Don't Fear Your Investment—Conquer It!
The Jacksonville area is a great one for potential real-estate investors: the Jacksonville metro area has grown by about 20% in the past decade, and the region continues to see growth each year of about 2%. Job growth is predicted to be strong in the years to come. If you’ve found that you’re interested in getting into real-estate investment—or if you’ve become a landlord unexpectedly—you’ve made a sound investment decision.
Your first few months as a landlord can be challenging or even a little frightening; you might have seen other landlords who seem to have things handled with confidence and wonder "How?" They were once in your shoes, and much of that confidence has been hard-earned! Here are a few things to consider to bring that kind of confidence into your own investment property.
Keep Your Lease Ironclad
As a new landlord, you’re probably chiefly concerned with the trouble that difficult tenants can bring into the picture. Maintenance issues can be fairly predictable as long as you get to know your property and are thorough with inspections and necessary preventative work; you can also research your local housing market and follow trends to learn more about your target markets and realistic rents. The challenge often comes from unpredictable human factors. Your first and best tool to mitigate potentially difficult tenants is to write an ironclad lease.
Your lease is a contract that establishes a standard set of expectations between you and your renters. You can use the document to set down rules and identify penalties for tenants who break them. Your lease is the cornerstone of your experience as a landlord; if you leave it vague, you’ll eventually find a tenant who pushes for any possible loophole. Identify the things that you find non-negotiable and spell them out in this document—establishing a clear understanding with your tenants before handing over the keys is a cornerstone to your success as a landlord.
Tools for Building an Airtight Lease
1. Get Legal Advice
Your lease is a legal contract: in a worst case scenario, it can be the basis of a legal proceeding against a tenant. It’s essential to ensure that anything you put into it will hold up if it needs to do so. Consult a lawyer who is well versed in Florida and Jacksonville real estate and rental law. You may need to pay a little bit up front—but if you do need to fall back on your lease in court, this will save you money in the long run.
2. Customize Your Lease
It can be tempting to rely on a “one-size-fits-all” template that you’ve sourced from a website somewhere—especially if the thought of sitting down and writing something from scratch seems a little daunting. However, this sort of lease will be non-specific and may contain provisions that aren’t supported by local law. If you’ve already sought legal counsel, do the work up front and write a lease that will hold up in the Jacksonville area. You may also have some concerns that are specific to your property or local situation; the lease is your chance to address them.
3. Be Concise with Your Terms
Directly spell out the terms of your lease; be direct about the things that you want your tenants to do or avoid doing. Address issues such as:
- Pet policy
- Rent payment expectations
- Length of time that non-tenant guests can stay
- How the security deposit will be retained and used
Again, be specific to the Jacksonville area—Florida law has some particular requirements concerning this issue.
Look for Eviction Protection
If you’re a new landlord, you’re probably worried about some of the worst-case scenarios you may encounter; the possibility of having to evict a tenant is probably looming large for you if this is the case. One thing that you can do to bring yourself some peace of mind is to find an eviction protection program. Eviction protection services are offered by property managers who generally charge a nominal fee per month in exchange for the promise of covering some—or all—of the unexpected costs that can come with pursuing an eviction action against a tenant. As a landlord-partner, you pay a small fee every month to guard against the possibility of having to pay a more substantial cost in the future. These programs can be a massive benefit to your peace of mind and can help you to budget for the unexpected.
Find a Rental Guarantee Program
Similar to eviction protection programs, “Rental Guarantee” or “Tenant Placement” programs are generally offered by property management companies who promise to place a qualified tenant in your property or cover the rent that would be paid by such a tenant in exchange for a small fee increase. As with eviction protection, this type of program allows you to rest easy and know that you will always find qualified tenants for your property in the long term and won’t lose out on income if you go a few days or weeks without one. You can’t put a price on peace of mind, and this sort of program allows you to be sure of a steady income stream.
Hire a Local, Jacksonville Property Manager
Green River Property Management offers both a Tenant Placement Guarantee and an Eviction Protection Plan with either our Full Service or Executive Service tier pricing plans. These plans also give you access to a wide range of other services that help our landlord-partners to go forth to invest in confidence such as:
- 24/7 maintenance
- Professional marketing
- Tenant placement
- Ongoing rent collection.
Whether by phone, online or in person, Green River Property Management is here to help you to build your confidence as a new landlord. With an expert Jacksonville property manager, your investment is in good hands. Contact us today, and let's work together to bring you the peace of mind you deserve!