No, I have not been to the mountain top. These “Ten Commandments” are property management rules that I have learned over several years of working with tenants and property owners. These “commandments” may seem simple and obvious, but breaking them has turned out badly in the past.
I. Thou Shalt Screen Mercilessly
Any investment is a bit of a gamble. With property ownership you are betting on your tenants. Will they pay the rent on time? Will they keep the house in good shape and not destroy it through neglect or maliciousness? Your best protection is to screen your tenants before you offer them a lease. This means you have to do more than take the information on their application at face value, verify all the information they provide so you know you are getting the best tenants possible.
II. Thou Shalt Receive the Bond Before Handing over the Keys
Some property owners are tempted to waive the bond if they are having trouble filling a unit. Big mistake, it is better to adjust the rent and change your ad. The bond is the tenant's biggest motivation to leave you a clean house, which will save you more headaches down the track at move out time.
III. Thou Shalt Enforce the Rent Due Date
There may be very legitimate reasons for a tenant to be late with the rent. Regardless of why, one of the most basic property management rules is to follow through on your procedures when tenants are late. If you don’t, tenants will begin to feel they can let things slip in the future. Before you know it, rent payments become a tenants last priority.
IV. Thou Shalt Not Rent a Dirty House
This should be obvious. Moving into a messy house is a quick way to make your tenants unhappy. If you want your tenants to take good care of your house and leave it in better shape than when they moved in, the house must be spotless when they move in.
V. Thou Shalt Rent Vacant Property Quickly
Not only is a vacant property not making any money, it is actually draining money out of your pocket. You are always better off spending a bit extra on advertising in the right places than letting even a day go by without getting new tenants. Use our service Cubbi which will get your property noticed on the right sites.
VI. Thou Shalt Treat Tenants with Dignity
When maintenance and repair issues crop up, deal with them quickly to show your tenants you care about providing them with a good home. Treat your tenants with dignity and they will treat you and your property the same.
VII. Thou Shalt Plan Ahead for Expensive Repairs
Things break, sometimes catastrophically. It is up to you to get the repair done as quickly as possible. Start a fund by putting a little away each month for emergency repairs, that way you will not be hurt financially as bad if the water heater suddenly goes out or the roof starts leaking.
VIII. Thou Shalt Document EVERYTHING
In a dispute, the Tribunal will generally favour whomever has the best documentation to back up their case. Document everything involving your tenants, from the time they submit their application until they move out and you settle the bond.
IX. Thou Shalt Hire Professionals
It is not worth trying to save a few dollars on repairs by having the job done by “the friend of a friend”. They may claim they can save you some money, but if they mess up you have to pay twice. A professional stands behind his work, so the job will be done quickly and correctly.
X. Thou Shalt Keep Your Business and Your Personal Life Separated
Most tenants are terrific people, but remember they are your customers, not your friends. Mixing your business and your personal life causes a lot of unnecessary stress. It is not a good idea to rent to family members. If there are problems between you and your customers, there are simple and logical ways to resolve them. If the same problems occur between you and a friend or a family member, the extra emotional challenges make it 10 times harder to overcome.
These simple property management rules are lessons that I have learned from managing properties over many years.