Remote Rental Properties Made Easy

Managing a rental property remotely may feel like a scary proposition. In reality, you just need to make the right decisions along the way and you can truly enjoy passive income. Here’s what you need to know.

Having a remote rental doesn’t need to be any more complicated than having rentals close by. However, it does take a little more planning and setup on your end as a landlord. After all, you can’t just swing by when the faucet leaks or the water heater goes out.

When it comes to remote rentals, you need to get the right people, technologies, and systems in place. Once you’ve got it all together, you’ll have a fine-tuned machine that you can repeat in that market or in emerging locations. Follow these tips to get started on your path towards remote rental management.

Find the right property manager and other rental team members

Having an on-site property manager is highly recommended for remote landlords. It’s important to do your homework and pick the best candidate for your needs. You’ll want to do a thorough review of your prospective property manager and cover the following topics:

Certifications, qualifications, and experience as a property manager

Be sure you’re getting a property manager who has experience in your type of rental. An otherwise adept property manager of large, multifamily apartments may not be right for your single-family rental. Ideally you’ll want to check references and speak to a client or two so you have confidence in the property manager’s abilities.

Time, effort, and main point of contact for your property or properties

How hands-on or hands-off will the manager be? How much time will they be spending on your property? If it’s a property management group, will you have one main contact or just deal with whoever answers the phone? Get a firm idea of how much of a priority your rental or rentals will be.

What’s included in the fee—and exactly how much is it?

Be sure to get a detailed breakdown of the services that are included and exactly how much they’ll cost. Are there extra fees for things such as finding a new tenant or lease renewal and what are they? How are you charged when the property manager handles an unexpected repair or has to evict someone, etc.? What’s the process (and cost) if you decide to end the relationship?

Details about filling a vacancy and the tenant screening process

A good property manager is important, and so are good tenants. Get details about your property manager’s role in filling a rental vacancy. This includes how they’ll market the property to potential renters. Also ask about the ins-and-outs of the property manager’s role in the screening process along with what say you’ll have, if any.

You’ll want to make sure the property manager follows all laws regarding choosing a tenant. And you’ll want to review the lease they’ll be using. Make sure details on security deposits (including where the money will be held) are ironed out.

Communication style

Get granular about how long it’ll take for you to reach your property manager when you need to and how quickly they’ll work to resolve a tenant issue. You’ll want to feel out the softer issues of communication style too. Do you want someone with a brash and go-get-em personality or do you prefer someone a bit more low-key? Since this person will be your representative to your tenants, make sure you’re comfortable with the way they communicate too.

If you choose to act as your own remote property manager, then you’ll need to have a vetted list of local people in your phone ready for speed-dial. Of course, this includes a team of people such as:

  • Locksmiths
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Licensed general contractors
  • Landscapers

You may also want to enlist someone you know to drive by the unit from time to time for a visual check-in. Using technology may help this process go more smoothly.

Use technology to your advantage

Technology is the remote landlord’s friend. There is a lot of helpful technology for landlords available today. Among the most helpful technologies to take advantage of include the following:

Virtual tours

A renter may want to do an in-person walk through before signing on the dotted line. Before then, you’ll likely be able to weed out those not interested by showing the physical details and layout of a rental via an online virtual walkthrough. When you only interact with only truly interested renters, you’ll save time and money.

Digital lockboxes

A digital lockbox can be helpful if a property manager or real estate agent is showing your home for prospective tenants or for short-term rental check-ins. With digital lockboxes, a code gives access to a secure box at the door that opens to reveal a key, or that reads a signal from a Bluetooth or WiFi device. Smart locks work with a code programmed to allow access to the home.

One-click handyman service providers

Websites such as Thumbtack use technology to help landlords quickly get the support person they need, from a plumber to an electrician. Or use peer-to-peer neighborhood sites such as Nextdoor or Facebook groups for local recommendations.

Digital rental applications and rental management services

Start by having prospective tenants fill out an application online or using an app. Keep the technology going by accepting deposits, signing leases, and submitting monthly rent using online portals and mobile apps. Options include landlord-specific apps such as PayYourRent or money transfer options such as Venmo. Some mobile apps allow tenants to put in maintenance requests. Landlord management sites pull everything from listings to applications to collecting rent in a single portal. Some of these sites charge fees.

Put systems in place

Having systems in place for your remote rental can be a boon for both landlord and tenant alike. Everything from a designated property manager to an online rent payment system makes life easier.

It’s always better when everyone knows what to expect, such as how to request maintenance and how those requests will be handled. And offering things such as online rental payment means both parties can do their duties with ease.

Find remote rental properties to manage…remotely

Sundae’sMarketplace offers the ability to virtually visit for-sale properties by looking through photos, 3D tours, inspection reports and other property details in over 20 locations (and counting) all across the U.S. On the marketplace, you’ll have access to properties that aren’t listed on the MLS or anywhere else. Grow your real estate investment business by investing in new (to you) real estate markets.

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Erin B

Erin Behan is a writer and editor covering real estate investor strategy for Sundae. She's lived in L.A., New York, and Atlanta and currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where she writes and edits for a number of outlets, including WebMD, Farmers Insurance, and Vox Creative. She spends her free time hiking with her two boys, snuggling with her cat, and enjoying the best of the Pacific Northwest.