This article was posted on Monday, Jul 01, 2013

We asked ten rental property owners to share what they believe is the single best piece of landlording advice that they have ever received. Here are their school of hard knocks words of wisdom: 

1) Like Reagan said, “Trust but verify”.
2) Treat residents well!
3) Hang out with like-minded people. Ask to shadow a successful landlord in your area.
4) Don’t underestimate the actual cost of owning real estate! Many studies indicate total expenses including vacancy, etc. will average around 50% of gross income.
5) Compared to a bad resident, a vacancy is a delight.
6) Put your rental criteria in writing.
7) Figure out who you want to rent to and only buy/fix properties they will rent.
8) The landlord is in charge. The resident is not!
9) Make sure you have a fantastic lease that covers everything – Everything.
10) Five years from now YOU WILL BE the books you read, the CDs you listen to, and the people you associate with. Wealth creation is between the ears.


Many of you veterans out there may already know all of this, but just in case, I wanted to share “the system” that has three for three of my last vacancies at a one day turn over.

Step 1: Communication with current residents. Make sure you get that 30 day notice of intent to renew or move. I contact them 45 days out from expiration of current lease. If I hear nothing by 30 days out, then we’re on for another month. Repeat this step at middle of next month. Get their desire in writing, signed, and dated!

Step 2: Start advertising. I get my Craigslist and postlet ads up around the first of the month. Renew the post every two days or as often as allowed.

Step 3: Communicate bonus programs to the current residents. $100 if they bring me a qualified prospect who signs a lease (and pays!). $50 if I get someone on my own prior to their move out to pre-lease, and as a thank you for them keeping the place nice enough to show and being accommodating to repeat showings. Yeah, my lease says they have to do it anyway for free BUT this encourages compliance and they say nice things about me to the prospect too!

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Step 4: Get an “anytime is fine” showing agreement with residents. Basically, anytime between X and Y times it’s okay for me to show the rental with 30 minutes notice ahead of time. Or get them to agree to show it for you when they’re home. Saves gas, saves time, and it’s less stress.

Step 5: While doing showings, make the handyman provide a fix-it list for repairs as soon as the old residents are done moving out.

Step 6: One week out, line up your cleaning / maintenance / carpet-scrubbing crew(s). Coordinate so they aren’t stepping on each other to get it done the day resident moves out, if possible. If all else fails and it’s a fairly clean turnover, you can probably leave the maintenance for last unless there’s a major issue that affects habitability. The cleaning gal shows up in the morning, carpet scrubbers finish up in the evening.  The next day everything is dry and ready for new resident.

Step 7: Fax copy of the lease (or email the lease as an attachment) to resident three days prior to signing to ensure they have ample time to review and ask questions. Remind them that you need the rent and deposit in certified funds (no personal checks, thank you) when you meet to sign the lease. No money, no keys, no signing anything.

Step 8: Day prior to lease begins. Make sure utilities are switched over effective the first day of the lease. Call the power company or ask the resident to show you a receipt as proof of service.

Step 9: Day lease begins. Do walk through with residents. Note deficiencies and write down everything you agree to fix / repair / upgrade on a list that says: “Only these items will be fixed / repaired / upgraded. RESIDENT agrees landlord has not promised, verbally or in writing, to any other repairs, fixes or upgrades that are not listed. Premises are accepted in “as is” condition, unless otherwise noted on this sheet.”

Step 10a: Get money, sign lease. Give resident a run down of rules and procedures for maintenance requests and emergency contact information. Show them where the circuit breaker box is, water shut off, etc. Give each resident a copy of your business card with phone number and email address.

Step 10b: Hand over keys. (this is last for a reason, folks!)

Step 11: Deposit money in your bank.

Step 12: Go enjoy a cold beverage of your choice in celebration. Ah, another turn over complete!

Of course there will be some turnovers that are more complex: eviction, slobs, damages, etc. This is meant as a basic blue print for an otherwise successful tenancy that is coming to a close. Add or subtract steps that you feel make the process smoother. Keep prospering!

The above tips are shared by regular contributors to the popular  Q&A forum. To receive a free sample of Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at,   where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.

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