Are Any of You Landlords?

Updated on January 14, 2012
X.O. asks from Naperville, IL
18 answers

My husband would like to buy an investment property in Plainfield and would like for me to handle the management of it. It would be the first step on what he hopes to be the start of a side biz.

I have very limited experience with renting--I only did it during college & the first year of our marriage, and didn't have any issues that needed my landlord's attention, so I don't really know what to expect from a landlord perspective.

Any advice you have to offer us as we (possibly) embark on this endeavor?

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answers from Detroit on

I've been a silent landlord for 3 years arrangement is with a property management firm and it's exactly what Jim at Home Dad is suggesting you's well worth it and I haven't had any problems with this arrangement. I would not be a landlord without this arrangement!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Atlanta on

My husband and I have owned over 100 units of property over the last 20 years. Right now has been the hardest time ever to keep our properties rented and in repair. I hate to be a stick in the mud...but even with the property glut on the market and the low prices, rentals are not doing very well right now. Even the experienced investors are having difficulty. People will always need a place to live but with our economic climate right now, families are doubling up. I have a immediate family of four but my niece and grandniece have moved in with us. Responsible people are thinking through their decisions and taking time to make sure they are able to take care of a home. The irresponsible people are still irresponsible and don't take care of their homes and you end up with the bill.

If your husband is bent on buying this property make sure he pays cash and you don't incur a payment. Taxes and repairs (and unpaid utility bills in some states) add up and can jeopardize everything else you have. As much as you try to keep them separate it is almost impossible.

I'm not trying to scare you at all but investing in real property is not a simple to a CPA and other investor in your area. "A wise man seeks wise counsel.

God bless,
M. :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I am not now but I have been in the past.
Depends on a lot.
Area of the property, condition, finding good tenants, etc.
My advice--don't buy a property if you need a loan on it and expect to use the rent to cover all or a portion of the payments.
Overall, my years as a landlord were not as profitable as they were in my head when I "figured it out"! LOL
And I wasn't making payments on the property!
So......far too many aspects that YOU need to apply to your own situation.
Personally, I'm not interested in doing it again anytime soon.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

My dad has been a landlord for many years. He has several properties, so he is constantly dealing with people moving out, stuff being left behind, minor repairs, major repairs, late payments, evictions, etc. You name it, it's happened to him. Some things that have helped him out:

*Have a lawyer help you create a lease agreement or look over any standard leasing agreements you decide to use. You want to make sure that any weird state or local requirements are met.

*Also include something in the lease that if property is left after moving out, the deposit is forfeited. You wouldn't believe how much time it takes my parents to clean out some of the junk left behind.

*Make sure that you carry rental property/liability insurance. If you don't want to insure the home, at least get the liability portion.

*Make sure your tenants carry renters insurance, with liability, and have you and your husband listed as additional insureds or certificate holders (don't know how it's worded in your state) on the policy to make sure they keep coverage in force.

*Take pictures of the property before the tenants move in and try to do an initial walk through with them to document damages. When they move out, try to do the walk through with them. If damages are found, take pictures and handle getting payment immediately if it is more than their deposit.

*If you or your husband aren't handy, try to have a general handyman scoped out ahead of time that you can call on when needed, as invariably something will go wrong.

*It is worth it to run a simple check on possible tenants. This could save you a ton of headaches!

I wish you the best of luck and hope that you are blessed with great tenants. My parents have been lucky and gotten some great people that have left the homes better than when they moved in, but those people are rare. Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Well, this probably is not what your husband wants, but is there any way he would want to look into a property management company? Basically they do all the background checks of potential renters and do any maintenance and repairs. You still have to pay for the repairs and they consult with you first but they will actually do them for you. They just charge a percentage of the rental income, which I know cuts into your profit but man oh man does it save you a lot of headache! I have a couple of friends who do this and they love doing it this way!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Our county offers a course for landlords to teach them the laws that govern rentals. The class also includes how to screen and how to evict tenants. I highly recommend that you get this sort of professional training. I think the community college also has such a class.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Get a very detailed rental contract drawn up. Include a clause for breaking the contract - have them pay an extra month (or two) plus the advertising fees, if they break their lease.

If you're not a handy person, and have no intention of learning how to fix household things, find a reasonably priced handyperson...but before you call on the person, go check out the issue first.

Address a tenant's expectations early on in the rental relationship. We had renters who once wanted us to upgrade our place to meet their wants - unreasonable! We did not rent the place to then upgrade the kitchen and renovate the bathroom. You get the picture.

Some tenants are high maintenance and some are low - be prepared for the highs and lows, but it's been a learning "adventure" for my husband and I. Good luck with yours!

