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First-Time Landlord? Do This! | Gulf Coast Property Management Tips

First-Time Landlord? Do This! | Gulf Coast Property Management Tips

If you're a beginner landlord, you're always researching and discovering new ways to improve your income and enhance the profitability of your Gulf Coast rental home. Regardless of how far along you've gotten with your search for property prosperity, we know as an experienced Gulf Coast property management company that there are some key tips and tricks every property owner should know!

Whether some of these are new to you or you're learning them for the first time, these tidbits of acquired wisdom will help light the way as you continue to gitem in your own experience.Even if you already have more than one rental property—or you've been managing your Gulf Coast rental home for more than a year or two—these insights will continue to serve you for the duration of your time as a property owner. Plus, they may give you pause if you haven't been implementing them to date!

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite landlord tips we've learned over the years in our role as property managers.

A quick note: The following article is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you need immediate guidance for successfully managing your Gulf Coast rental home, turn to the experts at Gulf Coast Property Management for real-time assistance!

1. Stay Polite and Professional

We've talked before about how crucial it is to retain great working relationships with your renters inside and outside of a crisis to encourage timely rental payments, considerate use of your property, and year-after-year renewals. Delighting your renters doesn't have to be complicated—it can be as simple as staying on top of and providing excellent maintenance services. However, forging working relationships with your renters doesn't mean you should be getting "friendly" with them. What do we mean by this?

We're not saying you shouldn't be "friendly" in the sense of the tone of your interaction with your renters. However, you should avoid getting "too personal" as a property owner. While we've all gotten a little more familiar with the situations facing our renters in the wake of the pandemic, your sense of professionalism should never slip. Once you've crossed the property owner-renter boundary with your residents, it's hard (if not impossible) to go back. Maintaining this kind of buffer between your personal life and your rental business is crucial if you intend to stay successful long term.

If you find yourself crossing this line often with your renters, it might be time to turn to the experts at Gulf Coast Property Management to help create the kind of polite distancing you need to maintain a profitable rental home.

2. Don't Use a Pre-Fabricated Lease Agreement

We've all seen a "free" lease agreement here and there scattered across the internet. The temptation to use such a seemingly easy document to solve your issues as a landlord is real: after all, capable legal counsel can often be expensive! However, don't trust those pre-fabricated leasing agreements you find online! Some are not only flimsy, one-size-fits-all documents (hardly an air-tight lease!), but others have misleading language in them that can be used against you by seasoned "Professional Tenants." Don't let disaster befall your Gulf Coast rental home: use the right documents the first time!

Using a lease custom to your needs also makes it easier for you to add supplementary language if you need it later, like with a pet deposit or payment plan. Essentially, you need a lease that is flexible enough to adapt to your needs while remaining stable and reliable everywhere else. If you're not sure how to craft one of these on your own, working with an expert property manager who is well-versed in landlord-renter law in Sarasota or Manatee County is ideal.

3. Price Your Rental Home Correctly

Pricing your rental home is where your landlord journey should always begin, and it's never based on your feelings or opinions about the property. At Gulf Coast Property Management, we use a cutting-edge rental analysis process to price the rental homes we manage using hard data.

We've talked before about how property owners can perform this kind of research to avoid pricing their properties too high and also avoid underpricing their properties compared to the market. However, if in-depth pricing research isn't really your idea of a good time, you can also turn to us for a FREE rental analysis! We're happy to save you the time and effort of hunting down the right rental rate—especially if you already feel overwhelmed by everything else on your plate.

Turnover costs are often higher than the cost of a vacant rental home, so it's better to avoid increasing the risk of turnover by pricing your rentals correctly from the start rather than feeling rushed to raise your price during lease renewals. That's an easy way to lose great renters.

Beautiful young woman working with laptop and writing in notebook

4. Always Screen Your Renters—Always

This is one tip you CANNOT afford to skip! Not only is screening the first line of defense for your rental home from predatory Professional Tenants, but it also cuts your risk for hidden bias in half. It's easy for bias—even unintended bias—to creepy into any property owner's screening process. We've all had positive and negative experiences with people in the past, and these experiences can cloud the judgement of even the clearest thinker. Developing a consistent screening procedure that you apply to each of your rental applicants across the board protects you! Only screening here and there based on your feelings about a prospective applicant is a great way to land on the losing side of a courtroom.

If there's only one thing we could recommend that you leave in the hands of a skilled Gulf Coast property management company, it would be this specific issue. Accidental discrimination is still discrimination, and trusting a professional third party to handle your screening process protects you as the property owner while ensuring you find the best possible renter!

5. Provide the Best Maintenance Services Possible

We touched on this briefly above, but if there's one thing you can do as a property owner to keep your renters satisfied and renewing year after year, it's providing the best property maintenance services possible! One of the all-time top tenant complaints is shoddy, slow, or nonexistent maintenance. You'll be the landlord every renter wishes for when you provide excellent maintenance services for your renters!

One aspect of rental property maintenance that many landlords often fail to address is seasonal maintenance. Routine property inspections will tell you where and when you need to do these particular tasks, but they are definitely something worth addressing as a landlord because they delight your tenants and keep your property in peak condition! Sure, your renters will handle some aspects of upkeep for the rental property (such as lawn care if you happen to own a single-family rental), but other elements of seasonal maintenance are your responsibility as the landlord.

A great place to get started when tackling these topics is by downloading our FREE Seasonal Maintenance Checklist! If you choose not to rely on Gulf Coast Property Management for your maintenance needs, this checklist can help you stay organized and focused while facing maintenance head on!