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5 Rules Every Landlord Should Live By

I’m pretty confident that if you asked anyone who has ever owned a rental property you would get an overwhelming response that it’s not as lucrative or easy as they thought it would be. In fact, owning a rental property can be a major pain, and end up costing you a ton of money!

I certainly don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer”, and I know that if it’s done right it can be lucrative, but from an insurance agent’s perspective, I don’t see a lot of people doing it right.

So you’re probably thinking, “Well Chris, you are an insurance agent. What do you know about real estate or rental properties? Why should I take advice from you?”

I’m not a real estate agent, and I don’t own a rental property. However, several of my friends/family/clients/co-workers own rentals, and because I insure a bunch of their properties, I’ve had a first hand account of the process, and I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do.

1.) Do your due diligence on the rental property

This is undoubtedly the biggest mistake I see landlords make. They are in such a rush to make money, they don’t pay enough attention to the property. I get it–you want to buy the cheapest property possible so you can turn the biggest profit. The problem with that is, the property is cheap for a reason. It has problems–lots of problems.

Many people buy properties in low income areas, with hopes of re-painting the walls every 5 years and making some rent money. The problem is, that’s the exact type of property that insurance companies don’t want to take a risk on.

Be very careful with the “as-is” property too. Unless you have money to burn, stay away. You are almost always going to spend more money than you think. Most “as-is” properties are either forecloser’s or properties that have been vacant/abandoned.

If you don’t know what to look for in a rental, hire a trusted 3rd party home inspector and make sure everything, and I mean everything checks out. Don’t leave any stone unturned.

Everything must be up to code before you have a tenant in the house. Period. If it’s not, make it up to code.

In particular, you need to make sure the wiring, plumbing, heating, and roof are all “problem-free”, and that they’ve been upgraded or updated within the past 10 years. I’ve seen more problems with those three things than anything else, and you are putting yourself (lawsuit), and your tenant at risk if they aren’t in good working condition.

And whatever you do, make sure there are no mold problems. Don’t just assume there isn’t. You need to test the house, and document it. Mold can kill–literally.

Of course, you may want to walk away from a property because it might be cost-prohibitive to bring everything up to code, and that’s something that only you can decide, but before you buy a rental property and put get a tenant, do your due diligence on the home.

It’s worth the time and effort.

2.) Have written contracts in place

Find a lawyer and pay his/her fee. Trust me it’s worth it. You can’t just tell your tentant, “You break it, you buy it”. You need to have a written rental contract and lease in place.

If at all possible, don’t sign less than a 12 month lease, and make sure your tenant thoroughly understands the terms of the contract. Don’t be lazy and just have them sign it without explaining everything first.

You can save yourself a lot of time, money, and hassle if you do this, and it will show the tenant that you are serious, and that they will be held accountable for the property.

3.) Thoroughly screen your tenants

Rarely have I seen someone screen their tenant(s). Most landlords are so worried about getting someone in the property to pay rent, that they fail to check the people/person out.

At the very least, you need to make sure your tenant is carrying their own renters insurance (HO4 policy). Let the tenant know that your insurance doesn’t cover them whatsoever.

Really what you should be doing is checking their credit and also checking for any criminal activity. These are reports that cost very little up front, and will give you great piece of mind knowing that you have a trustworthy, reliable tenant.

Whether you allow pets and/or smoking is up to you, but I’d be careful with both, because in the end, they could cost you money if you have to repaint, replace carpeting, etc. They could also potentially result in liability exposure with dog bites, and house fires.

4.) Make sure you have rental property insurance

Having the correct type of insurance for your rental property is paramount. The problem is, most people don’t know that they need a certain type of policy.

You can not buy traditional homeowners insurance for a rental property. What you need is called a “Dwelling Fire” policy, or sometimes it’s referred to is a “Landlord” policy.

Keep in mind that the underwriting for rental properties is generally a little tighter, and the coverage isn’t as broad as what you would find in a traditional homeowners policy. As I mentioned before, many people buy properties in low income areas, with hopes of re-painting the walls every 5 years and making some rent money.