PS- it's not all "someone else paying down your mortgage" - it takes a fair amount of work to interview the people, sign the leases and do the minor repairs/painting between tenants.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

We were in the past. If you have a realtor who is a friend ask him about property management. Our realtor did it as a side business. He charged one months rent for a years worth of management. He did the background checks, collected the rent and handled everything related to renting. This may be a route to go until you get the hang of it. Good Luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

My dad is a land lord for 3 condo/apartments which are part of a huge condo/apartment complex (total of 15 buildings with 4-5 condos in each building). Being part of a complex is nice because as a whole all the owners get together and approve which company(s) to do the outside maintenance (mowing the lawn, snow removal) which everyone who owns has to chip in or pay "fees". All indoor care of the condos are the owners responsiblity. So the water heater breaks my dad has to take care of it or call someone to do so.

He also rents out a house. He has in the contract that they are resonsible for snow removal, they can paint the walls if they so want, but all other repairs must go through my dad.

It is great income BUT can be a lot of work the more places you have to manage. IT also depends on what you decide on in the contract. Look up what the laws/rules are for our area because that will also dictate on what you MUST do and provide.

My dad is a great landlord, he repsonds with in the hour of a call reporting something, and usually within the day it is repaired unless he finds that something will take longer to repair. He has had his fair share of great renters and bad renters (had to take them to court, get them evicted for not paying rent, and property damage). My dad is a people person, can handle working with that occassional hard to deal with person, hard worker and I help out too. It is nice extra income/investment but at times it will not be easy.

Things you will do:
-Write up contract (pets/no pets, repairs, payment and so on) best to have a lawyer apart of this so it will hold up in court if need be
-Do background check
-Collect payment (if done in person also a good time to check to see if they are obeying the contract)
-Do repairs, maintenance or make arrangements for someone to do them
-If taking care of the outside maintenance; mowing lawn, weeding, snow removal)
-Deal with unhappy renters
-Turn around repair, cleaning, maintenance (when one renter leaves and getting ready for the new renter or to show the place)
-If it is a bad rent might have to take them to court

Some time it will go smoothly and sometimes it will not. If you/hubby can handle changes well, let things roll off your back, on top of replying to people and getting things done this could be a good endeavor for you two... on the other hand you/hubby do not want to deal with other people's issues, the upkeep of another property/house, do not like or can not handle dealing with diffcult people this might not be an endeavor you want to get into.

LASTLY always be prepared to cover the rent/morgage if the place sits empty for awhile. My dad has no morgage left on any of the condos BUT the repair on it when someone destroys a place is costly. For my dad he is really handy, do-it-yourself kind of guy so he will put in new sinks, bathtubs, flooring by himself... I do all the painting & trim work in the places. We are handy that way but if we had to job it out it would cost triple what he spends on just the material.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We have a property manager handle our property.
He's a relator and he writes ironclad rental agreements.
He's local to where it is and we're no longer in the area plus he's a family friend and we trust him.
I don't think I'd ever want to be the landlord that people call when ever the toilet backs up or the fridge breaks down.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

We were landlords for 3 years and I would never do it again. But some people like it. My FIL has been a landlord forever and makes a good extra income off his rental properties. My husband said he spent many if not most weekends of his childhood going around helping his dad fix things in the rental properties. That was one part of it we HATED. We feel like we can barely keep on top of our own problems much less anybody elses! We did luckily have the best tenants ever and even so there were times when they drove me nuts. I hear from my FIL and from friends these terrible stories bc they have horrible tenant after horrible tenant. Be advised to really check references on people. Be ready to deal with people who won't pay their rent month after month always with sad sob stories about what went wrong. Be ready to spend your weekends putting in new faucets or trying to get someone an affordable fridge bc it broke!!! I don't mean to sound all doom doom doom, but that is my perspective!

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answers from McAllen on

I haven't read the other post, I hope I'm not repeating.
My father in law owns some apartments that he rents, he bought an appliance warranty for them and goes halfsies with tenants for a/c maintenance like $60 once a year (stated in the contract), and he doesn't have to worry about appliances, he is kind of a handy man, so he does the rest himself.
Tenants are responsible for keeping the front and backyard if applicable, like watering and mowing.
If its appartments, get an appliance warranty and find yourself a reliable handyman, do background and credit checks, and have good advice drafting up a contract.
Also, make sure that you have enough income to cover your payments on the property. You never know, things may happen and you may not be able to collect on time, so make sure to have a back up, just in case.
The best of luck in your new business.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would say that it depended on the property. As land owner you would be responsible for all repairs. In a timely manor. Even if the house just had major repairs if something else goes wrong you would still have to do the new repair right away too.

My friend that died a couple of years ago moved into a rental home and the sink was cracked. It would not hold water for her to do dishes in it. It kept flooding underneath. She told the manager about it and told him she had figured it out due to the flood of water in her kitchen floor one day. He came back and told her it was her fault for flooding the cabinets and he was charging her. She had done nothing wrong. She had figured out a major issue that could have went on for years and rotting out her sub-floor, the downstairs ceiling joists, etc...she had in fact saved him a lot of money.

He finally took out her kitchen sink and told her his wife was buying a new sink and her old one would fit the hole perfectly. Six months later she still didn't have a kitchen sink. She passed away before she ever got one. This guy owns about half the rentals in my town, he owns several blocks of houses and several apartment complex's. He is known in town as the local slum lord.

