I have been a landlord for both multifamily and single family homes for over 20 yearsâ€¦.I totally agree with what has been said by Jane and expanded on by Patricia, background checks are simply mandatory, no exceptions, and the follow-up is critical to finding out what previous landlords have to say, that they are indeed employedâ€¦current pay stubs are good to see, look for red flags, no rental history, living at home when they are 40 years old, criminal history or eviction history. Remember, for an eviction to show up on public records says that the previous landlord had to go the distance to have the tenant removed. I let my tenants know that EVERYONE gets a background check so that my tenants THEIR neighbors have been screened.
As for prospective tenants, donâ€™t RUSHâ€¦.I have found that the worst decisions that I have made is when I rush to fill a vacancyâ€¦.the cash flow overrides logic and reason and I end up taking someone that has to move right away and itâ€™s the end of the month, or someone with a hard luck story, partial security, maybe an eviction history etc and they almost ALWAYS turn out to be a problem tenant. BE PATIENTâ€¦once you have a good tenant, they will stay for a number of years. I have had one tenant for 17 years and my average tenant has been with me for 5 or 6 years. Less turnover is more profit, less headaches, and overall builds a strong professional Landlord Tenant relationship.
As for the property, I agree with James in concept. The property needs to have adequate liability insurance and nowadays, if you are east of 95, citizens is only giving you 100k liability so think about an umbrella to bring that number upâ€¦the costs are reasonable. MAKE SURE that if something isnâ€™t working in your apartment or home, or is marginal FIX it prior to renting itâ€¦if you donâ€™t, then you will surely get that late night phone call. Further, as an example if you notice that there is a large broken piece of concrete that you have to step over each time when accessing the property, then you should simply fix it or else you might be held liable for someone slipping and falling. Wherever you see things that could be issues, take care of them asapâ€¦
BE responsive to problems brought to your attention by your tenant, be clear if you are going to fix it or not and why, and if you are, do it quickly and thank them for bringing it to your attention and apologize for the inconvenienceâ€¦.
Enforce your lease â€¦ie if a tenant is late with rent, let them know what the late charges are â€¦â€¦.there are exceptions, but in general I tell tenants, their â€œjobâ€ is to pay rent on time, keep the apartment clean, and donâ€™t disturb their neighbors, my â€œjobâ€ is to fix things when they break and give them a nice place to live.
And use a Florida approved leaseâ€¦James mentions using a Realtor, that will help you get going in the right direction with respect to avoiding discrimination, ensuring lead based pamphlets etc are given to the tenants, as well as doing the background checks for you.
ALL that sounds a bit much, and sorry for such a long email, but once you get the hang of it, and you get a good tenant, being a landlord can be and should be a good fun and of course profitable business for you. You should do fine!!