I briefly considered naming this article, “Super-simple, Common-sense, No-brainers That Every Sarasota Rental Home Owner Should Know and Use Without a Second Thought,” but my wife (being the smarter one in the family) talked me out of it. That said, if you own a rental home, or condo unit in the Sarasota – Bradenton – Venice – North Port market areas you really should consider the following:
Would you show up for a first date with dirty old clothes, unkempt hair, and bad breath, or would you get yourself all dolled up and be on your best behavior? Showing a rental property to a prospective tenant is much like being on a first date — you should be putting your best foot forward (that applies to you personally, and to the property in general).
You should be carefully evaluating the potential tenants’ behavior for signs of a mismatch. You do not want to find yourself in a bad relationship, and warning signs are usually readily apparent to an astute observer.
Attention to Detail
Believe it or not, it is usually the little things that turn a prospective renter off a property and causes them to move on to another more appropriate offering. Sure you painted the walls, but are the switch-plates dirty and full of fingerprints? Is the outside of the oven sparkling, but the inside, not so much? Are half the light-bulbs missing? Does the doorbell not work? Do the closet doors easily come off the tracks when you try to open them?
Did you decide to save twenty-bucks by keeping the ratty looking toilet seat? Is the caulking around the tubs, toilets, and sinks old, dirty, or missing? Are the blinds dirty and broken? These are all straightforward and inexpensive fixes that go along way towards turning off or turning on a prospective renter, so do be sure to pay close attention to detail.
There’s nothing wrong with allowing pets at your properties. In fact, since roughly 50% of renters have pets, it is a good idea to allow pets in your rentals— but are you going about it correctly? Do your tenants have to complete a separate “pet application” for each pet as part of the lease, and do you require that they submit photos of each pet?
Do you charge tenants who have pets an additional monthly “pet rent” to compensate you for the inevitable extra wear and tear on a property that pets bring? Do you have limitations on the type, size, and number of pets that are allowed and is it spelled out in your lease? Allowing pets in your rental can be an added profit center, but you must go about it correctly.
Does a renter show up with cash and want to give you an immediate deposit and move in next weekend? HUGE Red Flag! You need to have a process that includes: criminal background checks, credit checks, eviction checks, employment verification, income verification. You should ONLY accept certified funds (no cash, no personal checks) for deposits and first months’ rent payments, and under no circumstance do you proceed with a move-in until all checks have cleared and the money is in your account!
If you are going to be a landlord who doesn’t hire a professional property manager, but chooses instead to be on call for your tenants 24/7/365, then the least you can do for your sanity is to get a separate phone line solely for tenant communications.
Ignore this advice at your peril! Also, use a P.O. Box for mailing — NEVER give tenants your home address. If you do, you are looking for trouble.
The very worst time to be searching for a tradesperson is when you need one! You should have all of the vendors that you might need interviewed and lined up well before the pipes break, or the A/C goes down. A short-list should include:
- Air Conditioning and Heating Repair
- Window Repair
- Septic pump-out (where applicable)
- Eviction Attorney
- Process Server
If you plan to self-manage your rental properties, these landlord tips and tricks for Sarasota rental homes should make your life easier. Of course, with 30+ years in the real estate business, I could write a whole book (another book) on landlord tips and tricks, but this should be a good start, and keep you out of the lion’s share of trouble.
If you decide that self-managing is taking up too much of your time, click the link to download my Free Guide to “Finding the Best Property Manager For You.” Of course, you can always find more tips for landlords on our website, or call me at 941-225-8185. Happy Landlording!
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