How to pick your next landlord

Full disclosure: I am a landlord. It’s a description I’m not wholly comfortable with because of all the baggage that seems to come along with that term, so oftentimes I use “property manager” as my job description. That’s not 100% correct either, because property managers don’t also tend to be the owners. Perhaps the best way to put it is that I’m an “owner-operator. Why am I writing this? Because I would like nothing more than for people to be able to find “the perfect landlord” for them.

Before choosing your landlord, you should identify your rental style. Do you enjoy personal interaction with top level management, or do you prefer the relative anonymity of a large organization? Do you feel safer with a lot of people nearby, or do you crave space, peace and quiet? Do you like being 10 stories up, or do you need to feel the ground beneath your feet when you step outside your door? All these will start to narrow your choices.

Next, I would strongly suggest checking out individual websites for the properties you are interested in. A few questions to ask yourself while browsing:

  1. How easy is it to figure out what the rent is going to be? Is it a set figure, or are there a ton of “add ins” for bedrooms, amenities, parking, pets and so on?
  2. When you write or call, do you get a quick response? Or if not, is there a reason supplied later? (Keeping in mind, some emails get lost on the way, or dropped into spam folders for reasons only the web fairy seems to understand)
  3. Does management appear to be willing to work with you when the unforeseen comes up?
  4. Does management make you feel at ease both with them and with the property?
  5. How long has this landlord been in business?
  6. Testimonials are a gold mine. Read them! What are people saying about the property and the landlord? Does it sound like a good fit for you?

Once you’ve narrowed your search, arrange for a walk through of the properties you are interested in. Come prepared with questions, if you have any left after reading the FAQ’s on the property website (No FAQ’s page? Then you will have lots of questions, I’m sure.) Hopefully, the person who shows you the property puts you immediately at ease, has all the answers to all your questions, and inspires confidence in the property and the company behind it.

Not every situation is right for everyone. With a bit of advance preparation and understanding of what works best for you, the chances of finding a great place is much improved.  Happy hunting!