This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a local property management firm that specializes in residential real estate, commercial real estate and home owner associations. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.
The beginning of a new year brings a great opportunity to assess where you stand and to set some goals for the coming months. For residential property owners, taking an honest look at how your business is performing and the opportunities you have to make it run more smoothly can make owning an investment property more profitable and more enjoyable.
While your goals will depend on your specific situation, these five resolutions can help many landlords avoid problems and find greater success.
1. Commit to preventive maintenance.
Maintaining your rental property can prevent costly repairs, saving you money and hassles due to emergency maintenance issues. It is a good idea to do a thorough walkthrough to evaluate the systems, plumbing, roof and appliances in your rentals at least once a year.
Note anything that needs immediate repair or replacement and budget for items that have limited life left. In addition, make a point of scheduling routine seasonal tasks in spring and fall, such as clearing gutters, cleaning the dryer vent and getting an HVAC check-up.
2. Foster good relationships with your tenants.
Satisfied tenants are more likely to stay, pay rent on time and take good care of your property. And that will make your job as a landlord easier and boost your bottom line.
Set the stage for a good relationship by clearly outlining all policies and responding quickly to questions and repair requests. Then, preserve the relationship by keeping your promises and maintaining a friendly but professional demeanor at all times.
3. Keep an eye on the local market.
Watching rental prices in your neighborhood will help you know whether or not you should raise the rent and by how much. And if you understand what amenities Arlington tenants are looking for, you’ll have an easier time determining what upgrades are worth investing in, such as an in-unit washer/dryer or bathroom renovation.
Having a desirable property and charging optimal rent is key to attracting good tenants and being able to earn a profit.
4. Brush up on local landlord-tenant laws.
Don’t get into hot water because you aren’t aware of your responsibilities. Virginia law recently changed so that more rental owners fall under the commonwealth’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, so make sure you understand the rules that apply to you.
Evaluate your lease agreements and policies to confirm that they follow the law. Arlington County has several guides and documents to help landlords on its website.
5. Value your time.
Assess how much time you’re spending on the business of being a landlord and how much you have left for family and other pursuits. Your time is worth something, so look for any processes you can streamline or consider whether there are parts of the job that might be worth outsourcing this year.
Some reflection, thought and planning will hopefully help you find greater satisfaction and success as a property owner in 2016.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.