What makes a Good Landlord?

The following is one of the winning essays for the 1998 Wisconsin Apartment Association Scholarship Contest. This one was written by Brian VanderKooy.

Being a good landlord does not mean just making your properties financially successful. It means running properties in a professional and efficient manner. A good landlord must be able to work well with people who are not always agreeable, maintain their property in a suitable condition, and possess good managerial skills.

Being able to deal with people, especially tenants, in a variety of situations is essential as a landlord. This includes not only dealing with tenants that have just moved in and those that pay the rent and take care of their apartment, but also those that do not. A good landlord must be able to deal with problem tenants that are difficult to deal with. The tenants that do not pay the rent or damage the property are one of the landlord's greatest difficulties. The landlord must handle these types of problems in a way which hopefully allows the landlord to get his/her compensation that is due while being careful to avoid infringing on the legal rights of the tenant.

Proper property maintenance is also a key to being a good landlord. Good maintenance practices are beneficial to the landlord in several ways. First, maintenance saves the landlord money by preventing greater maintenance costs later and maintaining property value. Second, a well-maintained property is easier to rent. Third, when tenants see that a landlord is concerned with the property and their living area, the tenants will naturally treat the property better. On the other hand, if tenants see that the landlord does not care about the property and abuses it, then they are more likely to do the same.

Having good managerial skills is necessary to be a good landlord. A landlord is a small business owner and being a small business owner means having many advantages, but with those advantages come added responsibilities. The critical factor between the success and failure of a small business owner is often their managerial skills. A landlord must be a good manager, which means being organized and motivated. Being a good manager includes being able to supervise employees effectively, taking care of problems in a timely fashion, and staying up-to-date on all the legal paperwork that foes with being a landlord today. If the landlord does not take it on themselves to make sure that things get done, the property and tenants will suffer.

Being a landlord is something that many people may shy away from because of all the responsibilities. A landlord cannot always work the hours they choose. There are some late nights preparing an apartment to be rented or fixing a broken appliance. The characteristics listed above such as good management and people skills are not possessed by all people that may want to be landlords. Being a landlord is not for everyone but for those that possess the correct qualities, it can be a very rewarding experience.

Reprinted with permission of the Wisconsin Apartment News, the official publication of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, 702 N High Point Rd, #202, Madison, WI, 53717 [608-824-0024] waa@execpc.com

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