The problem is, that’s the exact type of property that insurance companies don’t want to take a risk on.

Still you must buy this type of policy for a rental. Do not buy regular homeowners insurance because it is not designed to insure a non-owner-occupied home, and your claim would almost certainly be denied if you had the wrong policy.

Another thing you need to be aware of, is that most Dwelling Fire/Landlord policies state that if a property is vacant/un-rented for more than 30 consecutive days (with some companies it’s 60 days), coverage can be severely reduced and even eliminated, so make sure if it’s a rental property, don’t let it sit vacant too long.

If you think it will be vacant for more than 30-60 days, you need to let your insurance carrier know that, because that situation would most likely call for a different type of Dwelling Fire policy.

5.) Keep tabs on your rental property

I’ve had people call me for quotes for their rental properties, and when I begin to probe them on the construction information, they know absolutely nothing about the house.

Some people don’t know whether the house is brick, siding, or what it’s made of. They don’t know how old the roof is, or the last time the heating was updated.

Folks, if you own a rental property, you need to know all of these things.

I had someone one time who had purchased a home from a contractor who had flipped it, and hadn’t even seen the house once. He bought it on the word of the contractor, and knew nothing about it except that he wanted to rent it out as soon as possible. That is well, not very smart. You shouldn’t be trying to get insurance on a house you haven’t seen yet.

You need to keep tabs on your property.

Keep records of all repairs, and make sure you physically visit or at least drive by the property every 3-6 months or so to make sure everything is in good working order. Remember, this is an investment. You need to maintain and take care of the property just as if it was your primary residence.

Owning a rental properties can be a lucrative business that can generate a lot of passive income, however, if you don’t abide by these 5 rules, it could end up being a royal pain, and cost you a lot of money in the process.

