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Tenants and Owners, Prepare Your Home for the Winter

Winter rentals require special attention. Learn which responsibilities belong to who and what your options are as a landlord:

  • Winter Property Management
    • Landlord’s Responsibility vs. Tenant’s Responsibility
  • Hiring a Property Manager vs Being a Landlord
    • The Math of Real Estate Investing
    • Finding Property
    • Finding Tenants
    • Handling Maintenance
    • Being Aware of Interest Rates
  • Is It Worth It?
    • Advantages of Being a Landlord
    • Disadvantages of Being a Landlord

Winter Property Management

Most commonly, you’ll find that property maintenance responsibilities for winter rentals fall upon both the landlord and the tenant. There are a number of different things that must be tended to that will ultimately help to preserve your property’s value in the long run.

As a landlord, you must understand how you should be delegating your winter tasks between yourself and your tenant. Here are a few tips from the pros.

Landlord’s Responsibility vs. Tenant’s Responsibility

It’s important to clearly understand what responsibilities fall upon you as the landlord versus your tenants. In a winter rental, you’ll want to know which duties belong to you so you can be sure to prep your unit accordingly.

Landlords Responsibility

Once you’ve signed a lease agreement, it is just the beginning of your duties as a landlord. To get your winter rental ready for the elements, here are just a few things that will be your responsibility to take care of:

  • Checking the roof and gutters
  • Getting the fireplace ready
  • Pruning dangerous branches
  • Arranging for snow removal

Tenants Responsibility

Thankfully, not all responsibilities will fall upon you. There are some things you can discuss with your tenant that should be their responsibility through the winter months to maintain your property, such as:

  • Clearing walkways and driveway
  • Running the furnace
  • Locating the water shut off valve
  • Leaving the heat on

Hiring a Property Manager vs Being a Landlord

Being a landlord involves everything from screening and selecting tenants to manage the property daily. What if you have an investment property, but you are not interested in being a landlord? 

Fortunately, you can hire a property manager to do the work for you. At the same time, you focus your time, energy, and efforts elsewhere – allowing the property managers to handle the day-to-day aspects of being a landlord.

But, if you’re looking to run everything on your own, make sure you know about the responsibilities that come along with being a landlord.

The Math of Real Estate Investing

If you’re interested in real estate investing, you should first ensure your finances are in order.

Securing Funding

First, it is pertinent that you secure funding before investing. How will you purchase the investment property? If not by cash, then obtain a pre-approval before even searching for investment properties.

Determine Financial Status

Second, use an income calculation spreadsheet to determine if you are financially ready to be a property owner. Include the cost of hiring property managers into this equation if you are not interested in being a landlord.

Start Your Research

Finally, if you have determined that you are financially ready to be a property owner, start searching for the perfect investment property.

Finding Property

Finding the perfect real estate investment property comes down to a science. You want to find a product that isn’t too expensive or too inexpensive either. If you spend outside of your budget, you run the risk of not turning profits on your investment for a very long time. Alternatively, if you purchase a home that is well below your budget, you will likely have to account for the time and money it will take to get it into an adequate rental property.

The process of finding a property is enough to discourage some who might show interest in real estate investing. Thankfully, you can also seek out assistance with finding a property through management companies.

Finding Tenants

Equally as challenging as finding a rental property is finding suitable tenants to rent to. The Internet makes this process more accessible than ever in today’s world, but it can still be time-consuming to vet through all of your qualified candidates.

As a landlord, you always want to take your time in going through applicants for a real estate investment. It is an excellent idea to meet them in person, if able, and conduct background and credit checks.

Remember that the time and effort you put into finding quality tenants initially will pay off in the long run. If you cut corners in this part of the process, you will nearly undoubtedly pay for it later on through late rent payments or even evictions.

Handling Maintenance

Your responsibilities do not stop there once you have found your property and filled it with good tenants. As a landlord, it is also your job to be on top of any maintenance requests submitted by your tenants. Even when the unit is vacant, you’ll need to visit the property to ensure no maintenance is required frequently.

Costs associated with maintenance can stack up rather quickly. Consider the costs of large appliances, a new driveway, or a roof, and you can imagine how expensive it can all be.

Being Aware of Interest Rates

Interest rates are important as a landlord in the home buying process but remain essential when renting your property. When interest rates are low, most people will find it cheaper to buy than rent, which means your rental property could sit vacant for longer than you’d like.

In times of lower interest rates, you should consider dropping your rent prices to stay competitive. While it might seem counterproductive, it will ultimately be a better financial decision than to receive zero income on your rental during that time.

Is It Worth It?

If you’re trying to decide whether you should be a landlord or consider hiring a property management company, first look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of being a landlord.

Advantages of Being a Landlord

Starting with the benefits, here’s a few things you can expect when you manage your real estate investments:

Tax Deduction

Some of the expenses you incur as a landlord you can deduct from your annual taxes. Keep an eye out to see if you’re able to remove any of the following expenses, including:

  • Utility bills
  • Maintenance costs
  • Insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage interest

Additionally, if you have a reasonable expectation of a profit, you may be able to deduct any expenses that exceed your rental income from other sources of income.

Appreciation

It’s important to note that appreciation is not always guaranteed, but historically, it is something to look forward to when investing in real estate.

Regular Monthly Income

Collecting rent less your expenses means earning regular monthly income from your rental property.

Disadvantages of Being a Landlord

It’s equally as important to look at the disadvantages of being a landlord as well, which may include:

Ever-Changing Market Conditions

Even if you conduct the most thorough research possible, the real estate investment industry is constantly changing and without warning. The best you can do is stay on top of any news in your local area.

Taxable Rental Income

Rental income still counts as income and will be considered taxable income for the year. Added income may bump you up in the tax bracket, making all earnings taxed at a higher rate. Make sure you take a look at this aspect before jumping into real estate investing head first.

Responsibilities of Being a Landlord

Being a landlord does not come without its fair share of responsibilities. Thankfully, for those interested in real estate investing from a more hands-off approach, you can consider hiring a property management company to take care of these things on your behalf.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, real estate investing can be an advantageous industry. Even if you do not want to be a landlord, you can still be a property owner and allow property managers to manage you.