The most important thing to know about being a landlord and managing your own property is that you don't have to be completely alone in the "adventure". There are many licensed real estate professionals that can help you be successful. Before getting my real estate license I used Cornerstone Business Group, Inc. and Mike Cooper to list my property for rent. On top of being a successful real estate investor and broker, Mike is also a property manager. His expertise was helpful in making the decision to manage my own property. Mike found and qualified a renter for my property and although Mike could have also helped by managing the property, I stepped up to do that part myself. Although I highly recommend using a licensed real estate agent to list your rental property, you can also do that part yourself. Just be prepared for scheduling and showing your property and become familiar with your rights and the rights of tenants under the law. Here are some resources that can help you with listing and screening your tenants:
After you've located a tenant for your property you're going to need a good lease. I believe this is likely the most important tool you have as a landlord. A good lease answers questions for the tenant before they even ask and protects you as the landlord should you ever have to go to court. There are some federal laws that govern the landlord tenant relationship and each state also has its own laws. Let me say this upfront, "I'm not an attorney. My advice should not be construed as legal advice." (my disclaimer) You should seek the help of a competent attorney to draft your lease. However, in my experience you'll likely need to be heavily involved with that process or even draft the original lease yourself before reviewing it with your attorney. In coming up with the lease for my property I started with several boiler plate leases for the state of West Virginia. Then using some advice from other property managers I crafted a lease that meets my needs. Here's some resources you can use:
- The Reluctant Landlord - A site run by a landlord. She shares her experiences in managing properties. I found her book titled "The Everything Lease Addendum" to be a valuable resource in crafting my lease. You should listen to this pod cast interview of her if you're going to manage your own property.
- Cozy Services Ltd. - A full suite of landlord services including listing, screening, background checks, and online rent collection.
I hope this post has been useful for those of you considering becoming a landlord. You can contact me if you have an questions or need help with your rental property.