3 Common First-Time Landlord Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

If you've recently decided to dip your toes into residential real estate investment, you're likely looking forward to earning your share of this $27 billion industry. If you're new to the landlord game, however, there are some costly mistakes you could be making as you get started. Whether you're renting out a single-family home or own a large apartment complex, being aware of these common mistakes (and how to avoid them) can help you stay on the path to success.

Not Understanding Your (And Your Tenants') Legal Rights

Each state has its own laws and regulations when it comes to landlords' and tenants' rights. These laws govern everything from evictions and fair housing to property damage and security deposits. If you don't know your rights and the rights of your tenants, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble. For example, being found in violation of the Fair Housing Act could result in crippling fines and penalties. Staying on top of changes in these laws can also be a challenge, so you should expect to spend a fair amount of time educating yourself here.

Tackling Maintenance and Upkeep By Yourself

No matter what kind of residential real estate property you own, there's likely to be a fair amount of maintenance involved. From basic landscaping and upkeep to more extensive repairs, you might think you're saving yourself money by handling these projects yourself. In reality, tackling these tasks by yourself costs you a great deal of time--and in the world of real estate investment, time is money. It might make a lot more financial sense to hire out at least some of these services to a reputable contractor.

Assuming Property Management is Out of Your Budget

Being a landlord can easily be a full-time job by itself. If you're working as a landlord in addition to a regular job or handling other life obligations, you may be spreading yourself too thin and sacrificing your profit margins. To help handle some of the day-to-day work at your rental property, consider hiring a property management company. These professionals can assist with everything from screening tenants and collecting rent to handling maintenance and upkeep. As an added bonus, many property management companies are able to hook you up with discounts on landscaping, appliance repair, and other services to save you money.

Try out a property management service for yourself to see how these professionals can help you avoid common first-time landlord mistakes.