Massachusetts is a very landlord-friendly state, however any new landlord would benefit from some basic advice when starting out. Of course, you’ll want to find good tenants and ensure your property is ready for move-in day, but there’s much to know when becoming a landlord.
Treat Your Rental Property Like Your Business
Renting out a property, whether it’s a house or an entire apartment building, is a business and must be treated as such. Even if it’s not your primary job, if it provides a stream of income, it needs to be taken seriously.
Like with any business, you should put in the effort to keep your paying customers, aka your tenants, happy. Strong communication, clear expectations, and fair prices will all result in happier tenants. In turn tenants pay their rent on time and keep their housing in good condition. You’ll also want to ensure that you properly budget for repairs, keep your tax forms organized, and schedule proper inspections and regular maintenance. It’s a lot of work, but you’ll reap the benefits if you treat it seriously.
Enforce and Follow the Rules
Every place has rules, and your property is no exception. Some of these are official laws that must be followed, while others are more flexible and up to your discretion. However, what’s important is that the rules you put in place are put on paper and discussed with your tenant before they sign the lease and that they are properly enforced once it is.
The general rules of any tenancy tend to be similar for everyone. The tenant pays a set amount of rent at the same time every month, takes care of most minor property repairs out of pocket unless otherwise stated, follows noise ordinances and guest policies, as well as other rules you feel are important for the overall comfort and safety of the building. In exchange they get a great place to live.
You’re not exempt from rules, either, even as the landlord. Massachusetts law states that must provide housing that is safe, clean, and in compliance with the Massachusetts Sanitary Code. You are also required to keep any promises stated in the lease or rental agreement. If your tenancy is based on a lease, you can’t raise the rent until the lease is up. You can forbid pets or require a fee or pet deposit. However you must make accommodations for tenants with Service Animals or Emotional Support Animals.
When creating a lease, it’s vital that you and your tenant understand your rights under Massachusetts law. This will save you both a lot of hardship if issues should arise into the tenancy.
Make It Easy for Tenants to Pay You
You might think it’s easiest to just ask your tenants to hand you a check or cash each month, but electronic payments will make your life so much simpler. Tenants can set up auto-payments so the rent is never late. As a result you’ll have electronic records that will be much easier to manage. While there might be some exceptions, setting up an online rent portal or using an app will save all parties a lot of hassle in the long run. This is especially useful if you don’t live on the property.
Hire a Property Management Company
You may think you can do it all yourself, and maybe you can. But it’s much easier to keep your payments, tax forms, schedules, and maintenance requests in order when you outsource all that work to the professionals. A company like ours can keep your house in order. This frees up valuable time that would otherwise be spent working on several hours worth of paperwork per day.
Remember that being a landlord is a major responsibility, but it’s one you’ll benefit from immensely. Keep your paperwork organized, your tenants happy, and your rules clear, and you could very well end up being Landlord of the Year!