I was a bit concerned that things would be different with the owner not around, but thus far haven’t run into any issues. The things that seem to have made a difference:
- Keeping the property well-maintained: tenants can tell from the condition of the property how much it has been cared for in the past, and this sets the tone for how they should care for it.
- Careful screening: checking references, credit reports, courthouse databases with just as much vigilance as if I lived on the property.
- Being responsive and creating a good relationship with the tenants: all of the tenants know that this is the only duplex that I own, and that I once lived there myself, and that I want to keep the property in good shape to protect my investment as well as improve their experience there. This presents a different impression than the landlord who owns 50 or so properties and they’re just another number. Not that I’m saying all landlords who own 50+ properties are bad, just that it creates a different tone for our relationship.
- Not being overly casual about the details: I have a very professional looking lease and stringent application process. Any changes to our agreement are done in writing. Making sure that all of my legal Ps and Qs are taken care of up front sets a precendence and expectations for how things are going to run.
I’m doubly thankful that things have gone well so far given the fact that both the upstairs and downstairs tenants moved out in the dead of winter this past year. I was able to fill both vacancies quickly; I was concerned about this because fewer people move in winter in places where it gets very cold during the winter months… Interestingly, both my upstairs and downstairs units had been filled with couples (one married, one not), and both ended up moving out because the relationship wasn’t working out. I had thought that couples were a more stable demographic for renting to, but perhaps this isn’t always the case…
- The apartment is officially for rent
- Big changes ahead -- moving from "owner-occupied duplex" to just "duplex"
- How to keep tenants by keeping tenants happy
- My tenants are moving out. Things are about to get interesting again.
- Just signed a new lease this week
- Selecting Tenants and Avoiding Fair Housing Discrimination Complaints