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5 Common Income Property Landlord Mistakes

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It is simply amazing to me that people are willing to take shortcuts with tenants.  The harsh reality is that the quality of your tenants will dictate the quality of your rental property investing experience.  With great tenants, you’ll wonder why everyone isn’t buying rental property, and with poor tenants you’ll want to jump off the nearest bridge. 

With that in mind, here is a list of some of the most common and problematic landlord mistakes I can think of:

  1. Failing to properly screen tenants.  The screening process is so inexpensive and easy that there is simply no excuse for not doing it.  While there are never any guarantees, at least a good tenant screen will shed some light on credit worthiness, eviction history, and criminal activity.  Without it, you’ll have no idea what you’re getting into.
  2. Settling for less than acceptable tenants to quickly fill a vacancy.  Although tempting, this is not a good long-term strategy.  You are usually better off lowering the rent to accelerate the search than lowering your acceptable criteria.
  3. Paying the tenant’s heat.  I witnessed how bad of an idea this really is when I bought my first income property, a triplex.  The heat was centralized so I had to pay it.  One bitter cold day I had to go into one of the units to fix something, and discovered the heat cranked to about 90 and the windows open!  Tenants tend to consume more utilities when they are not responsible for paying the bill.
  4. Giving tenants the benefit of the doubt.  I hate to say it, but you cannot trust anything a tenant says.  Well, at least 80% of it, so for that reason you must always approach tenant relations with a skeptical view.
  5. Not charging and enforcing late fees.  Late fees are in place for a reason – to deter undesirable behavior like paying late.  Landlords who do not enforce late fees are usually the lowest priority for people paying late bills.

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