Being a landlord can be stressful and challenging and today’s conditions present an entirely new set of challenges. With so many people struggling with unemployment, the rental market is very different than it used to be just months ago, and nobody is sure exactly of what lies ahead.
Here are four tips to keep in mind that will help improve and ease the processes of being a landlord.
1. Repair and Maintain Your Apartment
Renting out an old-looking apartment is a much harder proposition than renting out a unit that looks like it has been updated recently. When you’re conducting a showing, you need the apartment to look its best, and this requires making actual repairs and updates that materially improve the unit’s condition.
You need to ensure the basics are handled, such as having a working carbon monoxide and smoke detector. This is a basic standard precaution, and a legal obligation landlords must fulfill.
If you want to increase the rent, invest money into making real improvements. How old are the shelves in the kitchen? Has the bathroom received an upgrade in the past couple decades? Small-scale landlords who just have a condo or perhaps a few units in one structure need to try to win over tenants who can choose from a plethora of brand new condos in the city.
It’s nice when a tenant can start fresh with a clean slate, and as a landlord it’s wise to pre-emptively prevent problems from arising before they do. Be sure to inspect the unit and the building to smooth out any potential hiccups, as this will spare your tenant headaches and save you time and trouble down the road.
For example, check the drain and the gutters for clogs. Do a comprehensive check for damage from water leakage, pests, or animals.
2. Get Professional Help
Having the backing of an experienced managing company can ensure the entire process is smoother from start to finish. If you’re doing this for your first time, you may not be adept at screening tenants or doing repairs, and mistakes here can be costly down the road.
You can find professional assistance at PropertyManagementTO.com that is aimed at letting smaller-scale landlords get the benefit of experienced handlers familiar with every task of a landlord. Having a pro either lend assistance in whatever aspect you need help in or provide a turnkey solution.
New or inexperienced landlords may not know all the right questions to ask when vetting prospective tenants, or perhaps they don’t have the time or the know-how to deal with everyday repairs. From marketing the units, taking over day-to-day operations, processing repair requests and more, having the assistance of a property management company will make your life easier, and will make you a better landlord too.
3. Upgrade Wisely
When making improvements to the unit, pick carefully. There’s a certain sweet spot you need to be within: if you don’t invest enough in the unit it may not be enough to impress potential tenants, and if you make upgrades that are too expensive it’ll be hard to command the type of return you’d like.
The key is to make upgrades that deliver real value. You’re not going to take out the ceiling and install a skylight, but some well-placed track lights could give a key space a new ambiance.
Improving a bathroom space is vital since hygiene is extra important in this room. Try to find quality hardware that isn’t too trendy. If you get a loud design, it’s liable to go out of fashion quickly. The longer the improvement can remain without needing to be upgraded in turn, the most cost effective it is.
Kitchens also present great opportunities for making small changes that make big impacts. If the cupboards are old and crusty, providing new shelving will make the room where people cook and eat food feel cleaner and more modern.
Make sure that the appliances work properly, but they don’t need to be brand new and made of sparkling stainless steel. Be considerate: if you lived in this space, what would you get for yourself?
Ensure that the basics are covered. If your building doesn’t have central air, make sure there’s a portable A/C unit that works effectively. It doesn’t need to be deluxe, but it needs to work properly so people have a clean, safe and dignified place to live.
4. Price Your Unit Appropriately
Pricing the unit at the right rate is important, especially when the market is fluctuating. For years Toronto rents were steadily climbing, but that has finally changed.
If the price of your apartment is too low, it reduces the level of profit you can recoup. Set it too high and it may sit there vacant on the market.
You want to calibrate the price of the unit according to a few factors. What are similar units in the neighbourhood going for? What is the average price of a unit in your city, and how does the apartment you’re renting stack up against the average by way of comparison?
Maybe you want to rent to students because the unit is near a university, or perhaps you want to set the rent a little higher to try and attract a more mature tenant with a quieter lifestyle.
If push comes to shove, it’s better to find a tenant who is a great match for the unit at a lower price than to sign with a dubious tenant in exchange for rent that’s a little higher. The goal is to have a mutually beneficial relationship that continues happily for as long as possible — if you drop the price for the right tenant, you’ll avoid years of hassles and headaches, and that’ll be well worth the foregone rent income.
People need to have a clean and safe home, and it’s a landlord’s job to provide it. If you take it upon yourself in these changing times to do real repairs, get professional assistance, pick your upgrades carefully, and set the right rates, you and your tenant should enjoy a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.