Being a landlord can take a big toll on your time. A tenant might call at any hour to report a problem. Sometimes, tenants expect instant repairs, even when the issue will take time to resolve. Creating a balance between your tenants' needs and rights and your own needs can be challenging. You don't want a major leak to cause thousands of dollars in property damage, but you also don't want to field calls about a dripping faucet at 3 a.m. Here are five tips to help you create a work/life balance suitable for a landlord.
1. Have Office Hours
For most complaints, normal business hours is enough. Make sure to have posted hours during which tenants can always reach someone. This allows you to handle repair requests and issues without cutting into your family and friend time.
2. Put Policies in Place
You can avoid a lot of hassle and complaints by simply having a tenant policy. In your policy, you can include information about payments, due dates, repair request procedures, responsibilities, and more. The more comprehensive your policy document, the less likely you are to receive random requests. You should make requirements for rent very clear so that extensions do not become a regular request from tenants. Online payments help to streamline the process. Paired with a clear and automatic late fee, this should help cut down on the need for court filings for missed payments and evictions.
3. Never Provide Your Cell Number
Google Voice and other call forwarding services allow you to give tenants a contact number without giving them your mobile. They need to be able to contact you, but you don't want to deal with non-emergencies during family dinners or celebrations. A number that forwards calls depending on the setting can be invaluable for protecting your time.
4. Consider an Answering Service
An answering service allows tenants to always talk to a person and leave a message. If the situation is truly an emergency, your answering service can contact you. This lets you have every call vetted, without personal oversight. The less time you spend answering calls, the more time you have to enjoy an evening out. Plus, with an answering service, you know you will never miss a real emergency call. If a water main breaks or there is a fire or other emergency, you hear about it almost instantly. You can minimize property damage while maximizing your off hours.
5. Have a Handyman on Call
For those times when you're on vacation, you still need someone available to handle repairs. You can either leave a contact number and spend some of your vacation lining up visits from a service person, or you can find a handyman and discuss budget limits before your go. If you have someone on tap to provide emergency assistance, you can avoid the need to be available when on vacation.
Ultimately, communication between you and your tenants is one of the best ways to preserve your work/life balance. If they know you are going on vacation, they are less likely to bother you with something that can wait. Of course, it's always best to schedule trips in the middle of the month to avoid missing any rental payments. This way, you can go on holiday without worrying about missing a check or possible court date.
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