Landlords aren’t immune to life’s challenges! A life event can require you to operate your rental business from out of town, or even out of state. And that may bring some challenges in the way you manage your rental property.
It may no longer, for instance, be easy to collect rent or respond to maintenance issues. But does this mean that being a long-distance landlord can’t work? Not at all! You will however need to make certain changes to your operations for everything to work smoothly.
In this blog, we’ll walk you through 7 tips to help you be successful as a long-distance landlord.
1. Have a Thorough Tenant Screening Process
It’s the goal of every landlord to rent to reliable and trustworthy tenants. That is, those that abide by all terms of the lease agreement, including paying rent on time and caring for their rented premises.
And this is especially crucial when you are a long-distance landlord. Because, unlike before, you can no longer inspect your property as often as you’d like. Months could pass before accessing your rental property.
When choosing a tenant, you’ll want to be extremely cautious. Your ultimate goal would be to find a tenant with the following traits:
- Good credit rating
- Zero histories on eviction
- Good income level
- Great rental background
- Stable employment history
- Zero relevant criminal history
Go a step further and verify all the information the tenant provides. For instance, when it comes to screening a tenant based on their rental background, make sure to call prior landlords to inquire about what the tenant was like in their previous rental.
2. Improve Your Communication Strategy
Communication is the foundation of any great professional relationship. And needless to say, it’s paramount when you are a long-distance landlord. The following are some tips to help you enhance your communication strategy:
- Keep your promises – No one likes missed appointments and late calls. If you made a promise to fix something, for instance, make sure to follow through on it. And if you can’t for whatever reason, make sure to be honest, and reschedule the repair while respecting the tenant’s time.
- Respect their privacy – Don’t just show up unannounced. Your Washington tenants have a right to privacy. Washington state law requires that landlords offer their tenants “reasonable notice” before entering. A 24 hours notice should suffice.
- Quickly respond to maintenance requests – State law gives landlords 10 days to make repairs after being notified of the issue. If you don’t, your tenant may have several legal options to pursue including repairing the issue themselves and then deducting the costs from future rent payments.
By improving your communication strategy you can protect your landlord-tenant relationship and feel confident that your tenants and property are well-cared for.
3. Try Your Best to Visit Your Property at Least Once a Year
Normally, landlords should be able to conduct four types of rental inspections in a lease term. That is, when tenants first move in, between changing seasons, while driving by the property, and when moving out. However, that may not be possible when you’re a long-term landlord. Try your best to inspect your property at least once a year.
Note that traveling costs can be tax-deductible. You may even be able to deduct costs such as hotel stays, plane tickets, and meals. Be sure to stay up-to-date on property and tax laws before making write-offs.
4. Stay Connected with the Local Community
Even though you may no longer live or work directly in the community, it’s still important to stay connected to the area. As a savvy landlord, you’ll want to stay in the loop regarding the goings-on with the local business environment and government policy.
This is because the rental market doesn’t exist in isolation. So many factors play a crucial part in influencing your rental business. For example, the local economy could change and that would impact desirable rental rates. Consequently, depending on the impact, you’d need to raise or lower your rates to stay competitive.
Also, there could be changes in the local landlord-tenant laws. And without being in sync with the local community, you may find yourself in potential legal trouble.
5. Set Up a Digital Rent Payment System for Tenants
Requiring your tenants to pay rent online can help minimize missed or late rent payments. And this is even more important if you’re a long-distance landlord. Several apps can help you set up an online payment system within no time. Some top options include:
- Rentec Direct
- Zillow Rental Manager
6. Connect with Local Resources
You want to have connections to people on the ground. For instance, when a tenant requests a repair, all you’ll have to do is turn the job over to a trusted handyman you know in the area.
Of course, only work with vendors and contractors that have years of experience under their belt. Also, insist on working with those that are bonded, licensed, and insured for peace of mind.
7. Hire an Experienced Property Management Company
As a long-distance landlord, you can gain a lot of peace of mind by hiring a property management company. Preferably, go with one that offers a comprehensive suite of property management services. This way, you’ll be able to ensure that they will handle every aspect of managing your Washington property.
The following are some of the services you could expect from a good property management company:
- Marketing your rental property
- Screening prospective tenants
- Collecting rent and doing any necessary follow-ups
- Managing tenant complaints and requests
- Carrying out routine inspections
- Providing regular financial reports on the performance of your rental property
Managing your rental property while out of town is completely doable. But, it’s not without its challenges.
If you would like help managing your rentals call the experts at T-Square Properties. We’re a professional property management company that has been proudly serving King and Snohomish Counties for years. Get in touch with us to learn more!