Management Tips

Below are discussions and tips that have been shared by landlords nationwide.  Please be sure to know the applicable laws in your area as they may differ from some of the offered suggestions. 

A landlord recently shared a personal crisis that after reading it, which can serve as a wake-up call for many landlords. 

WAKE UP CALL!

“Like many of you, my spouse and I do the real estate investment thing sort of together, but I do most of it. My hubby helps when I specifically ask him to. Well, I woke up early morning about 4 am and had him take me to the emergency room – thought I had appendicitis. It turned out to be much worse (please keep me in your prayers as I start the cancer battle). Before noon, I was in emergency surgery with a large vertical incision.

Meanwhile, the landlord or property manager job never stops. On the 11th, I got an email about a roof leak. On the 13th I got a text about a toilet. Meanwhile, we have a 4-plex under construction and a bunch of stuff in my house to go over … thank goodness for my iPad, cell phone, and husband.

I texted the roofer from the hospital bed. That one is fixed. Called a plumber from the hospital bed. Working on the toilet issue (plumber can’t find anything wrong, thinking something fell in that should not have.)

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Gave husband a list of what needed to be delivered to the new construction site, and what else to do (new locks for front doors, swap out the existing locks and had two keys plus two new screws to the wall key boxes to the general contractor (GC) If I had needed to, I could have sent the GC into my house in my sun room to get what he needed. I have August locks in my home, and can open the locks remotely from anywhere.

I was in the hospital for a week. Still laid up at home, but all going well. I’ve got my books in QuickBooks Online these days, and my accountant finished my 1065 while I was in the hospital recovering. I also sent two invoices to travel nurses for their rent while in there. It isn’t quite landlording on autopilot, because I’m active, but things can go without me a few days and even when crazy happens, it is okay.

Oh, and while I was there, we had an electrical issue at our own home. When the hubby called me to tell me that we had no power in our main level, and he couldn’t find anything wrong in the breaker box, I was able to call my favorite handyman at 9 pm. We have two different electrical systems in our home, one upstairs and one on main level. It splits at the meter. Anyway, my husband had already tried the main breaker box. It wasn’t thrown. The handyman showed him the breaker that was in the main split box after the meter that hubby didn’t know about (he never thought about it). That was the culprit. No clue as to why, and once that one was reset, all was well.

Thank goodness for a phone full of people to call. Now, what is in your pocket for an unexpected week-long stay? Can you landlord on near-autopilot? Do you have people in place?

CAN YOU WORK WITH ME?

One successful landlord has shared on our popular Q&A Forum a series of common questions he gets asked by applicants and how he responds to them. Here is one example of a common question and his response:

Applicant: “Can you work with me on (the 1st month’s rent/the deposit)?”

Landlord: “No, we already have contractors.” Or just “No”.

 

Here’s the same question and MY response:

 

Applicant: “Can you work with me on (the 1st month’s rent/the deposit)?”

My response: “Yes, if you are approved for the property, our lease offers qualified residents two options for the move-in payment requirements. You can:

  1. Pay the 1st month’s rent and deposit at time of move in, OR
  2. Increase the monthly rent going forward by 10% and pay that amount, and we will reduce the required security deposit by half. It’s your choice.”

DON’T LEAVE IT UP TO THE JUDGE!

An experienced landlord has learned the hard way about the importance of coming to an agreement with a resident or former resident PRIOR to going before the judge. Here’s the landlord’s account in his own words of what happened when he and a resident went to court regarding non-payment of rent.

“Had eviction court yesterday. It’s been six months since our last one. I had already talked with the resident and let him get his things out a couple of weeks ago. The situation was a six-month marriage gone bad. We went before the judge. We sat at the same table. The judge grinned and said, ‘Are you two together? I know Mr. [name of landlord], but are you the defendant?’

Resident – Yes, your honor.

Judge – I am going to guess that you two have come to an agreement since I never have a landlord and resident sit together for small claims and an eviction.

The resident answered yes and then proceeded to inform the judge we had worked out agreement of $100 per paycheck garnishment. All I said during whole time was ‘Thank you’ when we left. Then outside of the courtroom I took the resident to the clerk’s office where he would go when he can pay extra.

The story above is why I keep communicating with residents as much as I can before going to court. I meet with the tenant before court time. It’s uncomfortable as heck for them but I tell them, “Let’s not let the judge decide something we both don’t want. Let’s agree on something that you can easily do. We want this off your record as fast as possible”

I really just tell them it’s business and life happens. Now let’s fix this and move on. Nothing personal. I am just the manager.

They appreciate that I am not a jerk about it. I then ask what they can afford to get garnished. As long as it’s something, we are good. Get the tenant to agree to terms you both can work with.

 

The tips in this column are shared by regular contributors to the popular MrLandlord.com 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 LandlordingAdvice.com, where you can ask landlording questions and seek advice of other landlords 24 hours a day.