We recognize that not all landlords will be functioning locally. Therefore, we have constructed four hacks for the long-distance landlord:
Knowing and trusting professional plumbers, contractors, painters and even pest control companies is a must for the long-distance landlord. Rental properties are investments and must be maintained as such. Whether you are one hour or several flights away from your properties, you need to know and trust pros whom stand at the ready to assist in both routine and emergent situations. Take the time to sift through necessary professionals in order to establish your crew. Try to stick with companies and pros who are located relatively close to your rental(s) and make sure to meet your neighbors as well. When it comes to neighborhood security, neighbors are great at detecting unusual behavior and can be trusted to keep an eye on your properties.
Believe it or not, there are still many property owners who collect monthly rent payments via check, cashiers check and sometimes even cash. To put it simply: DON'T DO THIS! A legitimate rental property owner needs to keep very clear records of payments, dates of payments, how many times a tenant has been late with payment and so much more! Don't forget that you are running a business. Don't risk getting into a mess because a tenant claims their check was "lost in the mail." Create a system for accepting automated, timed payments delivered directly to your bank account via the tenant's debit card, credit card or direct deposit. This process will make things easier for your accountant and you will decrease the likelihood of late or missed payments.
One of the most crucial aspects of rental property ownership is understanding the need to purchase an insurance policy which will meet your needs. Unfortunately, damages will occur and you will need the added protection which your standard homeowners policy will not afford you. This is where you will need to build a good insurance agent/company into your portfolio of trusted professionals. In addition, it is highly recommended that you require your tenant(s) to secure renters insurance which will cover liability damages that might go above and beyond their own financial means.
Make sure to familiarize yourself with the local laws associated with the zip code in which you own rental property. Federal landlord-tenant laws and state-enforced housing laws are equally important. You could potentially save yourself a great deal of financial heartache and possibly a lawsuit by getting a good handle on such laws. In addition, we recommend retaining an attorney who is experienced at handling real estate and rental law in the event that an issue arises. Remember, you will not be local and will need to be able to solve problems over the phone.
Long distance rental property ownership can be a challenge for the ill-prepared. Of course the best strategy for handling any rental property is to hire a reputable property manager whom you can trust to oversee and run things smoothly in your absence. Go after a company which values your investment as much as you do!