The Short Truth of Being Long-Distance Landlord
Travel has made the world a smaller place and technology has helped to keep us together. Real estate investors too have found that they no longer need to invest in the neighborhood they live in or even the city they live in. Investing in other cities, states and sometime even countries is now possible. Sometimes this isn’t always by design (those who have moved to a new city and rented out their home), but either way technology has stepped up to make that processes easier.
Here are few tips that might bring ease to this process:
Get Tenant and Accounting Software
You and your tenants can save time by storing everything in the cloud while also collecting rent online. Collecting rent via the mail just isn’t safe anymore because of the given amount of information the tenant provides on the check and with new thieves looking for checks in mailboxes. Look for property management software that allows tenants to pay rent via ACH or credit card transactions, like TenantCloud.com. It is a good choice for long-distance landlords, as it does all you need: online lease signing, invoicing, managing maintenance requests, online communication and a lot more. It’s accounting functions allow for automatic invoicing and late fees. Their security provides a place for landlords and tenants to make payment is a safe and secure environment without worrying about thieves.
In addition you can set up a marketing website on TenantCloud for free, list your vacant units and wait for rental applications and even purchase background check reports right within your account. TenantCloud will allow you to set up a residential lease agreement and send to your tenants for their e-signature. This leaves you with just having to focus on any decision to be made and that’s it!
As we mentioned before, long distance landlording can feel much like long-distance romantic relationships, so keeping up on communication is a must. As a landlord, it’s your job to establish regular communication with your tenants by phone, email, or text message and maintain this line of communication throughout their tenancy. If you use TenantCloud then this can be all in one place and if a maintenance issue arises then you can include one of your local contacts to help with the situation. If you allow many avenues for communication like text, email, facebook, fax, phone and more then you also have to remember how the tenant got ahold of you. Having it all in one convenient location saves you time later and allows the communication to be consistent. In the event of a legal dispute you need to be able to print the message out and have it in a place you can easily find it, so there are no questions as to the communication and arrangement. TenantCloud will also allow you to create reminders for things like arranged rent payments, so you can keep track of what was agreed upon.
Find a Good Team
When you are working remotely and unable to physically be available, it is great to have contacts you can count on. If you’re not renting to someone you know well, maybe you have at least someone who would be willing to drive by the property every few months just to check on the condition. Another wise decision would be to get acquainted with the neighbors in the area and sign up for any neighborhood newsletter or social media that might exist. They can be excellent resources for information regarding any suspicious behavior at your property or issues your tenants are facing. When renting to someone you don’t know, make sure you do a good background check on their rental history. Contact their references and look into how they treated last rental - best indicator of how they will treat yours.
Ensure Your Tenants are Insured
Make sure you are insured. Most landlords don’t know that renter’s insurance can cover the dwelling as well, which means if the tenant left the water on and it flooded then it’s covered. Renter’s insurance can help cover many things for the landlord and should be a required part of renting. Renter’s insurance ranges from $120-$250 a year, which is a small amount for what it can assist with in regard to both tenant and the landlord. Renter’s insurance does not offset a deposit, but will help in the event of a fire, break in or other type of damages happen to the rental.
Maintain the Maintenance
One of the main duties of the landlord is to manage their tenants’ maintenance requests. And it’s very easy to do with TenantCloud. When a tenant submits a work order, they have to choose a category, sub-category, issue and sub-issue, there is also an option to attach a photo. This information will help a service pro to understand the issue quicker. Then a tenant fills in the residential information: date and time when she’s available in the property, authorization to enter and pets in residence. This is all that service pro needs to know before coming and fixing the problem.
What is great about TenantCloud is you can see the maintenance request with a picture or video and then connect a service pro to the feed and they can chat with the tenant to set up a time to come by and fix the issue. Not only the chat, but when the job is done the service pro can upload a picture and even send you an invoice of which you can pay without even having to leave your chair in a whole other city.
In short, being a great long distance landlord is an achievable goal with the right tenant and accounting tool in place. Whatever the case, make it easy on yourself by being prepared for emergencies, maintaining regular communication with tenants, finding reliable repairmen, and of course, a great software to help you manage your properties and tenant.