The Art of Being a Landlord (yep, it's an art!)

There's a lot more to being a landlord than buying the property and handing it over to a property manager to look after it. If you're going to be serious about investing in rental property, there are some things you really should know.

For a start, you have to find a manager who does all that they say they will. More on that elsewhere...

Long gone are the days when a landlord can really get away with refusing to do anything to a property, and charging a lot of money for it. The trouble with this approach is that it will actually lose you money. Eventually something big will break and cost you a heap (see my article about how much of your rental income should be kept aside to cover repairs and maintenance). And landlords who have no respect for their property or their tenants often find that they get even less respect for their property in return. This loses them even more money.

Don't become the evil landlord, like this medieval guy!

And, while this should be really obvious to some, there is a fine balance between being a landlord who makes sure that the property is in good condition (through regular property inspections carried out by your property manager), carrying out all repairs yourself (which is fine, within the bounds of your local building and safety regulations), and being a landlord who rocks up on the doorstep at all hours, with no notice, to check that your tenants aren't having a few guests over for dinner.

I've seen it happen... Please don't be one of those landlords!

There are regulations covering a lot of this, and, for Australia, they can be found here. This is a tenants site, but it's essential reading for landlords. (If anyone can point me to lists of regulations for other countries, I would be very grateful. I am trying to make this a resource for everyone!).

Okay, that's the doom and gloom over!

Of course, there is plenty that you, being a landlord, can do to keep your tenants happy, keep them for a long time, and keep your property in good shape. By keeping the property in good shape, I mean encouraging your tenants to respect your property as much as you do. It's not going to take very much effort on your part, when you compare the returns.

One of the best tips for being a landlord I ever received was from a seasoned Australian investor, very well known in the industry. He said that the best way to get the rent paid on time, every time, was to offer a bribe. If the rent was paid on time every week/fortnight/month (whatever the tenancy agreement stipulates) for three months, the tenants got two movie vouchers for the local cinema.

I think the same applies to a good inspection. If the inspection is exemplary and there are no underlying (irremovable) smells of animals in the house, another movie ticket (or similar bribe) is in order. Maybe a $20 shopping voucher for a major chain or group of stores?

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