There are many reasons why someone might end up becoming a remote landlord. For example, maybe you relocated for work and decided to rent your old home instead of selling it? Perhaps you found a rental property deal in another state that was just too good to pass up? Or, you could be a retiree who’s living it up in a sunnier locale but still needs some extra money coming in every month. No matter the reason, technology makes it easier than ever for a landlord to purchase and manage their rental property remotely. However, the challenges of running a rental home from a distance are real. That’s why remote landlords need to focus on the basics of good property management to find success.
1: Rent to Trustworthy People
Of course, every landlord wants trustworthy tenants. However, remote landlords have much less room for error in this area than other investment owners. Remote landlords can’t do a quick drive-by to check on their rental while out running errands. In fact, weeks and months could pass between visits. Without good tenants in place, that leaves a lot of room for things to go wrong. When filling vacancies, make sure your screening practices are in tip-top shape. That means conducting proper credit and background checks, along with obtaining a thorough rental history. While this enhanced screening may be more expensive and time-consuming, you’ll sleep better at night knowing you have a great tenant in your home.
2: Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Once you’ve found an all-star tenant, remote landlords need to establish clear and consistent communication. Because you won’t be on-site very often, you need your tenants to be your trusted eyes and ears on the ground. Whether it’s a water leak, missing shingles, or something worse, it’s in your best interest to learn about these issues as soon as possible so you can take corrective action. By contrast, if you sit back and collect rent checks, you could be in for a nasty surprise when you do decide to visit your property.
Make sure your tenant has up-to-date contact info, including your phone number. Then encourage your tenants to contact you as soon as there’s a problem. You might also consider calling your tenants once a month to check-in. This call is your opportunity to inquire about the health of your rental and the well-being of your tenants. It’s a fine line here between being attentive and encouraging and being nosy, so tread carefully. Otherwise, your tenant might shut down completely.
3. Visit Your Property at Least Once Per Year
Under United States tax law, visits to your out-of-state rental properties may be fully tax-deductible. That means you can subtract the cost of plane tickets, mileage, hotel stays, and meals from the profits you earn from owning a rental property. Remote landlords should use these tax benefits to their advantage by visiting their properties at least once per year. You can use these visits to ensure your property is in good shape and your tenants are satisfied with their rental experience. If you’re not making semi-regular trips for in-person visits, you’ll have to take your tenant’s word as to your home’s condition. With an investment this valuable, that just not a risk you should take.
4. Pay Attention to the Competition
When you don’t live in a particular area, it’s easy to become disconnected from what’s happening there. But as a remote landlord, you need to stay plugged-in with the community you rent to. Government policy, the business environment, and demographic changes all influence the rental market. In response, neighborhoods improve or decline, and rental rates fluctuate. Without understanding what’s happening on the ground, your rental could suddenly be out-of-step with the competition. You might be charging less than your competition and causing your rental to underperform. Or, worse, you might be charging too much, which will make it harder to keep your rental occupied. As a remote landlord, it’s critical to consume local news and monitor the rental market. That way, you can make smart adjustments when the time is right.
5. Connect with Local Resources
It’s also crucial that remote landlords develop a suite of local resources they can quickly access when needed. When the inevitable repair requests pop up, it’s easy for local landlords to handle the issue themselves or turn the job over to someone they trust. Landlords who live out of state, on the other hand, can’t simply swing by to fix a leaky faucet or clogged garbage disposal. If they don’t have local solutions in place, remote landlords may be forced to consult the local yellow pages to find someone who can help. That’s a recipe for unsatisfied tenants and stressed-out owners.
By contrast, remote landlords who’ve done their research to identify the best local repair and maintenance services will always know who to call for help. Additionally, remote landlords may need to connect with legal professionals familiar with local rental law to draw up leases and other legal documents.
Local Property Managers Can Help Remote Landlords Succeed
Of course, the best option for remote landlords may be to hire a local property manager. Great management companies can handle the day-to-day tasks that come with being a landlord, so out-of-state owners don’t have to. These tasks include marketing the property, conducting tenant screenings, preparing lease documents, and collecting rent. Property managers also provide a point-of-contact for tenants when they have problems or need something fixed. These professionals typically have a network of vendors they work with to handle maintenance and repairs. Perhaps most importantly, local property managers also serve as the owner’s eyes and ears when they’re out of state. Great property managers conduct thorough inspections before placing new tenants and schedule annual walk-throughs to ensure the property stays in great shape.
If you’re a remote landlord who owns a rental in Portland or the surrounding metro area, Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew can be your local property management partner. Our clients will testify that we work hard to meet their needs and keep their property performing to its fullest. Contact Darla today at (503) 515-3170 or fill out the contact page on our website if you’d like to learn more. Being a remote landlord is challenging, but it will be a whole lot easier with the right partner at your side.