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5 Biggest DIY Landlord Mistakes

Many property owners choose to become landlords as this business venture allows them to be their own bosses and set their own work hours. Being a do-it-yourself landlord can be a rewarding experience, especially for those who value playing an active role in managing their business processes. However, this endeavor can come with its share of challenges. 

In this article, we’ll explore the five biggest DIY landlord mistakes and cover ways to avoid these issues for a smoother and more successful property management journey.

DIY Landlord Considerations

Jumping into self-managing rental properties can be a misstep in some circumstances, one that many new landlords tend to take. It’s easy to underestimate how many unique responsibilities come with being a DIY landlord, and for some, the commitment is going to be too great.

Managing a rental property, or group of rental properties, calls for more than simply collecting rent payments each month. This line of work demands experience and the ability to address maintenance needs and emergencies head-on. It takes time and effort to be a good landlord, so those who are new to the process need to be prepared for the demands ahead.

If you plan to conduct all of your property management tasks on your own for the first time, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you know how to make standard repairs and address maintenance needs?
  • Do you have the time available to be a dedicated landlord?
  • Do you know about all of the laws you need to comply with to manage your own rental properties?
  • Do you know how to screen potential tenants?
  • Are you willing to deal with after-hours tenant requests or emergencies?

If you’ve answered “no” to the questions in this short list, you might need some assistance. Fear not, though, because professional property managers are just one call away. Hiring a dedicated property management team can help you maximize your income and handle all of the complexities that come with owning rental units.

With that covered, if you’ve answered affirmatively to most or all of these questions, you’re likely going to have what it takes to be an excellent DIY landlord. Embarking on this adventure requires careful planning, so while you’re getting started, do your best to avoid making the following mistakes.

1- Not Taking Professional Photos 

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to marketing rental properties. One of the most common DIY landlord mistakes involves neglecting the importance of the photos used in their listings. Most potential tenants are going to ignore listings that don’t show photos of the property, but low-quality photos can be just as damaging.

Professional images can significantly enhance the appeal of your rental property, and attract more potential tenants as a result. Investing in taking high-quality photos is a small expense that can make a world of difference in terms of showcasing your property in the best light.

Remember, you want to represent your property accurately, so don’t use professional photos to misrepresent the unit. Instead, use them in ways that make potential tenants feel like they can see the value in what you’re offering.

2- Not Inspecting the Property

Conducting regular property inspections is crucial for identifying issues early on and ensuring the overall well-being of an owner’s investments. New landlords sometimes neglect to handle routine inspections, which can lead to maintenance issues going unnoticed. This is one of several landlord mistakes that can quickly escalate into costly repairs. 

To avoid running into this issue, it’s important to schedule regular unit inspections (whether the property is vacant or occupied). It’s a good idea to schedule move-in inspections, move-out inspections, and standard inspections at least every six months. This way, you can catch small problems before they become serious headaches. Not to mention, inspections are a great way to maintain a safe and comfortable living space for your tenants.

3- Not Raising the Rent Every Year

Failing to adjust rental rates annually is one of several common landlord mistakes, as neglecting to keep up with market rates can result in rental incomes falling behind. It’s important to stay informed about local rental trends and adjust rental rates accordingly. Doing so helps ensure that an owner’s rental properties remain competitive in the market. Regular rent increases also help to offset rising property maintenance expenses over time.

Keep in mind, in the state of Virginia, there is no real limit on how much a landlord can increase rent prices each year. However, it’s important to align your increases with what’s happening in the rest of your area. You don’t want to hike rents so high that you push away potential tenants, but standard rent increases are expected among renters.

4- Letting the Tenant Do Repairs

When leasing properties, it’s essential for landlords to address tenant concerns and complaints promptly. Though handling routine maintenance requests can be a headache, allowing tenants to take on the repairs themselves is one of the most serious landlord mistakes to make. Letting tenants take on repairs can lead to subpar workmanship, which may result in more damage being done in the long run. In addition, having tenants perform repairs can lead to liability issues if the tenant gets hurt or violates building codes during the process.

Steer clear of this mistake by either handling routine maintenance requests yourself, or hiring qualified professionals to make repairs when the need arises. When you ensure that someone who knows what they’re doing is taking care of your unit, you can protect your investment by having the requested work done correctly.

5- Giving Out Personal Contact Information

Maintaining a professional boundary is crucial when it comes to preserving landlord-tenant relationships. Getting along with tenants and having positive interactions is ideal, but most professionals would advise against becoming too friendly with the people you’re renting to. You’re operating a business at the end of the day, and it’s important to keep your involvement with tenants professional.

Avoid the mistake of giving out your personal contact information, such as your home phone number, personal email address, or home address. Instead, it’s wise to use a dedicated business phone number and email address for all of your rental property communications. This action not only helps you preserve your professionalism as a landlord but also safeguards your privacy.

By being aware of these common landlord mistakes and taking proactive steps to avoid them, landlords can enhance their property management skills and create positive experiences for both themselves and their tenants. Learn from these pitfalls, stay informed, and do your best to continue improving your approach to achieve success in your role as a landlord.

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