Have you recently had to move but don’t want to give up your investment properties? Consider being a long-distance landlord!
Being a landlord comes with many perks but it also carries a lot of responsibilities. You’ll need to inspect your units, market vacant ones, screen tenants, and collect rent. But there is a way to carry out these tasks even if you are doing them from a distance.
If you want to learn some tips and tricks on how to be an effective long-distance landlord, this is the article for you!
Find Trustworthy Tenants
Managing a rental property is always made easier when you have reliable tenants staying in the unit. You want to rent to someone who is going to pay their rent on time every month, reasonably maintain the unit during their stay, get along well with their neighbors, and report issues to your promptly.
In order to land such a tenant, you need to carry out an in-depth tenant screening. You should look into a prospective tenant’s rental history, and check their credit score and employment status. You’ll want to see if they have a relevant criminal history as well.
Finally, you’ll want to contact their references to get the best idea of who they are as a person and a tenant.
Be sure that the screening process must be in line with the provisions stated in the Fair Housing Act. If your tenant passes all your qualifying criteria, you’ll be able to rest easier knowing that the property is in good hands.
Having a great tenant will only get so far. You still need to be in contact with them. You want to be sure that you’re always up to date about any issues going on in the property or any grievances the tenant may have.
To stay in contact you want to have several lines of communication available. Make that the tenant knows when they can reach you by phone and what number to use. You’ll also want to make sure that you're checking your emails frequently and promise a response promptly.
Whatever methods of communication and time frame you establish, you want to stick to them. Therefore, if you say that you’ll respond to an email within 24 no matter if it’s a weekend or holiday, then you need to stick by that.
If you know in advance that you won’t be able to respond to calls or emails then you need to have backup contact and share this with your tenants.
Tenants will be more likely to renew their lease if they are happy and if they feel as those their landlord is paying attention to their needs.
Visit the Property on an Annual Basis
You want to make sure that you’re still checking in on the property in person from time to time. Even if you have a team that you trust and a good tenant in the unit, not compare to seeing how your property is doing with your own eyes.
There are even some tax benefits that are available to landlords with out-of-state rentals. This means that the cost of a hotel stay, plane ticket, gas, or meals could be written off. If you plan on doing this however you’ll want to keep your receipts and detailed records of dates and expenses to prove that they are associated with traveling to your rentals.
Keep Track of the Competition
As a long-distance landlord, it’s natural to fall a little out of touch with the local market and competition. That said, failing to keep up with what’s going on in the regions where your properties are located could end up costing you.
You need to ensure that you stay up-to-date on local regulations. If a rental law changes on a local level and you aren’t aware of it, this could put you and your investment at risk. You’ll also what to keep up with local economic and real estate market trends.
If for instance, rent prices are decreasing across the board in that area and you’re unaware of it, you risk seeing long periods of vacancy and high rates of tenant turnover. On the other hand, if your rent prices are lower than the competition, this could mean that you’re leaving money on the table.
If you want to protect your investment and help it grow then you want to ensure that you’re always informed of the market and legal trends in the areas where your rentals are located.
Have a Local Team
There are certain issues and day-to-day responsibilities that are better handled in person. That’s why, as a long-distance landlord, it’s best to establish a local team that you can rely on.
The last thing you want is to get news of a water leak in your property and then have to spend time calling local vendors and checking their references. Having a trusted and vetted contractor that you can depend on will ease your stress and that of your tenants. It’s best to have someone local for maintenance and legal needs.
What’s more, if you establish a strong working relationship with local vendors they may be more willing to extend discounts to you offering you more savings.
Being a long-distance landlord is doable but it still takes a lot of work a dedication. Make sure that you have clean lines of communication, a team you can trust, a qualified tenant, annual check-ins, and remain up-to-date on local policies and trends. If this seems daunting, you can always hire a local property management company.
The team at Gifford Properties & Management can help you manage your rentals and maximize your ROI. Contact us today to learn more about our services!