Whether you’re a seasoned or new landlord, having the right resources lined up ahead of time will make your life a whole lot easier. Stuff will go wrong. Things will break. But having a solid team of professionals to help you out will ensure your long-term success. Here are 5 resources that we believe every Chicago landlord should have:
1. Secure rent collection platform
Technology is a landlord’s friend especially when it comes to collecting rent on-time. Collecting rent through a bank-backed service like Zelle is a better option than using Venmo or PayPal. Zelle deposits money directly into your bank account while Venmo and PayPal act as intermediaries. Tenants can also set up recurring payments through Zelle. If you want to take it a step further, Appfolio is a popular rent collection platform that makes it simple and convenient for your tenants to make secure payments. They offer additional features including tenant screening and accounting.
2. Lawn care and snow removal service
If your tenant is not responsible for their own yard maintenance and snow removal, then you’ll want to have a reliable company lined up. Plowz & Mowz is a website and app where you can find local lawn, landscaping, and snow removal services.
Snow removal is especially important in Chicago or other areas with harsh winters. A tenant or passerby that slips on ice that’s on your property can turn into a major liability. Start searching early for a company because if you wait to find one until after a snowfall, they’re all booked up. Also, make sure you have a service level agreement in place so the company commits to clear your snow promptly. According to Chicago city code, you have to clear your sidewalks by 10am if the snow falls overnight, or 10pm if the snow falls during the day. Read through the guidelines that the city provides to avoid any violations.
3. Buy or sell team
You’ll want to have an agent in your corner if you plan on buying or selling in the future. If you want to buy, let that person know exactly what you’re looking for. When that 3 bed, 2 bath house with a swing on the porch comes on the market, you’ll be the first to know and can jump on the deal. Even if you’re not looking to buy or sell in the near future, real estate agents are often well connected to others in the industry and can offer a wealth of knowledge.
UpNest is a tool that lets you compare real estate agents in your area based on your preferences. You get 3-5 proposals that show the agents’ commission rates and reviews then you can choose to interview your favorite. It’s important to ask an agent some questions before committing to work with that person. Some agents have more experience working with investors/landlords.
If you’re buying – it’s also a good idea to have an insurance person and mortgage broker lined up. You’ll need both of them to go through the traditional closing process on a home. Sure App offers modern insurance for landlords by customizing an offering from multiple providers.
4. A network to connect with other local landlords
There’s always more to learn and the best advice comes from those who have done it before. You can use a platform like Meetup to find local events to connect with Chicago landlords and investors. Facebook groups can also be a great resource. There’s a large Facebook group called “Chicago Real Estate Investors” as well as many others that pop up if you put in that search term. BiggerPockets has forums and networking tools where you can find local landlords, investor-friendly agents, and other service providers. Chicago has a large community of investors and everyone just really wants to help each other. A few of us at Fixer are landlords too, so hey, feel free to reach out!
5. Handyman person or home repair partner
Every landlord needs a reliable maintenance partner. Maybe you’re on vacation when a tenant calls about a leaky toilet. Fixer can coordinate a service appointment directly with your tenant while keeping you informed. Are you buying or selling a home and got an inspection report punch list? We can take care of a variety of tasks in a single visit.
We can handle coordination of work approvals, take photos of damage, and can handle emergencies. Unlike traditional property management, there is no monthly fee. We are always transparent around billing, which means you are only charged for the actual repair and service coordination. You can rest easy knowing your tenants’ maintenance issues are solved promptly and courteously by a skilled handyperson.
What are your favorite landlord resources? We would love to know. Share them with us by tagging @heyfixer on social media.