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  • Scott Westfall

5 Things All Smart Landlords Should Do in 2024

Protecting the value of your short-term or long-term rental property as a landlord is essential. Here are 5 simple ways you can protect your real estate investment in Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads, or around the world.

Landlord reviewing lease agreement with a tenant

Every rental property owner wants to bring in consistent monthly cash flow while increasing the value of their property - aiming for a fruitful cash-out someday. To confidently build wealth through rental properties, smart landlords take care to protect their cash flow and maintain the condition of their property.

Renting your property out always comes with risk - but there are helpful steps you can take to protect your investment. While you want to be a good landlord that your tenants enjoy renting from, you certainly need to protect the asset of your rental property with wisdom and discernment.

Whether you are considering renting your property out for the first time or a seasoned self-managing landlord, here are 5 simple ways to protect your real estate investment.

Trust but verify

You want to be able to trust your applicants (they could be your future tenants!), and you can express confidence throughout the application process while still making sure everything is in order. Develop a firm policy to check the following items before offering a lease, and stick to it while communicating with kindness and respect:

  • Full background check (including criminal history)

  • Credit History

  • Tenant History

  • Income verification

  • Phone-Call References (with most recent landlord and current employer)

Keep your leases or contracts airtight

Don’t simply print out an online lease template. Have a real estate professional review your lease to make sure there’s no room for disaster. If you dread working with a Realtor, consider asking a real estate consultant to assist you for a flat fee.

Here are a few key items to consider including in your next lease:

  • Make sure when, where, and how rent is to be paid, as well as what happens when a rent payment is missed, is crystal clear.

  • Outline who is responsible for what - such as landscaping, utilities, pest control, etc.

  • Include a clause that allows you or a representative to inspect the property quarterly to make sure the property is being kept in proper condition, and to check that the tenants are complying with the lease.

  • Understand your own lease, and make sure you’re ready to take proper action in accordance with it if something goes wrong.

  • Make sure it is compliant with the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act (VLTA) - or any similar legislation in your area.

Conduct written and video move-in inspections

With these on record, you will be protected from responsibility for future damages, and it will be hard for a tenant to pull one over on you.

If there are any disputes during move-out regarding damage, having a video inspection should clear it up quickly. It will also provide your tenants peace of mind that they won’t be charged for issues present at move-in.

Set clear ground rules

If you let tenants know your expectations from the start, you will minimize conflict or confusion later. A few ways to help set these expectations and empower them to be respectful tenants:

  • When the tenants first arrive, make sure that the property is in the best possible condition so that they know how it should look when they leave, and so future damages cannot be blamed on you.

  • Leave written instructions regarding how to use major systems or appliances to make it easy for your tenants to take proper care of them.

  • If there are items that need specific care - like those special bamboo floors - leave a clear note about what types of cleaners or maintenance they need.

Schedule regular maintenance on your property

Plan for and schedule regular service for the major items on your property, such as HVAC or crawl spaces. Don’t forget to factor in pest control as well.

Not only will routine maintenance visits add value for your tenants, but they will also ensure that professionals are checking out the property regularly. Don’t forget - you can typically write off these expenses!

These five tips will help you protect your monthly cash flow and the long-term value of your rental property, whether you’re in Virginia Beach, greater Hampton Roads, or another location. As a self-managing landlord, make sure to plan ahead so that your short-term or long-term rental is an asset, not a hassle.

The Bottom Line

To best protect the longevity of your investment, it’s important to have everything in place from the very start of the application process. Thorough verification, airtight leases, recorded inspections, clear expectations, and regular maintenance can all help ensure the success of your real estate investment.

To get expert consultation on any of these processes to empower you to invest in rental properties with confidence, contact one of our experienced real estate consultants at CGP today.

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