LANDLORD OF THE MONTH
Lisa & Steve W.
Landlords Since 1990
Property Type: Residential Homes
Steve and I bought our first home in 1989 a few months after we were married. He had owned rental property when he lived up north, but it was a new venture for me.
Buying our home went ok, so I decided to take a deep breath and start buying rental property with Steve in 1990. He was in business with a guy who was knowledgeable in real estate and who gave us some tips starting out.
Philosophy of the Working Landlord
Eventually, we adopted roles which fit us. That was a challenge. I didn't realize that making a business relationship work involved the same skills as making a marriage work.
Steve is the outside man. He does the maintenance, shows the properties, signs leases with the tenants and takes initial money.
How We Do It
I work at home....putting ads in the paper, screening phone calls, booking appts for Steve, collecting rent, banking it, doing paperwork, and of course, finding time to post on your website.
Since most of the tenants have dealt with Steve face to face (he's a little easier than I am), I can be the "bad cop" to Steve's "good cop" if need be. When they hear from me it's the end of the line! I have learned how to file evictions and how to present a winning case in landlord/tenant court. My knowledge came slowly and through making mistakes. We have never hired a lawyer, but I would recommend doing that for the first eviction.
We know that our relationship with our tenants is governed by our lease, the Florida statutes and local laws.
Our lease is 6 pages long and has evolved over 8 years to it's current state. We tell the tenant everything upfront Steve goes over with the tenant at the signing, every clause that , in our experience, tenants gloss over and violate....like notice is first of the month to first of the month...don't tell us on the 6th that you're moving on the 6th of the next month!
Tenants always want to paint or alter the unit somehow. The need prior permission. It's in the lease and Steve points it out.
Have everything in writing in your lease....which may have to be altered and tailored to your needs as years go by.
Point out important points of the lease at the signing and make sure the tenant initials that s/he has read them.
Make sure the tenant gets a copy of the lease.
Most of our tenants don't read it, unfortunately, before or after they sign. We can only encourage them to do so.
Tips on the Landlord / Tenant Relationship
Never get personally involved with tenants. Keep it a working business relationship.
We do send Christmas cards to our good tenants. It's amazing how they appreciate it!
Do repairs in a timely manor.
If, however, they call in the middle of the night in a panic....calm them down and assess if it's really an emergency. If not, tell them you'll see them in the next few days.
Managing The Rentals...
To check for unauthorized pets......we include in our lease that we spray for bugs every month. The laws don't say that we have to, but that way Steve looks in cupboards and closets for signs of pets. Tenants are REALLY good at the pet itself, but they can't always hide the food or dish or litterbox successfully, at least not every month.
Legal Tips and Words of Wisdom:
I can't stress enough how important it is to get a copy of the L/T statutes for your
A judge will adhere to them in court, and the landlord better have a working knowledge of them....better yet...have abided by them. Most tenants don't know the laws, we've noticed. They lose in court because of this.
Well, that's all I think of right now. I'm off to the courthouse! Oh Joy....not!
The LPA would like to thank Lisa and Steve for their valuable input and sharing of knowledge with us. Landlords everywhere have the opportunity to benefit from the lessons and knowledge brought to us by our Landlords of the Month.