Becoming a Landlord

So You Want To Be a Landlord

If you decide to become a landlord you will be venturing into a profession that can be very lucrative if you are diligent and use good sense. Make one lazy mistake, like not thoroughly checking out a prospective tenant because they drove a Mercedes, and you could lose tens of thousands of dollars.


Like most professions there is a lot to learn and if you don’t have the time or temperament there are professional companies that can do it for you.Let’s look at some of the basic. When I ran a property management company I told all new hires that they had to watch the movie “Pacific Heights” staring Michael Keaton…not a bad idea for you too.


    1. Get to know all local laws regarding Tenant and Landlord rights.


    1. Purchase or have professionally prepared a detailed rental/lease agreement that is extensive in what it covers.  A single page home made lease is almost worthless.


    1. Screen prospective tenants carefully and thoroughly.  This means running a credit report and background checks that cover Unlawful Detainers and Judgments.  Doing a thorough job of screening will stop a large majority of problems.  Ask for several references and take the time to contact each one.  The second to last landlord is your best reference, as a rule.  Ask for 2 forms of ID with at least 1 being a photo ID.  You would be well advised, again, to fully familiarize yourself with local and state/federal laws regarding screening and rejection of a prospective tenant.


    1. Document property condition before tenant moves in and do the same when they move out this will clarify any damage that it not normal wear and tear.


    1. If you are going to be an absente landlord you may be well advised to use a Property Management Company for periodic inspections and for making or arranging for needed repairs.


  1. Consult an attorney. They will be invaluable in many aspects.  There are many attorneys that specialize in Real Estate and Landlord Tenants Law.  Most can also be of assistance if the worst should happen and you have to take legal action.  There are also companies that specialize in landlord tenant disputes for evictions and other legal actions.

Learn all you can about property management. The Landlord’s Legal Guide is a very useful book.  Pick up a copy and use it…it will become your guide.

Sally Scheidemantle
Real Estate Broker


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