How to Manage a Rental Property Remotely (Tools and Tips)
There are many reasons to manage rental property remotely.
You may have inherited a property far from home, you may be investing from afar in the 10 states with no property tax in 2021, or you may prefer to manage property in one of the more landlord-friendly states.
Whatever your reasons, there’s plenty you can do to make the experience easier for yourself.
Here are 16 tips.
1. In-Person Representation
A representative who speaks on your behalf is the next best thing to you being there personally. Whether it’s an inspection, maintenance, or an emergency, having a face that your tenants get to know is one way to establish a positive relationship.
One tip for easy rental tenant turnover management is having a maintenance crew that you trust to grant enough autonomy that they don't need your supervision or consultation to do their work.
3. Rent Collection
If you collect rent online, then you can collect rent from afar without any delay. This way, you’ll never have to worry about rent checks getting lost in the mail, and your tenants can make use of auto bill-pay.
4. Responsive Communication
Make clear what your preferred methods of communication are and respond quickly. Unresponsiveness is a frequent tenant complaint.
After all, if tenants have a complaint and you take too long to respond, how else should they react if not by assuming you don’t prioritize them as tenants?
The longer they sit with complaints and issues, the more likely they are to look for a new place.
Additionally, you might find yourself with a surprising liability if taking too long to respond compromises the implied warranty of habitability, which is a tenant’s fundamental right to a livable space.
5. Consider a Tenant Portal
A tenant portal can be your online hub for interacting with tenants. You can share information, they can pay bills, and you can even manage their maintenance requests.
An online maintenance request system can let you review requests, color code requests based on importance, assign them to contractors or handypersons, and track progress.
6. Prioritizing Bookkeeping
From depreciation to choosing the right legal entity for your real estate investment, tax advantages are among the top reasons real estate is a great investment opportunity. But to make use of those tax advantages, you need to prioritize bookkeeping.
7. Tenant Screening
Screening to ensure successful residents for your rental property is key to managing a rental property remotely, and it all starts with knowing how to write a great rental listing.
By stressing how rigorous your tenant screening process will be and your strict rental criteria, you can find a tenant that’s less likely to miss or be late with a payment. Although, this wouldn’t be the case if you were investing in Class C or Class D properties to get a better cash-on-cash return.
When it comes to such properties, a more challenging rent collection is often par for the course.
If you can’t make it out for viewings, this is yet another time that having a trustworthy representative comes in handy. You can also take advantage of technology and use virtual tours or self-self showings. These can be managed online and make the viewing experience more smooth, if implemented correctly.
Subletting, along with smoking and pets, is one of the top common, preventable lease violations. So, whether you’re using a free rental agreement template or have one already written, make it very clear in your lease agreement what your policy is on subletting.
10. Go Over the Rules Once
When it comes to important topics, from fire prevention to subletting, you or a representative should go over the documents together at least once since it may otherwise be unlikely that your tenants will read things in full (including lease agreements).
11. Document Signing
Luckily, signing documents is very easy to do remotely. It’s unnecessary to even purchase a subscription to a particular service since the ability to sign documents digitally comes standard.
12. Rent Changes
Whether it’s an increase or a decrease, you’ll want a formal letter to inform your tenants of any rent changes.
Make sure not to announce rent increases during the holidays or on a date that’s important to your tenant, like a birthday or anniversary. That simple consideration is one of the gestures that show tenant appreciation and increase lease renewals.
13. Send Gifts
Another gesture to make your tenant feel appreciated is having a small gift basket waiting for them when they move in and providing gift cards on special occasions.
If the certificate is to or the gift basket is from a local business, the gift will also help tether the tenant to their local community. A strong connection to one’s neighborhood is yet another motivating factor to resign a lease.
14. Install a Security System
Failing to protect tenants from crime effectively is another surprising liability. The likelihood of being held liable increases if the landlord knew the crime or similar crimes have happened on or around the property.
For this reason, you may want to install a security system. A security system can effectively deter vandalism and other forms of criminal activity.
You should also consider keyless entry. With keyless entry, you just have to change the combination when a new tenant moves in. You also don’t have to worry about a tenant losing their keys.
15. Plan a Yearly Visit
Seeing your property once a year is an opportunity to perform an inspection and maintain a personal connection with your tenant. An in-person visit will go a long way to making your tenant feel like they and the property are a priority to you.
16. Have a Zero-Tolerance Policy
If you were seeing your tenants regularly or lived nearby, you could afford to be laxer with individual policies and give more opportunities to get things right.
However, living farther away makes it more challenging to make sure tenants aren’t taking advantage of your generosity. In general, managing a property remotely makes things more challenging, so the fewer challenges you face, the better.
For this reason, make it clear in your lease agreement how you’ll handle early lease terminations as a way to emphasize the consequences of lease violations.
Bottom Line on Managing Your Rental Property Remotely
Thanks to technology, remotely managing a rental property is easier than ever.
Although, using a property manager or some other trust representative is something you should consider to lighten the load and maintain a positive tenant relationship.
The key to success is not to confuse being remote with being unresponsive. Open and prompt communication is paramount.