The four jobs of a tenant
Rental property that produces a positive cash flow is the Alpha and Omega of real estate investing. To have positive cash flow, you need to have a tenant that pays well. But is that all that you need them to do? The Answer is an emphatic “No”.
When we lease up a tenant, we tell them that we’re hiring them for four jobs.
Think about that concept for a minute – hiring a tenant, I mean.
When you hire someone, they do a service for you in exchange for some sort of pay. Today, people are accustomed to US Currency, but once upon a time people worked for room and board.
When you rent out your house, you’re bartering with your tenant. They do the four prescribed jobs and get paid a nice place to live. Doesn’t that sound like you hired them?
If you let that sink in, it can change the way you do business with your tenants forever.
So what are the four jobs?
1.Take care of and maintain the property.
Simply put, you should expect your tenants to take care of the house. By setting a good standard up front, you’ll do away with the concept of “normal wear and tear’. I’ve never understood that expression. You don’t wear a house and you don’t want anyone tearing anything up. How is that normal?
Instead, present them with a house in good condition. Then explain how you expect them to keep it that way. By doing this, you’ll get the house back in good condition… free of wear and tear.
2.Pay on time.
Notice this job came after taking care of the house. We had a couple who got behind this month. When I showed up to meet face to face with them, the house looked great. It was clean, smelled nice, and they had even done some repairs. We’re willing to work with tenants like that. Paying on time is important, but it costs more if someone hurts your house than if they pay late.
3.Be a good neighbor.
As a landlord, this is partially important to you. You’ll have neighbors longer than you’ll have tenants. You’re going to want them to like you – plus they can be extra eyes and ears for you. Require your tenants to be good neighbors. Good Neighbors make good neighborhoods. Good neighborhoods are where people stay for a long time.
4.Be good to work with.
Setting a tenant up for success in this job means asking them to stay in touch with you. Your tenants run into issues from time to time. A call before-hand is better than a rent check bouncing with no explanation. Let them know you’ll be just as good to them as they are to you.
We recently had another set of tenants who were paying on time. I went by to do a surprise inspection, and boy were we surprised. There were six, count em six, four legged pets IN the house. There was household trash piled on the front porch, and the grass was almost knee high. The neighbor complained that the pets were a nuisance.
Pocket math says they were not doing three out of the four jobs.
Though they had paid on time, they weren’t taking care of the house, being good neighbors or being good to work with. It was time to hire someone new.
When you hire your tenants to do the four jobs it eliminates any confusion. Both you and they will know what to expect. If they do the four jobs, they get paid with a great house. If they don’t do them, you need to terminate the relationship and hire someone who will.
Joe and Ashley English invest in real estate in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com
Nice column, Joe. Very well written.