If you have quality housing for rent and take good care of it you will get quality people renting from you that will stay and take good care of your property.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Well we are not landlords of our rental, but know people who are to their property. There has to be some website on lots of ins and outs of this kind of thing for you to research and many different types of lease options. The lease is huge as you want to make sure your responsible for some things and that what the tenant is responsible for that you should not be. We have a prop magt. and it is so nice. But little things I can think about for you is that our company prefers we do not provide appliances only because if they break, that surly makes you be the one to fix stuff. Floods especially. So we encourage they bring in their own or they rent it. Make sure your home owners ins is up to par for rental dewling on the property to cover any thing that may have damage on the outside. Think about inspections while they are living there and make sure in your lease that you have the right to do drive by or inspections on the property every 6-8 months unless the tenant has been there a long time and you have gotten a good reputation on that. Sometimes tenants won't like you to do an inspection, but you never know how people live these days and you always give a 24 hour notice. I would have in that lease a late fee and clause on when it will be sent to the courts if pymt is not due by a certain date in the can get kinda ugly so you really need to sit down and figure out your " Lease " on these issues. It is a hard job when looking for someone to get in there and when dealing with someone as they move out or when they don't pay that is why we really like the magt. company. They will call you for every little thing to come fix hopefully you have a phone number that is not your home that they can call and hopefully you have a set of sub contractors that will help you fix stuff on your behalf. It will be great write offs. Credit checks and all that seem easy, they pay for it in the application fee. IDK what else. Hope it all helps.

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answers from Cumberland on

Try to rent to someone (I know you can't discriminate) in the military-they can fix anything- they pay on time-and they have remarkable respect for your property. Screen everyone carefully-learn the laws in your area-read and prepare the lease carefully and make sure both sides understand it. Get a network of tradesmen together that you would trust with your children-yes, that much. Make sure your tenant knows where everything is and how it works. For instance, it is beneficial to know how to turn off a toilet so it doesn't overflow, or how to turn off the main water in case the toilet knob comes off in your hand! Teach them to call you first-no matter what. I had a tenant that waited months to call me after a stain started appearing in the dining room ceiling...there were bees up there-don't ask! If you buy a house with a sum pump -get an alarm put on it-and a battery back-up. Storing your finest possessions in the room with the hot water heater-also not a good idea; also encourage your renter to get "renters insurance" -cannot stress this enough. My sister rented to a guy once that lost his job, went into a "bathrobe depression" and trashed her condo. On the whole, it really is a great way to make money-don't be deterred by these stories-Good luck!

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answers from Denver on

Once, and NEVER again. We used a rental agency (my husband was a pilot and I was pregnant) and the agency didn't even follow the contract. The last renters were there for 6 weeks, only paid 1 months rent, and destroyed the place. It was $3000+ to get the place fixed up and many hours of labor. We couldn't even collect the damage deposit from the rental agency!!!! Yes, the market is good to buy rental properties and rentals can be a good investment, but there are many headaches to go along with it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My advice would be to explore every aspect of being a landlord. Most city governments are pro-tenant. Does your city require licensing for the landlords? Are you renting to market rate, or subsidized tenants. Explore the pros and cons. We use metropolitan tenant services to screen & run our credit and background checks. PHYSICALLY TAKE PAPERWORK OF SOME SORT TO THE PERSONS CURRENT ADDRESS. This will give you insight as to how they live &what you may be getting into. Ask questions, (neighbors are usually very willing to let you know if they have undesirable guests continuously, loud parties, etc...) current landlord may not give you the whole truth because they want to be rid of tenant. SPEAK WITH PRIOR LANDLORD IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. There is not as such thing as fullproof screening, but this may help limit pitfalls.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

I have been a landlord in the sense that we have had tenants rent our basement out in two homes that we've lived in. Make sure you have a written/typed out rental application that asks for name, Social Sec # (so you can do background or credit check if needed); keep in mind, this will cost you but well worth it. Also, employers over the last five years (or longer if you want), salary they made and phone numbers so you can call and verify that information, bank or credit union information-again so you can verify they have an account etc. Give anyone/everyone a rental application if they ask for one (this shows you are non-discriminatory) but YOU can decided who you will rent to given the information and verification of this application. When you decide who to rent to, give them a Rental Agreement-this should mention deposits, what is expected (i.e. no smoking, no pets, no others on the property or you need if a relative is coming to visit for a few days BUT no one else living in the property-you need to set the occupancy amount-like no more than 5 people for a 3 bedroom house etc). You need to mention notice time that will need to be given if they move out and whether or not utlities are included or separate of the monthly rental amount. I would definitely secure first and last month's rent upfront. Also, you need to have a date-usually by the 5th of every month-when rent is due. If it goes past this date, you have the right to charge late fees such as a dollar a day more until rent is paid and eviction after 2 weeks. Look at your particular state's tenant/landlord rights before you draft this and make it into effect. If you get the right person, it can be a joyous experience. It usually makes it easier if you are in close proximity to the property itself. Remember, you will need to claim this income on your taxes. I wish you all the best in this endeavour.

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