10 tips for new landlords
Tom Lucier, author of The
Florida Landlord's Manual, offers these 10 tips for beginning
1. Start small. The
ideal starter rental is your own house because you know the condition
of the property. Try one rental house and see if you like it and
can handle it before buying a multi-unit building.
2. Rent your house unfurnished.
Provide only a stove, refrigerator and washer-dryer hookups.
3. Do your own repairs. Maintenance
companies can chew up your profits.
4. Aim high. Neighborhoods
near military bases are great places for income property because
transient military families tend to rent instead of buy.
5. Specify. Use qualifiers
in your for-rent advertising. Saying "no pets" or "good
credit required" will save you time and effort in screening
word of mouth. Offer a tenant referral fee of $50 to $100
to your good tenants to fill your vacancies. Good tenants tend to
know other good tenants.
7. Don't live in your own
rental. As appealing as a duplex or four-plex might look
on paper, neither you nor your tenants will feel comfortable in
close proximity to each other.
8. Buy for you. Only
buy income property in areas where you would want to live yourself.
9. Don't overlook niche markets.
For instance, by making your door openings 36-inches wide and installing
grab bars and a ramp, you can rent to people in wheelchairs. It's
a great way to do some good -- and you'll always have tenants.
10. Don't convert the beloved
family home to a rental. If you've lived in a home forever
and raised your kids in it, sell it rather than rent it because
you've got emotional attachments that will prevent you from treating
it strictly as a business investment.
Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor
based in Florida.