Being an out-of-town landlord presents a unique set of challenges.
Not only do you have to handle typical landlord tasks like performing inspections, responding to emergencies, and screening tenants properly – you have to do it all without the ability to easily travel to your property as needed.
But don’t let that stop you from investing in out-of-town properties.
By following our Baltimore property management team’s tips for out-of-town landlords, you can ensure that you see a positive return on your investment and avoid becoming stressed due to the distance between you and your properties.
How to Succeed as an Out-of-Town Landlord
1. Take extra care to choose tenants you can trust
Regardless of where you live in relation to your properties, it’s important for you to use a thorough screening process with all of your tenants to reduce your chances of renting to a bad tenant.
Troublesome tenants are one of the main sources of stress when you’re an out-of-town landlord. Your tenants may know that you don’t live close by and you cannot travel to check on your property at any time and may take advantage of your absence by damaging the property, bending the rules, or even neglecting to pay rent on time!
For this reason, avoid skipping any step in the screening process or renting to a tenant simply because you like them – no exceptions. Remember, it’s always better for you to wait and rent to a good tenant that you can trust than to quickly place a questionable tenant in your property.
For added peace of mind, you may even want to rent your long-distance properties exclusively to trustworthy family members or referred tenants.
Tip: Check out this blog post to learn about 9 red flags you should watch out for when screening potential tenants.
Just because you don’t live in the same area as your tenants doesn’t mean that you can avoid communicating with them regularly. In fact, doing so could cause strained relations between you and your tenants.
So, figure out which communication methods they prefer and occasionally check in with them. You’ll also want to provide them with local emergency contacts they can call if they need immediate assistance.
Tip: Check out this blog post to learn how you can build healthy tenant/landlord relationships.
3. Have someone local check on your properties for you.
Think for a second – do you have trustworthy family members or friends living near your property?
If so, ask them if they would be willing to check in on your property for you as needed. Also, see if they are able to serve as an emergency contact for your tenants. That way, your tenants will feel secure in your property knowing that help is nearby if needed.
But what if you don’t have family or friends living near your property?
Don’t worry – you can still be a successful out-of-town landlord. Start networking in the area where your property is located by attending local real estate and landlord events. You should be able to find a trustworthy professional who will check on your property for you on occasion.
4. Make time to visit your property regularly.
While traveling to your property a couple of times per year might seem inconvenient, it’s absolutely necessary. But look on the bright side: your business-related travel expenses are tax deductible!
When you visit, you’ll be able to get a firsthand look at the condition of the property instead of relying on others to relay the information to you.
You may even want to perform an inspection each time you travel to your out-of-town property. If you do, just make sure you give your tenants the proper amount of notice ahead of time so you don’t get into any legal trouble.
5. Set up an online payment system
Do you really want to drive to your property to collect checks or deal with the hassle of waiting to receive payments in the mail?
Probably not, considering how inconvenient that would be. That’s why it’s a great idea to collect all payments online when you’re an out-of-town landlord.
If possible, set up a tenant payment portal and let your tenants know that they should log in and pay each month on or before the specified rent due date. Alternatively, you can collect payment via an online transfer system like PayPal.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you mention it in your lease terms and clearly explain your expectations to all of your tenants. After all, chasing down rent money is even more stressful than usual when you’re trying to do it from out of town.
6. Find good maintenance services near your property.
Your out-of-town property is going to need maintenance at some point. Prepare for this by finding capable handymen, plumbers, and electricians that you can contact to handle problems at your property.
Here are a few things you’ll want to consider when choosing maintenance help:
- How far do they live from my property?
- Do they have experience handling the problems that are likely to occur with my property?
- Are they willing to handle emergency maintenance requests?
- Do they have positive online reviews?
- Are they willing to provide references from past landlords?
As an out-of-town landlord, make sure you only choose maintenance personnel who you feel are exceptionally reliable. Otherwise, they may end up adding to your stress instead of alleviating it.
7. Hire a local Baltimore property manager.
Being a landlord is a demanding job – even more so when you have to manage your properties from afar. If you find that property management tasks are stressing you out and taking up too much of your time, consider hiring a Baltimore property management team like Bay Management Group.
We can handle all of your local properties so you don’t have to – that way, you get the biggest return on your rental property investments without dealing with the hassle of managing them yourself.
With our team on your side, you won’t need to screen tenants, handle maintenance, collect rent, or perform inspections. We’ll take care of it all for you so you can focus on enjoying your time outside of work and making the most of your rental property business.
If you’re interested, we’d love to talk about how we can help. Contact us today!
Written by: Patrick Freeze