"Hard-nosed" lanlording can have negative connotations, but what does it really mean? It is what YOU make of it. Landlord tenant relationships can be difficult or easy – it is totally up to you, the landlord. One way to make it easy on yourself is to set expectations up front, and to ensure that your tenants understand and follow them. Some call it "hard-nosed" landlording, but to me it is common sense property management, and money in my pocket.
I personally manage my own single family homes and condos within a 400 mile radius. Yes, you heard it right – within a 400-mile radius! I live in Orange County (Southern California), and manage my own properties as far east as Phoenix, Arizona.
Because of my "hard-nosed" landlording techniques I rarely have trouble with my tenants, and many times I don't hear from them for years at a time. I also don't necessarily trust other property managers to screen my tenants as thoroughly as I do, since nobody has more at stake than I do when it comes to selecting the right tenants.
So what does "hard-nosed" landlording entail?
First, I thoroughly screen the prospective renters' applications and call them on any discrepancies I encounter, so they know right up front there's no messing around. I explain how to screen tenant applications in a separate article, called " Tenant Screening – Don't Let Them Lie To You ". If I find even one little discrepancy, I will grill the prospective tenants until I am satisfied that the item in question has been explained to my satisfaction.
Second, I give the renters a small monthly discount on their rents, as stated in the lease, in exchange for mailing or depositing the rents before the 1st of each month, and for taking care of minor maintenance issues. The tenants first obtain my permission, then purchase what's needed and perform the repairs. The receipt is mailed to me, and the amount renters spent is taken out of the next month's rent. I don't allow the tenants do any major work on the property – we don't want to cross into the employer / employee territory, especially if the tenants get hurt on the property while doing repairs. However, I do tell them up front that if they do NOT report major maintenance problems as soon as problems are discovered – I will hold the tenants responsible for any damage caused to the property.
Third, late fees start accruing on the 2nd of each month, and the eviction paperwork ( 3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate ) is served on the 3rd. After someone is served once, I usually start receiving direct deposits and / or the rent checks early.
On a side note, the monthly rent discount has to be paid back the month the tenants are either late with their rents, or when they call me for silly maintenance issues. And did I mention you can always bump the rents up a little, before offering a discount?
So what is "hard-nosed" landlording? It is all parties understanding exactly what is expected of them. It is tenants knowing that paying rents on time is their highest priority, and not having to go through the monthly "ritual" of explaining why rents will be late, while the landlord serves them with the "3-Day Notice To Quit". And, "hard-nosed" landlording is peace and quiet for the landlord, knowing that the rents will be paid on time, and that the property will be properly taken care.