When I talk to people about investing in rental properties, whether it’s single or multi-family homes, one of the questions I get asked most often is, “What about all those calls you get at 3 a.m.?”
Okay, here are the facts . . .
When you manage your own properties, you must be available to your tenants. But if you do a good job of rehabbing the property before putting a tenant in it, you shouldn’t have many repair issues to contend with. And repair issues are the main reason your tenant will be calling you.
In the case of multi-family rentals, there will be occasions where the tenants within the building are having problems getting along, i.e. one of them is playing the stereo too loud, or engaging in arguments with their significant other, etc. and you will get complaints from other tenants in the rental. So you’ll need to do an intervention in that case. What I usually do is call “the perpetrator” and remind them their lease states they’ve agreed to “keep TV, music and other noise low so neighbors aren’t bothered.” One warning is all they get. If they violate that provision again, I will file eviction. It’s important that your tenants respect each other’s rights to live peacefully. I require music, noise from parties, etc. to be quiet after 10 p.m. on week nights and after midnight on the weekends.
My cell phone is the iron-clad umbilical cord that connects me to my tenants, and it has to be that way. As a landlord, you have to be okay with that. If you’re not, then you may consider having someone else manage your properties for you. When you start investing in rentals you’ll probably have just one property. No big deal as far as phone calls from tenants. As you grow, the number of calls will grow too. See what your tolerance level is and go with the flow.
If you decide to go with a management company, you’ll be giving up 10-12% of your rental income. I charge 12% but the people I manage for are grateful and totally happy to pay that 12% for the convenience. They trust me implicitly and know they don’t have to give a first thought to their rental properties. I pay the bills, keep the accounting straight, take care of move-ins and move-outs, and deal with all tenant issues.
I currently own and operate 27 units, and over the past 15 years, I can count the post-midnight tenant calls on one hand . . . not a big deal. And if you get into this business and find you don’t have the personality to be a landlord or you just don’t enjoy the work, you can always hire it out to someone like me . . .