This article was posted on Friday, Sep 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 Contractors Know Where You Live?

There are a couple of reasons why it may not be to your advantage for people who do work for you to know where you live.

  • If there is ever a falling out between you, it’s probably best that they do not know where you live.
  • Even if you trust the contractor, you don’t know all their friends or family members who, if desperate enough for money for whatever reason (perhaps drugs), see your home as a potential target since everyone knows landlords are rich.
  • If you are in a very nice home, they may at some point become jealous, resentful, or at a minimum want to charge you higher rates. This is because from their standpoint (after seeing where you live), you can obviously afford to pay more.

Check with “Prior” Landlord

When screening rental applicants, always check with their prior landlord, not just their current landlord. As one rental property owner shared who just dodged a bullet: “The landlord may give a good reference because they want to get rid of the tenant. We just had that happen. The prior landlord kept the $2,000 deposit and is still owed over $3,500 in damages. We passed on this potential tenant!

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Faucets, Drains and Tubs

Let’s focus for a moment on maintenance issues very common to rental property owners, and highlight a couple of landlord discussions on faucets, drains and tubs.

A landlord asks other rental owners how should he or she handle a resident who calls about a broken knob on the kitchen sink and a clogged drain in the bathroom. The discussion that followed hit on several maintenance tips worth considering, including the first tip regarding the choice of faucets and six practical and proven tips on ways to handle minor drain clogs:

1. Consider not using the cheapest disposable faucets, but instead replace the faucet with a good solid brand like Pfister or mid-grade Delta. The added cost of a good fixture is well worth reducing future problems and repeated labor charges, which are often higher than the cost of the fixture.

2. As a welcome (move-in) gift, give a “zip-it” for the sinks. Even take a few minutes to show residents how to use it and tell them to try that if they ever have a clog. In most cases, the zip-it will grab any hair through the drain opening and pull it out, something they can do without your help. The zip-it only costs $3-5.

3. At move-in, another gift option is to give strainers for each drain and a complementary drain maintenance product (one landlord prefers Roebic over zip-it).

4. Have a plumber go by and change out the drain assembly. If you replace a pop-up with a strainer assembly it will eliminate 99.9% of the hair and other debris problems in the future.

5. Be sure your lease addresses plumbing stoppages and whether or not they are the tenant’s responsibility. However, that does not mean that the resident determines who will fix it. Work must be done by someone authorized by the landlord, and the resident will be charged.

6. Develop a great relationship with a plumber and use that same plumber for all your service calls. In exchange, he agrees to charge you a lower flat rate to clear any minor drain clogs. Your residents pay directly to the plumber. This strategy has worked very well for one landlord. “The same plumber will come out for all drain clogs and will even train the tenants to take better care when using the drains, i.e. USING the drain strainers and cleaning them so they are not tempted to take them out, which I find many do. Also not charging so much that the residents will not call you and try to do it themselves. We only use one plumber, he charges my residents $59 to unclog a drain unless it is more than a clog that takes more time. It helps that we use that one plumber for all our plumber needs, large and small. If we get tickets for an event, etc. we offer them to him, etc.”

7. Hit the drain with the Green Gobbler crystals. The bathroom drain in one rental I had was very slow, almost stopped up. Tried a snake, tried a pressure bladder, but there was minimal improvement. I used the Green Gobbler overnight 2x, and now the bathroom drain flows like a new system.

Keep Your Residents Longer

You know how it goes – you finally get a great resident who pays on time, keeps the property in good shape, and is a pleasure to work with. But a year later they give notice and move out. Now you’re back to square one, dealing with the hassles of turnover. High resident turnover kills your cash flow. So how can you convince your best residents to stick around longer?

After 38 years as a landlord, I’ve learned a few tricks. Let me share a couple of my favorite strategies for keeping great residents in place year after year:

1. Give Anniversary Gifts

Most leases run for 12 months. So around the 9th or 10th month, it’s time for residents to decide if they’ll renew or move out. Don’t just hope they’ll stay – give them an incentive. It could be an anniversary gift (property upgrade, something unique to your rental), discount on the next month’s rent, or a gift certificate perhaps to their favorite restaurant. The bonus or gift card says “Thanks for being a great resident this past year and we look forward to serving you for another year.” It gets them thinking about the future rather than moving out.

2. Offer a Maintenance Guarantee

When something breaks, residents get frustrated fast. But not my residents – I have a 72 hour guarantee. We aim to resolve any issues that are our responsibilities within 3 days or the resident gets a prorated credit on rent after the third day. Guaranteed response keeps residents happy. It also prevents little problems from spiraling into bigger headaches. Prompt or guaranteed maintenance fixes show I care and value my residents.

The key is making residents feel appreciated from move-in to move-out. Anniversary gifts and guaranteed repairs all contribute. Try implementing one of these strategies tailored to your properties. If you make residents feel like winners, they’ll want to keep on winning with you. That saves you time and money down the road. Let me know if these tips help you keep your 3-Star residents in place longer!


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.