This article was posted on Tuesday, Aug 01, 2023

Note to readers:  The below tips are shared by landlords nationwide –please be sure to check the rental laws in your jurisdiction as they may differ from suggestions in this article.


Do You Vacation?

Summer is on us and many landlords, like others, wish to go on vacation. The big question mom and pop landlords often ask:  “For all of you “hands-on / DIY / one man team / mom and pop landlords”: Do you take vacations? If so, what do you do for coverage in case anything goes wrong while you are away?”


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Here are responses from six landlords who have learned how to handle resident issues while on vacation. From these suggested “coverage” plans, you should be able to find one (or a modified version) that can work for you. So make plans now to take that needed vacation for you and your family.


  1. Yes, I vacation and do it often. I run my business utilizing my cell phone contacts. I leave the keys and Lowe’s credit card on my desk just in case (though never had to instruct anyone to get those). I also pay attention to different times of the month, when it’s easier to be away. For us, it’s the third week of the month.


  1. I use AT&T international plan extensively so I can check google voice pretty much anywhere in the world. $10/day while I’m gone. Pretty simple to text the plumber, electrician, or handyman and give them the tenant’s contact and address to coordinate the repairs. (And I don’t notify tenants. For some reason when you tell them you’ll be out of town they will remember every non-emergency they need fixed the moment you leave).


  1. Team up with a couple of other landlords in your area. This will allow for someone with real-life local experience to be around when you are not.


  1. I found a property management company willing to provide “vacation coverage”. We settled on a per-week fee and if they need to do anything there is an hourly fee. I used them for my son’s wedding last fall to enjoy my time knowing I could call them if needed. All my family was at the wedding, so I wouldn’t have had backup at home. For my vacation to Sicily, I was unsure if we would be connected or off the grid at times, so I notified all tenants of the emergency phone coverage. I have paid for 3 trips and not needed them. But for my peace of mind, it is worth the cost.


  1. The last three times I’ve been on vacation, it hasn’t been an issue. My handyman / contractors are just a phone call or text message away. It’s important to cultivate business relationships. We are more successful when we have professionals whom we can rely on to take care of business. Sadly, freedom and vacations are where the DIY everything landlord suffers. If they’re out of town and something goes wrong, business grinds to a halt. I should know; I used to be one. Turnovers were left sitting. Tenant complaints weren’t getting resolved. What a mess! But hey, I “saved” $50! *grins* And I ATE a week of vacancy!

The other trick I have up my sleeve is a buddy whom I’ve known since college who is a realtor and former real estate investor. He’s a very personable fellow and over the years, he’s sold me several million $$$ in real estate. He has offered repeatedly, “Hey if you’re ever out of town and need a set of eyes on something just let me know.” So, if I absolutely needed someone representing me in person, as an agent, he’s fully and legally qualified to do so on an ad hoc basis via his brokerage. I could hire him to be my PM for a week if anything comes up.


  1. I go on multiple long-term vacations abroad every year. I drill into my tenants that the only way to contact me is via email. I always have email access. Phone service can be problematic along with large time differences. I do not tell tenants I am gone. I communicate via email all the time whether I am local or not. I have a list of service providers, whom I can email or text. They know I am on vacation and they accept Venmo or Zelle payments. I have a local friend with my credit card if it is needed. I have replaced a rental HVAC unit while on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, going from Australia to Hawaii. I have the service provider and the tenant provide pictures before I make any payments. I asked the tenant to confirm that they are happy with the service. I handle repairs while on vacation the same way I do when I am local.


What Do You Want?

The big question most rental owners ultimately must ask themselves is: Do you want to be a landlord/handyman or a real estate investor? One of the most successful real estate investors on our popular Landlord Q&A Forum known as Sid (MO), who transitioned from landlord/handyman to investor, recently responded to another landlord who reminded him of how he used to do so much of the typical handyman stuff “traditional” landlords do. I believe that the thought-provoking words Sid shared need to be read by many landlords, perhaps even you. So I share his comments in this article below:

He (the traditional landlord), talked about doing a floor himself and the reasons why he did that. I started out the exact same way. But what I found was that with 12 rental units, I was always running around in circles, never getting ahead. Meager profits. Long nights and weekends. Missing my wife and kids. Cuts, bruises, and a garage full of every little bit of “this and that” imaginable. Drywall, 8 different buckets of my one paint color with different addresses written on them, 2x4s, 20 different sizes of screws, etc. For a while, I couldn’t park one of our two cars in there.

This was the life I anticipated doing until all the mortgages were paid off in….15-20 years. Egad!

Then several years ago Brad 20K (another successful investor and mentor on our Landlord Forum) asked me, “What do you want out of all this: to be a DIY handyman or a real estate investor?”  I answered “real estate investor”.

He then kindly proceeded to tell me why I was failing to reach my goals. I said I wanted one thing, but my actions showed I wanted something else. I wanted to save every penny. I wanted to be self-reliant. I wanted the tools and the tricks to impress friends with how handy I was (hey, I laid 6 tile floors!…Who does that?!?).

Then I realized…What kind of investor DOES that? I had studied all the big players: none of them did everything. They did THE thing that only they were good at. Everything else was outsourced, delegated, hired out, etc. They kept a steady hand on the tiller while looking further to distant shores.

Over the years at several Mr. LL Conventions, Jeffrey (Mr. Landlord) reinforced this concept with this Level 1-5 of landlording. Maybe he’ll be kind enough to repeat the specifics of it here, but basically, Level 1 / 2 landlord was what I was: I was down in the weeds, doing everything, making small profits, and leaving very little room for growth. Had I stayed on that trajectory, there’s no way I’d be where I am today. I had to change my thinking and align my actions to reach my actual goals.

So, today I think it’s good to ask ourselves: “What do I want?” There’s no wrong answer, but I think the trick I learned is we need to continually work hard at aligning our actions with our desires. I could be the world’s best DIY landlord and probably never own more than 10 units, and someday I’d have 10 paid-off houses and know how to use every tool from a roto-zip to a Sawzall to a planer. A fine achievement, to be sure, and I’m not throwing shade on it at all.

But that’s not why I got into the biz. I got into it because it was exciting. I said I wanted to be a wealthy investor who could do a lot of good, have a lot of fun, and enjoy the ride while building a family legacy. It really is true that until I changed my mind, my goals weren’t getting any closer…or rather, they were only inching forward instead of propelling us forward.

All the greats seem to have this in common: they align their actions with their desires. Patrick Mahomes, 2-time Super Bowl winning QB for the KC Chiefs, spends days on end training to be the best QB. He practices throwing, running, and somehow trains to have eyes in the back of his head. He doesn’t spend days learning how to fix his toilet so he doesn’t have to call a plumber. Now maybe he does know how to do that, but my guess is his father, who was an MLB player, taught him differently. Likewise, Warren Buffet learned how to find companies that had undervalued stocks: he didn’t spend time trying to figure out how to change a ceiling fan.

So…What do you want? Are your actions creating results that are getting there? What was your dream 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago? Have you hit it yet? If not, then why not? This applies to not only investing, but also to families, friendships, fitness goals, intellectual development, and a host of other endeavors in which we strive to excel. It ain’t all just about the money.

It boils down to one question. What needs to change: other people or you?  Enjoy your time thinking about it!


The tips in this column are shared by regular contributors to the popular Q&A forum, by real estate authors and by Jeffrey Taylor, [email protected]. To receive a free sample of the Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at, where you can ask landlording questions and seek advice of other landlords 24 hours a day.