Taking a leap of faith and entering into the property management world is a pivotal period of excitement and uncertainty. There are many different aspects of property management you’ll need to learn – after all, it is now your new business. However, we are here to ensure you have some understanding of the basics, as well as some helpful do’s and don’ts. While this may feel overwhelming at times, don’t forget to reflect on why you decided to take the jump into real estate investing in the first place. Read up on our top tips, take it one day at a time, and you’ll be good to go.

Screen Tenants

While this may seem like common sense, it is one of the most important principles of property management. What’s more, while you will likely receive a mountain of applications, it is important to weed through the unqualified applicants. Remember, just because they are nice people doesn’t mean they are going to be quality tenants. These are the people you are entrusting to take care of your property, and they can make or break your experience as a landlord. As such, be sure to run background checks, credit score, renting history, and proof of income – these are just some of the bases you are going to want to cover. Besides, nothing is worse than realizing too late in the game that the tenants you chose had skeletons hiding in their closet (figuratively, of course).

Get Everything In Writing (Rental Application)

This is another step that is going to ensure you are covering all of your bases. This is where you will need to start thinking about what you want to allow and what you do not. Are you going to allow pets? Or will you charge a pet fee? What about smoking or late rent? There are many different things to carefully think about in regards to your rental application. While this can seem tedious, a thorough rental application will save you time and money later down the road. Instead, think of the rental application as your opportunity to set the standards and create a strong landlord-tenant relationship. Don’t be afraid to be thorough and strict: The tenant is the one applying, not you.

Additionally, make sure to put everything in writing, even if there are things you and your tenant discuss in-person. In the unfortunate case of anything going downhill and your tenant deciding to take legal action, it is better to be over prepared and have all of your documentation ready to go.

Learn the Laws

You have to understand the laws of your state and county. They are ever-changing and require constant awareness. As such, it is a good idea to subscribe to your city and county newsletter, follow them on social media, and/or visit their website regularly to stay on top of rules and regulations. It is your responsibility to know the laws and ensure you are following them correctly. For example, it is important to know how to properly evict a tenant if that is ever needed. Also, there are state and federal laws that prohibit housing discrimination, so it’s important to know what you are and are not allowed to do. For more information about rental laws check out our blog, 6 Rental Laws Your Never Want to Break.

Inspect Your Property

As landlords and property managers, silence may seem like a good thing, and when everything is said and done, it usually is. However, don’t wait until there is a problem to inspect your property. Inspecting your property occasionally can stop problems before they become costly mistakes. Keeping an eye on your property is good management practice and may help you save money in the long run. For example, make sure the outside of your property is well maintained, and, if there is a common area, ensure it is clean and orderly. These are also practices that will keep quality tenants in your units. If you have created a solid, professional relationship with your tenants, they usually will notify you of anything that may need to be addressed.

These are some basic practices that can help you take the stress out of being a landlord while also keeping you one step ahead. Be prepared and understand that being a landlord comes with many hurdles, but they are never too big if you are willing to put in the work!