Even though being a landlord in Seattle, Washington is rewarding, it comes with a myriad of responsibilities. For instance, you have to comply with the numerous rules, regulations and city ordinances related to property ownership and landlords-tenants relations. Such include the Seattle DCI, the Seattle’s Housing and Building Maintenance Code (HBMC), and the RRIO (Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance).
Furthermore, it is important to strike a delicate balance between keeping your tenants happy, maintaining the appeal of your property and ensuring the rental income flows profitably without interruptions. Lastly, you have to handle property-advertising, tenant screening, creating and signing lease agreements, as well as managing rent collections and eviction of bad tenants. Bearing all these in mind, how can you ensure you remain a good rental property owner?
6 Tips for Landlords in Seattle:
i. Handle your assets like a business investment
Many owners erroneously treat their rental properties like a pass time hobby as opposed to a business. Consequently, they fail to exert enough effort to see it thrive. Avoid falling into such a snare, and treat your rental property as a business you intend to grow and profit. Such an approach will help you implement systems and structures guaranteed to help your business flourish. For instance, create a reliable system for rent collection, managing repairs or maintenance requests, advertising vacancies and screening tenants.
ii. Have a customized lease
A source of conflict between the tenants and landlords emanate from unclear rules. For this reason, take the time to create a rental agreement that clearly defines your expectations of the tenant in as far as using your property goes.The agreement could address matters like rent, security deposit, maintenance, inspections and pets. The presence of clear-cut rules helps to eliminate unnecessary tenant-landlord frictions.
When customizing the lease, make sure not to include illegal provisions or clauses that contravene with Washington State or Seattle landlord-tenant laws. If you are not sure what to add, it helps to get an attorney who is familiar with the said legislation to review the contract.
iii. Thoroughly screen prospective tenants
As long as you have problematic tenants, you will always have challenges, no matter how hard you try in being a good landlord in Seattle. Therefore, make it a habit of thoroughly screening all your tenants before qualifying them. Only approve those who meet your screening criteria. Always be sure to follow the Fair Housing laws, and consider requesting for previous landlord referrals. Such vigorous screening reduces the chances of experiencing problematic tenants, late rent payments, damaged property or costly tenant evictions.
iv. Make your tenants happy
A proven way of being a great Seattle landlord is to keep your clients happy. Happy renters tend to stay in a house longer than disgruntled ones. Practical ways of doing that include respecting their privacy, treating all tenants with respect, honesty, and fairness, as well as listening to, and promptly attending to their concerns. Some issues, however, might be out of your control. For instance, a resident in the neighboring house, which isn't yours, might be playing loud music at odd hour inconveniencing your tenants. In such a situation, the best you can do is try to mediate between the two neighbors.
v. Get the rent right
An efficient way to succeed in Seattle’s rental market is to charge the right amount of rent. Even though you might wish to charge a higher price, overpricing your assets will cause potential quality tenants to rebuff your properties. Use the prevailing rental market rates in the area to establish your rent prices. Similarly, know what the Seattle laws have to say about the Security deposit, and overdue rent.
Additionally, make it simple for your tenants to pay their rents on time. For instance, you could provide several payment options including electronic rent payments. Lastly, make it clear to the residents what your policy on late rent is. For instance, does it attract any fees, and if so how much is the penalty, and how is it computed. You could also give incentives to tenants who pay their rent on time or in advance.
vi. Hire a Competent Property Manager
Running a successful rental property business in Seattle is quite involved. Many experienced owners prefer to hand over the responsibility to Professional Property Management companies. If you are a landlord in Seattle, instead of struggling to manage your rentals, consider having a professional do it for you. The manager has experience of what it takes to attract desirable tenants, collect rental income on time, maintain the property’s aesthetic pull and even handle tenant evictions.
Furthermore, the manager is conversant with Landlord-Tenant laws. They are, therefore, able to handle different rental issues in a smooth manner devoid of legal suits or costly disagreement. Besides, the manager will make your rental property business professional and appealing to quality tenants.
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