Are you leasing, managing, and maintaining a rental home in Kansas City on your own? When you are self-managing an investment property, you’re likely going to make a mistake or two. This is something even experienced landlords and investors deal with. Mistakes are easy to make. There are going to be oversights. Unless you have a lot of experience managing properties and dealing with tenants and maintenance vendors and legal requirements, you can expect to miss some important details.
The problem is, these oversights are often costly. They can damage your reputation and even diminish
your interest in continuing to grow as a real estate investor.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Kansas City property management can help. When you partner with a local property management company, there are fewer mistakes and less risk.
Here are some of the oversights that property managers can easily help you avoid.
Pricing Your Kansas City Rental Property
Rental values are market-driven. A lot of landlords don’t think about what competing properties are renting for or what tenants are willing to pay, and they’ll price their home according to what they think it’s worth or what they want to earn. This is a huge oversight.
You need to price your property accurately, competitively, and profitably. Property managers have the data and the local market expertise that can help you settle on the right price.
Pricing your property too low means leaving money on the table. It’s also dangerous because you may struggle to ever catch up with the market rents. Each renewal can only be so high; so, if your current tenant is paying below market rents and they stay in place for 10 years…you’re losing a lot.
Pricing your property too high is also a terrible oversight. You can expect a longer vacancy period. It will take weeks and probably even months to find someone willing to rent your home at a price that’s too high. Eventually, you’ll have to lower your asking price in order to place a tenant, and you’ll already have lost a lot of potential rental income.
Professional property managers are better – and more accurate – when it comes to pricing.
The Wrong Tenants
Choosing the wrong tenant is an easy oversight for independent landlords. You’re in a hurry to get someone placed and your rent coming in. Perhaps you’re not looking too closely at the data that’s meant to be collected during the screening process.
Most commonly, landlords don’t do a thorough job of evaluating the qualifications of an applicant. It’s a mistake to simply run a credit check and then approve or deny the tenant based on a credit score. It’s a mistake not to ask for income verification, and it’s a mistake not to talk to former landlords. It is also a mistake to rent to tenants that you “like”.
Tenant screening is best left to professionals with resources and experience. Property managers in Kansas City screen tenants every day. We know what to look for in a credit report and how to check the national eviction database.
Unqualified tenants can lead to late or unpaid rent, eviction, and property damage. Don’t make the mistake of placing the wrong tenant.
Paying Too Much for Maintenance
Property managers can help you avoid an expensive oversight: deferred and unreported maintenance.
All landlords, to protect the condition and value of their property, will need a plan in place for preventative, emergency, and routine maintenance. Don’t let deferred maintenance become an issue. Make those small repairs immediately, no matter how minor they may seem to you.
Communicate with your tenants the necessity of making maintenance requests right away. You don’t want them to leave something unreported just because they don’t think it’s a big deal.
Property managers can also help keep maintenance costs down by negotiating for the best rates with vendors and contractors we already work with.
Enforce Your Lease Agreement
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.
For example, if there are late fees for rent that isn’t paid on time, make sure you charge them. If the lease agreement says there’s no smoking on the property and your maintenance vendors report that they are making repairs while your tenants are smoking, address the issue with your residents.
The lease contains important information about who is responsible for what at the property. There are expectations and responsibilities clearly spelled out. But, it means nothing if you don’t follow the lease. Make sure you pay attention to it, and make sure your tenants know that they are accountable to it as well. A lot of owners can form relationships with their tenants and are too nice to enforce the lease which can lead to a loss of income or worse, a tenant who takes advantage of the situation and becomes manipulative.
Property managers enforce lease agreements by maintaining a professional, not friendly relationship, collecting rent on time, conducting inspections, and communicating with tenants. There’s no risk that something will be missed.
Fair Housing and Other Rental Laws
You cannot afford oversights when it comes to local, state, and federal rental laws. Making even a simple legal mistake can cost you thousands of dollars.
Landlords who don’t know the fair housing laws are in danger of making huge mistakes when they’re advertising, screening, and even collecting rent and enforcing the lease. You need to know the fair housing laws on a federal, state, and even local level. Otherwise, you could be accused of fair housing violations, and you probably won’t even realize you’ve done something wrong. This is where professional property management can help.
Your property manager knows the law and can keep you in compliance. Fair housing fines are thousands of dollars, and it’s easy to make an error. Rejecting a tenant with an emotional support animal because you don’t allow pets can get you into some expensive trouble, for example.
Beyond fair housing laws, you also need to know the laws that govern habitability, security deposits, and eviction.
Leverage the expertise that local property managers have to avoid these common oversights. If you’d like to talk more about how to protect your investment, please contact us at Key Partners Property Management. We’re your best Kansas City property management resource.