Owning a multi-family property is a great investment.
Here are five things you should know to help you be a better landlord and get the most out of your investment
1) Screen Your Potential Tenants Thoroughly
Don’t rent to anyone before doing your due diligence. Check credit history, references, and background as much as you can. Use a written rental application to properly screen your tenants while staying within the guidelines of discrimination laws. You can download one from the Internet or contact us and we’ll send you. Ignoring the screening process today can lead to bad tenants – and the problems that come with them – in the future. In the Commonwealth of MA, it’s a lot harder to get rid of a bad tenant than it is to screen one out before renting.
2) Choose Property Managers and Vendors Carefully
If you’re choosing to not live in the building, you may want to look into hiring a property manager or management company (link) to oversee the day to day operational and maintenance needs. Be very careful when doing this and screen the property managers as diligently as you would your tenants. You may be held financially and legally responsible for any incompetent or illegal activities. Conduct a thorough background check and clearly spell out the manager’s duties to help prevent problems down the road. MultifamilyProperties.com offers a full line of property management services. For more information, click here:
3) Put EVERYTHING in Writing
Be sure to use a written lease or month-to-month rental agreement to document the important facts of your relationship with your tenants. Your lease should include things like; when and how to pay rent, how you will handle tenant complaints and repair problems, how much notice you must give to enter a tenant’s apartment, and what things might be cause for termination of the lease (smoking, drugs, etc.).
If you’re not sure what your rental agreement should contain talk to us and we can help or put you in touch with our legal partners at Liberty Law
4) Settle Disputes Yourself Before They Turn into a Lawsuit.
Remember, you want this to be a good relationship, but not that’s not always going to be the case. If at all possible, try to patch up any disputes with your tenants without lawyers and/or lawsuits. A conversation in a neutral environment (a coffee shop) can often take away the defensive feeling of a landlord/tenant relationship and put you both on “even ground”. If that doesn’t work, consider mediation by a neutral third party. Many cities and towns offer neutral 3rd party mediators available at little or no cost from a publicly funded program. If all else fails, small claims court is still likely a better option than a full-on legal battle.
5) Make Small Repairs Before They Become Big Ones.
Stay on top of maintenance and repair needs makes sense. Proper maintenance keeps little problems from turning into bigger ones and it also is a sign of good faith to tenants you might like to keep long term. In MA, tenants also have the right to withhold rent in a situation where requested (or legally required) repairs are not done. They can also deduct the cost of fixing it themselves from the ren or break the lease based on your negligence. In the worst case, they can sue for damages caused by defective conditions.’
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