How to Be a Calgary Landlord: Top Ten Tips for Managing Tenants
10.) Be Knowledgeable
To make landlording an easier task, you need to be well equipped to handle the problems that you will face. The best way to do this is through education. Books, courses, and mentors are all great ways to improve your abilities. When you have questions – ask the pros. Call Service Alberta 310-0000 (toll-free anywhere in Alberta) or call your fav Realtor (me) and get the info you need. Lots of free info out there - Listen to podcasts, talk with other investors, and teach others what you know. Education doesn’t end with high school or college – it simply becomes more important.
9.) Create a Policy – Stick to it
If you are running your rental business off the top of your head, making up the rules as you go – you are opening yourself up for a lot of problems. Tenants will know if you are making rules up on the spot so having a written policy that you give to your tenant will make life much easier. Rather than trying to explain why a certain action is not allowed, you simply can refer to the policy. “I’m sorry Jerry – our policy states .........." People tend to not question “policy” even if you are the one who created that policy. Once you create that policy don’t deviate from it.
8.) Quality Tenants
While this isn’t a hard and fast perfect rule, in general the quality of your tenant will depend largely on the quality of the home you are providing. As a landlord, your product is not only the rental itself. Your business is part of the product, and the way you run your business will affect how your tenant views your product. Fix repairs quickly, maintain strict professionalism, and stay organized.
7.) Set Office Hours
Who wants to fix repairs at 10:00 at night? How about receiving phone calls at 6:00 am? As a Calgary landlord – you get to set your own hours. Let your tenants know your availability - example between 10am- 4pm on weekdays. When they do call outside of office hours – let the call go to voicemail.
6.) Know When To Outsource
Many repairs can be easily fixed and many more cannot. If you are extremely handy with construction and tools you may do all the repairs yourself. Keep in mind, that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. In order to be a successful landlord – you need to balance cost savings with enjoyment. If you hate fixing things – don’t. You can also have the tenants fix things and send in a receipt for you to pay.
5.) Be Organized
Have all the forms you need organized neatly in your file cabinets or in electronic format. Keep current with your accounting. Have a clean office. These, and many other organization tools. Don’t underestimate organization.
4.) Always Charge a Late Fee
Always charge a late fee – and it known ahead of time about this policy in writing. By being strict with late payments – you place “rent” higher on the priority scale than other obligations. Additionally, the extra income when rent is late is a nice compensation for the stress of not getting rent on time.
3.) No Family/Friends
Renting to family or friends is one of the most common but most disastrous mistakes many landlords make. JUST DON'T DO IT! --- > No more stress from these relationships.
#2.) Don’t Be The Owner
This is especially true for those of you who are non-confrontational. As a landlord – you are going to face a lot of tough decisions and awkward conversations. When you are the owner – the blame is on you. Instead, simply become the property manager. “no, I’m sorry – the owner doesn’t allow dogs here.” Additionally, you can tell the tenant “I need to talk to the owner about this” to buy yourself time to think about odd requests. Instead of the tenant being upset with you – they are now upset with the mysterious “owner.”
1.) Applications / Screening
Finally, my number one tip for being a successful Calgary landlord: Take applications and screen your prospects. THIS IS VITAL. Choose not to do this - and you risk your investment. Simple as that really. You know those horror stories you have heard - yah they come from not screening prospects. Take an application, take your time to do due diligence and be consistent with this.
Your Realtor Denis Hrstic