I’ve made my share of mistakes as a landlord of 20+ years. And I’ve heard others lament their own “dumbass attacks” as well. But that’s often how we learn. The sad thing I often see is people doing the same stupid stuff, again and again, and then complaining about the results they’re getting.
“Insanity is doing the same (dumb) thing over and over, and expecting different results.” Can’t remember who said it, but it’s so true!
Here are some of the biggest mistakes made by landlords:
- Not having a comprehensive lease that covers all the crazy stuff that can happen at the rental. You have to protect yourself, so that you can evict people who mistreat you, their neighbors or the home.
- Not following the lease. Even if you have a good lease, if you let people slide, if you let them violate the terms … then why have a lease? Make sure the rules/boundaries of your lease are clear, and stick to them!
- Being a friend instead of maintaining a respectful business relationship. You have to draw the line between business and friendship. Of course you want to develop trust and a friendly relationship. But if you become emotionally involved, it’s hard to tow the line when things go wrong.
- Being too quick to fill a vacancy. Yes, this business is about earning income. But filling that vacancy with a less-than-qualified tenant will come back to bite you. Save yourself the headache and wait on a good one.
- Letting maintenance issues slide at the rental. I’ve seen this happen way too often. Exteriors fade, become a little run down, interiors as well. How can you attract good tenants when the place is looking tired and neglected? It’s not gonna happen!
- Allowing people to stay too long, not paying. I’ve been guilty of this one, more than I’d like to admit. I’ve gotten better about it over the years. But I know people who have tenants that haven’t paid for 6-8 months. Whaaat? This is an income-producing business … this bullet goes hand in hand with the one on “not following the lease” but deserved a separate mention because it’s so common. Evictions aren’t difficult to file and complete. They’re an unfortunate part of what we do, but sometimes they’re necessary.
The main reason people leave this career is because of tenant management issues. It’s not an easy job. Landlords get burned out and just quit. But if they’d avoid the pitfalls above, maybe they’d find a bit more peace and sanity in their world!