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As a current or prospective landlord, you probably think you’ve got everything figured out. The truth is that rental real estate can throw you some curve balls, and the best way to stay ahead of the pitcher is by arming yourself with some knowledge. Check out the following four tips to help get yourself on the path to the landlord hall of fame.

Keep Expectations Reasonable

As a landlord, positive cash flow is clearly one of your goals. However, if you overspend, you’ll end up having to raise your rent, and this could cause you to lose good tenants. Keep your expectations realistic at all times so you can avoid that particular trap.

Find Your Balance

You’ll need to balance your effort and your earnings. Are you good at being a hands-on landlord or do you need to hire a property management company? While a management firm will take a part of your rental proceeds, it may be an avenue worth checking into if you’re struggling to balance your personal and other work life with your duties as a landlord.

Know and Follow All Rules

Landlords are subject to local, state and federal laws, and you’re expected to know and follow all of them. Claiming you didn’t know any better when something goes wrong won’t wash in court, so be prepared to put some time into learning any laws that apply to your rental real estate, and keep up on the news so you’re always on top of any changes. Being informed about the laws that affect you also applies to your leases. If your leases aren’t completely legal, you’ll have a hard time enforcing the agreements if the need ever arises.

“I” is for Inspection

Inspections come up in a landlord’s world in more than way one. You’ll need a proper inspection before you buy a rental property, and you’ll probably want one carried out before you try to sell in order to avoid any surprises.

When new tenants move in, do a walk-through inspection with them. When they move out, do a move-out inspection so you’re aware of any damage that they have caused to your property.

Finally, periodic inspections can help you spot any potential tenant troubles before the situation gets out of hand. Be aware that many states have laws regarding when you can enter a tenant’s unit, so be sure to follow any laws related to that area.

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