Whether you’re an “accidental landlord” or you’ve purchased a rental property in West Palm Beach with the intention of creating a steady income stream, you need to know a few things about getting the most from your house or condo. These seven tips for first-time income property owners will help you maximize your income.
7 Tips for First-Time Landlords
Before you do anything, know that you probably need a property manager who can find you qualified tenants and serve as the go-between for you and those tenants when issues arise, rent payments come in, and leases need to be renewed. For most investment property owners, the first order of business is hiring a West Palm Beach property management company. If you don’t work with a property management company that handles all the details, these seven tips will be invaluable to you (and they’re only a fraction of things that property managers do).
#1: Be Tough
When you own a rental property, you can’t rent to just anyone – even if that person has a sad story and you want to help. You still have to check credit, perform the appropriate background checks and verify employment. (The same is true for rent; if there’s an issue, you have to be firm about late fees and, in some cases, eviction.)
#2: Be Selective About Pet Policies
Whether or not you’re an animal-lover, you need to know the pros and cons of allowing pets in your rental property. Should you allow dogs, but not cats? What about pets under a certain weight? What’s your policy on rodents? If you decide to allow pets, you’ll have to charge a nonrefundable pet deposit to cover extra cleaning costs you’ll incur when your tenants move out. There are a few other issues you can discuss with your property manager, as well.
#3: Be Very, VERY Clear on Fair Housing Laws
A lot of first-time income property owners aren’t familiar with the Fair Housing Act, and that can spell tremendous legal trouble. Before you even think about advertising your property for rent, make sure you completely understand your obligations as a landlord under fair housing laws.
#4: Know Which Renovations Result in Higher Rent
You can’t invest in renovations or improvements that won’t increase your rental income or you’ll lose money. Sure, it’s great to add granite countertops and hardwood floors in a home that doesn’t already have them; however, if the house is in an area where those things just won’t bring higher rental income, the improvements won’t pay off for you.
#5: Collect Rent Online
Forget about checks – they’re inconvenient and outdated. Have your tenants pay rent online so you can keep a more accurate accounting of what comes in (which is particularly helpful at tax time) and so you can get your money faster.
#6: Keep Perfect Records
Your bookkeeping skills really need to be on-point if you’re a rental property owner. Everything you do, from the smallest work order to the biggest security deposit, has to be on paper (that’s a figurative term; everything you do with your rental property should be digitized).
#7: Never Cut Corners
You can’t cut corners on anything when you’re renting out a property – doing so could land you in legal hot water. You’ll need to have complete documentation (including condition reports, a state-specific lease that a lawyer has reviewed, locally required disclosures and more) on everything, and when you make repairs, they have to be quality repairs or you’ll end up costing yourself even more money in the long run.
Do You Need to Talk to the West Palm Beach Property Management Pros?
Rather than going through all this yourself, you may want to talk to a West Palm Beach property management company that can tackle it all for you.
Here’s what you need to know (in addition to the fact that we handle all these things and more for our clients):
- Our rates are extremely competitive, and we don’t charge you until you make money
- We have a 21-day turnaround average, which means on average, we have a new tenant ready to move in within 21 days of the old tenant moving out
- We do everything online and give you access to it, from work orders to rental payments
When you’re ready to talk about your options, call us at 561-766-2195. We can help you get the most from your income property.