One of the benefits of hiring a professional property manager is the level of experience and expertise that you get when you work with someone who knows the industry. Landlords who choose to manage their own rental properties can put themselves in legal and financial jeopardy if they aren’t careful. Today, we are discussing the most common mistakes we see among Seattle landlords.
Not Understanding Laws
Without even realizing it, you can violate fair housing laws with the language you use to market your property. If you don’t require the same information from all your applicants, you’re also in danger of violating fair housing laws. There are a number of federal, state and local laws you need to understand and comply with when you’re renting your home to tenants. Educate yourself on what’s legally required of you and your tenants so you don’t find yourself in trouble or in court.
Poor Tenant Screening
A good tenant screening process is critical to protecting your property. It will also reduce the likelihood that you’ll have to evict a tenant. Do a thorough check of credit, criminal background and employment. Make sure you talk to previous landlords and get documentation that verifies income. A lot of landlords will collect an application and assume that everything on it is true. It’s important to validate all of the information a potential tenant provides.
If you don’t price your rental property correctly, you’re going to lose money. A lot of landlords make the mistake of pricing their property too high. If you do that, it’s going to sit on the rental market for a lot longer than it should, which will result in longer vacancies and a loss of rental income for you. Remember that the market dictates how much you should charge, not the amount of your mortgage. Find some reliable comparables and get to know the local Seattle market before you attach a price to your property.
Another major mistake landlords make is to avoid the leaky faucet and the chipping paint. You want to get ahead of your maintenance issues to avoid having costlier repairs down the road. If a tenant reports a problem, get someone over to the property to check it out immediately. Take care of anything that needs to be fixed and schedule routine inspections so you know what kind of work is needed at the property.
Buying in Haste
You don’t want to buy an investment property without talking to a property manager. You need to know whether the location will attract a large pool of qualified renters, how much you’ll be able to get in rent every month and whether any major upgrades or repairs need to be made in order to get the house on the market. We have seen landlords buy properties because they thought they were getting a good deal, but then they were unable to rent them out because they didn’t gather as much information as they could from a property manager who knows the market and the things tenants are looking for in a property. Sales agents may be motivated by the sales commission, not your long term success.
We don’t want you to make these mistakes, so if you need any help or you’d like to talk to us about any issues you might be having with your rental property, please contact us at Dave Poletti & Associates.