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5 Things You Should Know Before Becoming a Landlord

Learn the Challenges and the Rewards

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If you are considering a career as a landlord, there are some things you need to know first. Here are five things you should know before becoming a landlord.

1. Being a Landlord Is Not a 9 to 5 Job

The daily life of a landlord is much more impromptu than structured. It is not the type of life where you get to work at 9:00 A.M, go to lunch at noon and leave at 5:00 P.M. One day you may have one hour of work to do while the next you may have fifteen hours of work.

Your daily obligations can also change on a dime. You may be expecting to go to your property for ten minutes to collect rent, but when you get there, your tenant asks if you can look at a small leak they have. You have three choices:

  1. You can disregard their request.
  2. You can call a plumber or handyman to look at the problem.
  3. You can spend the time to immediately troubleshoot the problem.
If you decide to address the problem immediately, your ten minute rent collection can quickly become a three hour ordeal.

2. A Landlord Wears Many Hats

It is hard to truly define what a landlord does because a landlord does so many different things. You must be able to adapt to these different roles to have a successful career as a landlord. Here are some examples of the roles a landlord plays:

  • Realtor
  • Salesperson
  • Detective
  • Negotiator
  • Debt Collector
  • Repairman
  • Therapist/Counselor
  • Supervisor/Watchdog
See Also: The Roles of a Landlord

3. There Are Legal Rules You Must Follow

Many people think, I’ll buy a property, rent it out and make some money; easy enough. If it were that easy then everyone would do it. There are many legal rules you must abide by when you become a landlord.

For example:
  • There are things you can and cannot ask when interviewing perspective tenants.

  • There are Fair Housing Laws which dictate what is considered discrimination.

  • There are certain ways you must handle a tenant’s security deposit.

  • There are certain housing safety codes your property must abide by- such as hard wiring smoke detectors or properly handling a lead-based paint hazard.

  • There are health codes to adhere to- such as providing working plumbing and freedom from insect or rodent infestation.

  • There are also proper and legal ways to evict a tenant.

4. There Is a Learning Curve

You could be a very intelligent person, but if you do not have experience being a landlord, you will inevitably hit some bumps in the road and unfortunately some craters as well. There is only so much you can learn from reading or from speaking with others. This is the type of career where real life experience is often the best teacher.

In landlording, one plus two does not always equal three. For example, your tenant sees a mouse. Logically, you call an exterminator to get rid of the problem. However, when the exterminator comes, they go into the crawl space and notice that you also have extensive mold developing. Your open and shut case of getting rid of a mouse has now become a mouse problem and a mold problem, and probably four times as expensive as you had budgeted for.

Another example of a learning curve is when you select tenants for your property. When you first start out, you go through all the typical steps to screen a tenant. You think you’re doing everything right, but one month later you’re having problems and are forced to evict the tenant.

After you have been a landlord for a while, you rely on the logical steps, but also on your instincts to select the right tenants for your property. You may find that tenants who answer rental ads on Craigslist are higher quality than those who answer rental ads in the newspaper or that people who view the apartment on weekends or after normal work hours are higher quality than those who view it at 1:00 P.M. on a weekday.

5. It Is Very Rewarding Work

Yes, there are the headaches and the struggles that come with the life of a landlord, but there are also great rewards. Of course there is the monetary reward. There is the reward of personal freedom that comes from being your own boss. There is also the pride that comes from seeing what you have been able to build up and maintain with your hard work.

You will develop personal relationships with your tenants. The fact that you are able to provide a home for another human being is an accomplishment in and of itself. You will see children grow and tenants come and go, but you can take pride in the fact that your property has provided a home for all these people, and will do so for years to come. In addition to providing a home for others, you also have the opportunity to leave a nest egg for your own family.

Next: The Roles of a Landlord
Back to: What Are the Responsibilities of a Landlord?
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