A landlord is a jack-of-all-trades. He or she needs to be able to deal with tenant management, building maintenance, and emergency repairs of all kinds. In order to be effective a landlord has to be ready for anything. I learned a lot of these tips the hard way and I don’t want anyone else to be left in the lurch, so if you’re embarking on a new venture as a landlord, make sure you’re well stocked in the following items.
This is probably the most important document in the landlord’s toolbox. It’s the instrument by which you’ll decide who you allow into the building, so you want to make sure it covers all your bases. The more of these you can get filled out the better, so make sure you’ve always got a handful ready to go.
A lease is what binds the tenant and landlord in a tenancy relationship (after the tenant has filled out an application). It’s a legal document that highlights all the rights and duties of both parties. Every landlord should have these ready for tenants to sign. Never allow someone to move in without one.
Apartment Fact Sheets
In order to properly communicate with tenants and limit the number of calls and emails you get, give every tenant a fact sheet about the unit and the building when they move in. Include information about the paint colours, appliances, heating and air conditioning, breaker panels, laundry, etc. Keep extras in your car so you’ve always got some handy.
Being able to solve problems and do quick fixes will go a long way in saving you money and keeping your tenants happy. So make sure you’ve got a small toolbox that contains some key items, including a multi-head screwdriver, spackle, sandpaper, utility knife, screws & anchors, adhesive, broom & dustpan, measuring tape and flashlight.
“Notice to Tenants” Forms
As a landlord there will be times when you need to notify tenants of things happening in or around the building. It could be a notice of repair work being done, planned fire drills, or service people who need access to the unit. Make sure you’ve got forms handy so you can quickly fill them in and post them around the building. You can certainly make calls and send emails as well, but a ‘notice to tenants’ should be delivered to each unit and posted in a common area.
You never know when you’ll need to do some touch-ups, so you should always have a can of paint, rollers and brushes, drop cloths and tape on hand. I recommend painting all the rooms of all your rental units the same color when possible and keeping a can in your car.
Appliance and Wood Touch Up Paints
Aside from wall paint, you’ll also want these specialty touch up paints. They can quickly make scuffed or marked up appliances, floors and furniture look much better – with virtually no effort. I highly recommend you keep these in your toolbox at all times.
List of Skilled Trades
Keep a list of trusted trades and maintenance people so that you don’t have to go searching when you need someone. I recommend having a plumber, electrician, locksmith and appliance repair person at the ready. When you have a tenant complaining of issues in their apartment, time is of the essence. You don’t want to waste your time cold calling companies, comparing multiple quotes and checking references.
Appliance manuals can be worth their weight in gold for a landlord. The last thing you want to do is call in a repair person or replace an appliance if there’s actually a quick fix you can do yourself. If you own multiple units is always a good idea to get the same brand and model of each appliance for each unit.
It’s not unheard of for tenants to put padlocks on things and then vacate the unit without removing them. Usually these are things kept outside like grills or even tool sheds. Keep a pair of bolt cutters handy so you can quickly remove any abandoned items.
Always keep an extra set of keys close at hand because you never know when you might need emergency access to a unit. You should also have extras in case your tenant loses theirs. You can charge a fee for lost keys, but it will save you time if you don’t need to go out and get a new one cut.
Contact Info on All Tenants
Always have your tenant’s contact information – including emergency contacts – nearby and current. You never know what might happen, and in an emergency situation you don’t want to have to go looking.
When anyone new moves in don’t just give them a business card, but rather a welcome card that includes your own information and business hours on it. A welcome card will help set a friendly tone and make the tenant feel welcome.
Like a welcome card, a welcome gift goes a long way in setting a positive tone for the landlord tenant relationship. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – a bottle of wine or a small gift card for a home décor store will work nicely. Have a few on hand so you’re ready when a new tenant moves in.
The units you rent need to look good. You should always have some cleaning products on hand in case you need to do any kind of quick clean up – either to the unit itself or any other part of the property.