There’s always a risk of making mistakes when you own rental property. However, DIY landlords tend to make those mistakes more frequently because they don’t have the experience that professional property managers have. Some mistakes are simple and easy to correct. Others are expensive and throw a wrench into your plans for a successful investment experience.
One of the benefits to hiring a professional Merced property management company is that you’re protected from many of the common mistakes that self-managing landlords make.
The following mistakes are the errors we see most often when DIY landlords ask us for help untangling themselves from a sticky situation.
Legal and Fair Housing Mistakes
Renting out a property in Merced has become riskier than ever, thanks to some pretty comprehensive laws that went into effect recently. We’re also dealing with an eviction moratorium as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
You need to understand the rent control laws, just cause eviction laws, fair housing laws, and requirements concerning Section 8 applicants who use their housing vouchers as income. A lot of DIY landlords don’t understand whether their properties are included or excluded in the Tenant Protection Act. Many have not adjusted their lease agreements to reflect these new laws.
Make sure you’re up to date on all the state, local, and federal laws. If you’re not, you could easily violate a regulation and find yourself in legal trouble.
Incomplete Tenant Screening
Good tenants pay rent on time, take care of your property, and contribute to a successful and stress-free rental experience. You don’t want to chase down late rent, pay for lingering damage and deferred maintenance, or find yourself in a very long line at the courthouse trying to evict your resident.
Sometimes, self-managing landlords will not conduct a full and thorough tenant screening process or they’ll run a credit check and feel like that’s all they need to do. Tenant screening is too important to be taken lightly.
If you’re managing your own property, establish standard rental criteria and document your process. Check national eviction and criminal databases, look at credit and financial stability, and verify income and employment. Check rental references. Don’t skimp on tenant screening.
Mistakes with Vendors and Maintenance
Working with professional vendors and contractors who are licensed, insured, and bonded is an important part of protecting your Merced rental property. A lot of DIY landlords will try to save some money by doing the work themselves or sending a friend over to paint the walls or trim the tree branches back from the roof. This is a terrible idea. Professional vendors do better work. They are also protected if there’s an injury or damage caused to the property.
A cost-effective maintenance strategy is important. Don’t make the mistake of seeking out the cheapest possible workers or using sub-standard materials when you’re attending to routine maintenance. Be preventative and use good, qualified vendors who stand by their work. Otherwise, you’re putting your entire investment at risk.
Lease Enforcement Falters
Your lease agreement is a written contract between you and your tenants. You have to enforce it and hold both yourself and your residents accountable to what’s included there.
If rent isn’t paid on time and your lease includes a rent collection policy with late fees, make sure you charge those late fees. If smoking is prohibited and you notice the entire property smells like smoke, address that with your tenant. When you don’t allow pets but there are dogs running around the yard, you need to enforce your no-pet policy.
Tenants need to know you take the lease agreement seriously. Don’t make the mistake of not communicating, sharing your expectations, or enforcing the lease.
These are just three of the most common errors we see. Unfortunately, managing your own Merced rental property comes with a lot of risk, liability, and potential for mistakes. We can help you have a better investment experience. Contact us at River Drive Properties for professional help.
River Drive Properties provides effective and professional property management services in Merced and the surrounding areas including Fresno, Modesto, and Turlock. We have extensive experience with both single-family homes and multifamily properties.