As the world bids goodbye to 2020 and welcomes in 2021, we naturally look ahead to all the possibilities the new year holds. Many people use this turn of the calendar to create resolutions, which help them define the improvements they hope to make in their personal and professional lives. DIY investment property owners can use the clean slate of a new year to make their own resolutions. Whether it’s to refine your processes, boost profitability, or create added peace-of-mind, looking for improvement areas is always a valuable undertaking. With that in mind, we’re offering a few resolution suggestions for all the DIY property managers out there.
Update Your Lease Documents
If you’ve been paying attention to the Oregon rental market over the last year or so, you’ve seen several BIG changes come through. That includes:
- Statewide Rent Control.
- A Statewide Eviction Moratorium.
- Screening Criteria Changes in Portland.
- Security Deposit Handling Changes.
- A Ban on Rent Increases for Section 8 Tenants.
- New Relocation Assistance Requirements.
Each of these major adjustments to the landlord-tenant relationship must be reflected in your lease documents. If your documents are out-of-date, you could leave yourself open to big legal problems and significant financial penalties down the road. That’s why 2021 is a great time to have an experienced real estate attorney review and update your rental documents. If you own a multi-family property, you should also use this opportunity to review and tweak your community standards guidelines. Remember, these documents exist to create a shared understanding of the agreement you and your tenant will sign. However, you cannot enforce your lease if it does not follow current law.
Review Your Insurance Coverage
In fall 2020, wildfires endangered homes in the close-in Portland suburbs for the first time in memory. As a result, many affected homeowners learned for the first time that their homeowner’s policies weren’t adequate to cover their losses. As you move into the New Year, take some time to review your coverage carefully. A good insurance broker can advise you on your risk and make coverage recommendations that will fully protect you in the event of a disaster.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a disaster for rental owners to experience a loss. Sometimes all it takes is bad luck. That’s why DIY rental owners should also carefully consider buying a landlord insurance policy. This coverage protects investment owners from losses a homeowner’s policy won’t cover. That includes things like premises liability, loss of income, or vandalism or malicious mischief. Knowing you have the right level of protection in place will help every investment owner sleep better at night.
Improve Your Record Keeping
Owning a rental property generates a lot of paperwork. Between lease documents, monthly rent payments, repair invoices, and more keeping up with it all can become a full-time job. When you’re a DIY property manager, it’s critical to maintain a robust organization system to track property records. That includes tax documentation, property records like mortgage payments and maintenance activity, and all tenant documentation. Owners must organize these records so that you can quickly gain access to the information you need. In the event of a tax audit or tenant dispute, maintaining accurate records and documentation will be your savior.
Create a Quarterly Maintenance Schedule
As an investment owner, property is your most important asset. That’s why you need to keep your home in tip-top condition so that it continues to perform at its peak. Rental units take a beating. If you allow your property to deteriorate with time and heavy use, its value will inevitably fall. That means you won’t be able to charge the full market rate for rent, and you’ll attract less desirable tenants. Once that process sets in, it becomes extremely expensive to escape.
To prevent this downward spiral, successful property managers create maintenance schedules designed to avoid big problems before they happen. One way to build this schedule is by the season. For example, during the fall, you can check your home’s windows and doors to ensure the seals are intact and schedule maintenance on the heating system. You can repair any winter damage during the spring and prepare your property for the hotter summer months. By establishing a predicable maintenance rhythm, you’ll ensure every part of your property is kept in good operating condition.
Conduct a Rent Audit
Rent is your primary income source as an investment owner. However, you might be surprised to learn how many DIY managers fail to keep pace with the rental market. It’s crucial to conduct regular audits of your local rental market to ensure your property is up to par. Through these audits, you might learn that you’re charging way too little for your property. Or that other nearby rentals are charging less, which could make your property sit vacant for longer than it needs to. Either way, you need to understand what’s happening in the local rental market and specifically in your neighborhood.
Start by reviewing rental listings on sites like Craigslist or Trulia. Then compare features like square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and amenities like in-unit washers and dryers or air-conditioning. Once you’ve found comparable units, compare those rental rates with your own. You’ll now have a better idea of where the unit sits compared to the competition.
Consider Partnering with Professionals
Another smart resolution for DIY property managers in 2021 is to partner with professionals. You could make all the above resolutions and work your tail off to implement them. Or, you could hire a company like Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew and take care of all your resolutions in one simple step! Our experienced team will handle your lease documents, maintenance schedule, record keeping, and rental audits as part of our regular services. We can also recommend industry experts who can help you obtain the right insurance coverage and legal protection. To learn more, you can contact Darla directly at (503) 515-3170 or fill out the contact form on our website. If you’re looking to have a more successful year in 2021, partnering with us will be one of the best resolutions you could ever make.