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Landlord of the Month, Herman C., New York

Herman C.

Landlord Since 2004
State: New York
Property Type: Multi family residential homes

Here's my story: I worked in a food distribution warehouse for 13 long years. I got burned out and decided to try something else. I saw a late night commercial about a local business who specializes in helping new investors through the home buying process with no money down. I called them and had a meeting the next week. Soon I was looking at apartment buildings to purchase. In february I bought my 1st one... a 3 unit building in a nice neighborhood for $68k. I did a bunch of work to the 2 unoccupied units and had them rented within a couple weeks. Now it's basically self supporting. I have to mow the lawn every week or so and had to fix a leak in a sink drain.

A month later I bought a 2nd property. It is a large 2 unit building. One unit was unoccupied so fixed it up nice and rented it out within a week. It now gives me positive cash flow every month like my 1st property does! I'm currently looking for more properties like these.

Philosophy of the Working Landlord

I find that if I treat my tenants with respect they treat me the same way. All tenants have my cell phone number so they can contact me directly with any problems. They rarely call but when they do I'm there the same day or the following day to repair any problems. I care about my properties and don't want them to become rundown. I have learned the hard way not to offer too much in the way of improvements to entice a prospective tenant into renting.

How I Do It

I have the tenants mail the rent to me at my PO box. This way they do not know where I live if there are ever any problems in the future. If the rent isn't postmarked by the 3rd day of the month then it's considered late and they must pay a $25 late fee. So far no late rents!

The Lease...

I started off using the LPA lease as it was but I got many complaints about it being to rigid and onesided. I then tailored it to my needs and have had no problems since the changes. I do not do credit checks or collect an application fee.

Tips on the Landlord / Tenant Relationship

I try to keep them happy even if it means going slightly above and beyond what the normal landlord would do. One tenant didn't like the colors of the apartment (neither did I!) and asked if she could paint it. I bought all the materials and took $200 off her next months rent in exchange for her and her family doing all the work. It came out great and everyone was happy. Another tenant asked for a new sink because the current one was pretty old and not very appealing. I bought and installed the vanity and sink myself. Now the tenant is happy, I have a nicer apartment unit that will re-rent easier in the future and my building is worth a little more should I decide to ever sell it.

Managing The Rentals...

Rent collection is done by mail so it's a nobrainer. I would really like to see the LPA management software finished so the management process would be easier.

Legal Tips and Words of Wisdom:

Get an inspection before buying a rental property! I know it's common sense but not everyone does it. Use the LPA forms but don't be afraid to tailor them to your and your tenants needs.

Always remember when you rented an apartment for yourself... you can then put yourself in their shoes and understand where they are coming from.

The LPA would like to thank Herman for his valuable input and sharing of knowledge with us. He is on the right track and is working hard at running an efficient landlord business, despite only being a landlord for a relatively short time. Landlords everywhere have the opportunity to benefit from the lessons and knowledge brought to us by our Landlords of the Month.

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