I had a question about a refund check that wasn’t the amount I had expected, and Dana at the Jason Bentley Agency was definitely the right person with whom to talk! She patiently walked me through the elements of the policy that influenced the refund check, and I want to publicly thank her for helping me out. Thank you, Dana!
Steve Coughlin
Steve Coughlin
Jason and his staff are great. He has been my Go To agent for insurance for over 10 years! Home, many Auto policy’s , and several RV’s through the years. Highly recommend!
Terry Callahan
Terry Callahan
The whole staff is super nice and always ready to help. They get the job done the right way and fast.
Leslie Vice
Leslie Vice
great service by great people.
Mary Decker
Mary Decker
Jason and his team are great to work with. The response I receive is always top notch and very fast.
Jon Korbely
Jon Korbely
They make sure you understand everything about what's going on. the people that work at this location are very friendly
James Ruiz
James Ruiz
I would like to thank the entire Bentley Agency for saving me lots of $$$ on insurance policies. What a delightful surprise for them to take the initiative to check my policies find some savings. Keep up the great work y'all:)Thank you ,The Kosi household
Riaz Kosi
Riaz Kosi
Erica is absolutely fabulous, very efficient and friendly! Thank you
Teresa Durham
Teresa Durham
Jason and his team are wonderful.
Katherine Lucas
Katherine Lucas
Very helpful with all my insurance needs ...Friendly and reliable...
Michael Collins
Michael Collins
Dana helped me a lot in switching my insurance over to my new car and was very professional and got me my paper work in a very timely manner.. Thanks a lot Dana!
Tamara Weaver
Tamara Weaver
From having an accident, to buying another car. His team had always have my back!!
Jason
Jason
Great customer service.
Cheryl McClellan
Cheryl McClellan
Very helpful and responsive to my questions and needs. I would highly recommend this agency to you.
Marvin VonCanon
Marvin VonCanon
Very helpful and responsive to questions and needs!
Lauren Culp
Lauren Culp
I contacted this agency over a holiday weekend and Jason responded quickly! I worked with Dana and was able to get everything I needed very quickly and efficiently!
Haley Bonin-Carter
Haley Bonin-Carter
Very nice people cheap insurance
Kellie Ghent
Kellie Ghent
One of the best things about our experience with this agency is the immediate response we always receive. In addition, the kindness and 'family feel' of being a long time customer makes us feel safe and appreciated.
Bonnie McNay
Bonnie McNay
Quick turn around and responses. Very professional
A Floyd
A Floyd
Darrell Yarborough has always taken care of me and my family, any time I have ever called for information he’s always quick to help me out, always friendly and quick.
Jon Efird
Jon Efird
I have been with Nationwide for many years. Jason Bentley and his staff are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. These people will take care of you and treat you like family.
Angie Bailey
Angie Bailey
Jason is the best! I recommend everyone I know to him!
Jen Mugnano
Jen Mugnano
Dana is fantastic. Knowledgeable, helpful and quick to respond!
Nancy Nesbit
Nancy Nesbit
Save me some$$. Switched from State Farm Insurance. Been with State Farm Insurance for 28 years. Just kept going up on their prices and found it for basically the same coverage for less$. It really pays to compare Insurance coverage no matter how long you've been with a company.
M Honeycutt
M Honeycutt
Dana has absolutely assisted our family for years with insurance issues. This last week she went above and beyond and even after hours to assist again. She is absolutely gold. Give her a raise Mr. Bentley...
John Andrews
John Andrews
We have always had excellent service from this agency because of Dana! We love her and her excellent knowledge that comes from experience. Highly recommend!
Angel Teems
Angel Teems
I am not exaggerating when I say that I am so excited to have Nationwide as my insurance agency! I was a Nationwide customer years ago, and I am happy to be back with such an incredible agency. The agents respond to emails very quickly and always answer the phone when I call the office. I am super happy to partner with such an amazing group of individuals to protect my family, vehicles, and home!
Alex Ventura
Alex Ventura
Jason provides a level of personalized service that is unbeatable. He is easy to work with, quick to respond to questions and is very knowledgeable about the insurance profession. I’ve worked with him on both business, homeowner and auto policies.
Ashley Goodnight Roberts
Ashley Goodnight Roberts
i’ve been with state farm for awhile until nationwide quoted me HALF of what i was paying. dana has taken very good care of me and made everything as easy as possible.
Jordyn Kroger
Jordyn Kroger
CARISSA KISER IS AWESOME- BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE OUT THERE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE AS WELL!
Marcie Pack
Marcie Pack
I have had insurance with the Jason Bentley Agency for a few years. Everyone at the Agency has had exceptional customer service. I have had to make some special requests or have asked crazy questions; 99.9% Carissa gets my call. She is always extremely nice and patient. Carissa makes calling easy and I feel she goes over her duties to make sure I am taken care of. Thank you to the Jason Bentley Agency and Carissa for providing exceptional service and support.
Amber Thomas
Amber Thomas
Jason is the best! Super responsive and easy to work with. I've worked with many different insurance agencies and his customer service is definitely the best. Highly recommend if you are looking for new insurance coverage!
Stacy Melton
Stacy Melton
The Bentley agency has providing me superior service for the last 8 years for auto, home, and life insurance policies. I would recommend them for all your insurance needs.
Riaz Kosi
Riaz Kosi
Jason is awesome!! Always has the best customer service. Would recommend him to anyone
Heather Tilden
Heather Tilden
Always get treated with respect have been going here for years
Luis angeles
Luis angeles
We been in partnership with this agency since 2002. Their customer service is hard to beat! Always responsive and willing to help out at a moments notice.
Suzanne Creed
Suzanne Creed
Excellent, very timely and professional service. Would definitely recommend this agent and office to any and everyone. We got just what we needed for our auto and home insurance. Great job to Jason and his office.
Logan Carl
Logan Carl
Great service! They resolved my issue in one phone call! We would refer them to anyone!
Don White
Don White

(704) 857-9512

1435 N. Main St. China Grove, NC 28023​

(704) 784-3300

646 Church St. N Concord, NC 28025