Whether it’s a phone number for a service provider, help with an eviction, or just advice, reach out to other landlords for help.
I love to talk to other property managers! We always walk away from the conversation smarter than we were when we began it.
6. Not using an attorney if you have an LLC.
If you happen to hold your rental properties in an LLC in Connecticut, you personally cannot represent your LLC in court during the eviction process. You must have a lawyer represent your LLC during the eviction process.
It is not because it is difficult or complicated to file an eviction or to go in front of a judge. In fact, with a little coaching, almost anyone can do it. The problem stems from the fact that the LLC is legally a separate entity from you. It is legally another person. So if you file for eviction and go to court to represent “your” LLC, you are technically representing someone else in court. By representing someone else, you are practicing law without a license.
Judges generally do not like folks in their courtrooms practicing law without a license. When they realize that you are, they will throw your case out. That may have been just an honest mistake on your part, but if you thought you were going to save money you were wrong. You are now actually even deeper in the hole because you have lost even more rent. Plus you have lost time. And as they say, time is money.
Lawyers live for technicalities and this component of the Lawyer Employment Protection Act is just something you have to follow if you hold your properties in an LLC.