It’s OK to Manage Your Own Rental Property

November 29, 2011 | | Articles | No Comments

Many people feel that they are perfectly capable of managing their San Diego rental property and opt to do so rather than hire a professional manager.  The fact is many of them are right. Here are a few points to ponder to help assess your inclination to self-manage your rental property.

Do you have the right temperament?

The moment you decide to rent out your property, you’ve started a business.  It’s best to realize this from the beginning.  Attention to detail and meticulous record keeping are essential skills.  Also, try to put aside any emotional attachment to the property.  It might be the house you grew up in but now it’s a business asset.

If you are easily exasperated by the actions of others, think twice about self-managing.

Tenants won’t take care of it like you would.  Some tenants can also be difficult. You need to be comfortable with confrontation and have the ability and inclination to be firm when enforcing the rules.

Do you have the time?

Managing one house will probably take about 10 hours per month.  That number goes up, of course, if you do your own maintenance.  The process of finding a tenant, marketing, showing, screening, move-in, and signing, can take upwards of twenty hours.

Be ready and willing to be interrupted with maintenance calls.  Some tenants are great at doing minor fixes.  Some are helpless.

Do you have sufficient knowledge of the legal aspects of property management?

You can start the education process by getting a copy of the State of California, Department of Consumer Affairs publication A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities.[1]

Pay close attention to the issues concerning habitability and security deposits.  Those are common areas of dispute between tenants and landlords.  In addition to state and federal laws pertaining to your property, local rent control ordinances may further restrict your rights as a landlord.

A common mistake made by landlords is the selection of their rental forms. Many generic forms purchased online or in retail stores do not have the required disclosures.  Membership in the local Apartment Association can be worth the time and investment just for the forms.

Another common mistake is not thoroughly documenting the condition of the unit at move-in.  We suggest a complete written report and a set of photos.  A typical two-bedroom unit should have about 60 photos taken at every new move-in.

You also need a resource for checking credit.  Never accept a credit report provided by the prospective tenant!

Do you have professional service providers to help keep the property maintained?

It’s very possible that you can get something fixed cheaper than a property manager can.  One reason for this is that a good property manager will not risk sending an uninsured service provider to you property.

If any of your current vendors do not carry liability insurance, you are taking a big risk. A network of quality maintenance people is absolutely essential to keep you property maintained.  If you are handy, and have the time, you have a significant advantage.

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