Managing a rental property is more than a big job. It takes years of experience to learn the ins and outs of being a good landlord. With the rental business in a constant state of flux, even experienced self-managers can make mistakes. As professional property managers in the Portland metro area, we see many struggles that self-managing landlords often face. Here are a few of those common pitfalls, along with tips on how you can avoid them. With this info in hand, you can make the most of self-managing your rental property!
Pricing your rental is one of the most important aspects of attracting and keeping your tenants. This makes a significant impact on how profitable your rental will be. However, the effects of your rental’s price are even more complicated than that. An overpriced rental can take longer to fill, meaning the unit sits vacant and unprofitable for even longer. For example, if you set your monthly rent at $1,500 and it takes an extra month to secure a tenant, you’d ultimately be saving money by pricing it at $1,400 and filling it sooner.
On the other hand, it’s far more common for self-managing landlords to price their rentals too low. While you might have an easier time finding tenants, you’ll also be losing out on potential profits. Given Portland’s legislation around rent raises on top of emergency measures due to COVID-19, it can be challenging to raise the rent after the fact even if you realize you’re charging way below market value.
It’s not just about the monthly rent. Utilities, additional fees, and available amenities are all critical factors when pricing your rental. With so many considerations to keep in mind, it’s no wonder many landlords don’t manage to hit the exact right price point to maximize their profits. Only experience and intensive market research can give you a good idea of how much to charge per month. The most accurate way to determine your rental’s market value is to conduct a property analysis.
Whether you’re managing one rental property or many, staying on top of maintenance can be costly and time-consuming. Some self-managing landlords might even let routine maintenance slide, figuring it can wait until a more convenient time.
This might seem like a reasonable cost and time-saving measure at first. However, you’ll likely regret it in the long run. Often problems that might be discovered or addressed during routine maintenance can get worse the longer you wait. Fixing a small leak can quickly snowball into replacing damaged cabinetry and paying to clear out mold. Or, even worse, if a safety concern injures your tenant, you could be liable for not having repaired it. Catastrophe aside, waiting to take care of maintenance will cause tension with your tenants and may even be the reason they decide to move out. Staying on top of maintenance and repairs is a necessary inconvenience.
No one likes to hunch over a desk filling out forms all day. That’s probably why many landlords struggle to stay on top of their paperwork. Rental properties require a large amount of documentation, and the pandemic has made it even more important to closely keep track of rents, expenses, repairs, and more. If there’s one thing the Landlord Compensation Fund has illustrated, it’s the importance of keeping detailed records even under adverse circumstances. Some landlords have struggled in filling out their applications for pandemic-related financial aid, as the process requires submitting detailed records from a year when many landlords have faced unprecedented challenges.
Of course, the most complicated part of being a landlord is by far the tenants. Tenants are your source of income and the lifeblood of your business. But as in any circumstances where you have to deal with people, they can also lead to problems. Knowing the best way to interact with your tenants (and being aware of any legal pitfalls you could fall into) is vital for any landlord, no matter how experienced.
Part of this depends on the kind of landlord you want to be. Do you see yourself in regular contact with your tenants, keeping them up to date on any maintenance or improvements to the property, and maintaining a close, cordial relationship? Or would you rather set up an online payment portal and leave your tenants to their own devices whenever possible? Either method of property management can work well in different circumstances; it all depends on how hands-on you want to be.
Self-Managing a Rental is a Big Job
No matter how hard you try to do everything right, the fact is that all self-managing landlords will make mistakes throughout their careers. The key isn’t to avoid making any errors (although, of course, we all try to anyway). Being a successful landlord means learning from those mistakes and constantly innovating to stay on top of the changing needs of your business.
However, sometimes the challenges of self-managing a rental property can seem to outweigh the benefits. Being a landlord can be extremely rewarding, but at the end of the day, it’s still a job–and a tough one, at that. But it doesn’t have to involve slogging through hours of stressful and challenging work just to keep your rental property functioning. Many landlords who are tired of dealing with the hassle have found even more success partnering with a property manager.
Choose a Professional Partner
At Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew, we make sure that property management’s everyday struggles and irritations are far from our clients’ minds. We can handle all the details so that you never need to worry about writing marketing copy or researching average rental rates in today’s ever-changing market. We also keep extensive paperwork that you can access whenever you need it and handle all interactions with tenants on your behalf. Of course, if you’re a hands-on landlord and don’t want to give up the best parts of the job, we welcome clients who still want to keep a hand in their business by connecting with tenants or taking care of repairs within our guaranteed 48-hour timeline.
What matters to us is helping our clients enjoy the best parts of owning rental property while leaving the worst of the challenges behind. Does this sound good to you? We’d love to tell you more! Chat with us today at (503) 515-3170, or fill out the contact form on our website to get started!