Lessons For Landlords

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According to the National Association of Realtors, last year Americans bought nearly 2 million homes not to live in, but for investment. Which means many of those homes will become rental properties. Will all the new landlords be ready?

Now that real estate boom has turned to bust, many former speculators are now becoming reluctant landlords. If that’s you, welcome to Kenny Hales’s world.

“I’ve had probably hundreds of loads I use in my truck with my employees and my help of just junk when people bail out. They leave, they move out.”
-Kenny Hale, Landlord

Kenny’s been a landlord for 11 years. He has 38 rentals now, but has had up to 150. Single most important task? Screening tenants.

“I do a credit report, I screen em, I check their background for other evictions and felony convictions. And then I go on the website for the local sheriff’s office just to see if they have a background or any criminal history.”
-Kenny Hale, Landlord

Kenny also uses this website to check out prospective tenants. And there are other websites that can help new landlords with everything from legal forms to emotional support.

Other tips: Ask for a picture ID, so you can sure you’re checking out the person you’re actually renting to. Hold an open house so you can save time by meeting several prospective tenants at one time. And don’t hand over the keys until the rent and deposit checks clear.

And if you haven’t bought that first rental yet, here’s some additional advice from Kenny:

“It’s not as easy as you think. You’ve got to be prepared for a lot of problems. You’ve got to have money: cash reserves to pay anything that comes up cause you’re in charge and you’re responsible.”
-Kenny Hale, Landlord

Bottom line? If you’re gonna be a landlord, focus on two checks. The first, background checks. The second, rent checks.

Stacy Johnson

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