As a landlord, you will access lots of personal and confidential information about your and prospective tenants. Highly sensitive information such as photo IDs, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and background checks will be available to you. One of your duties as a landlord is to ensure that this private information is kept secure and out of the reach of prying eyes and criminals.
Protecting tenants’ private information involves physical and digital safeguards. Increasingly, most transactions and documents are in a digital medium, but that does not mean you can skimp on physical security measures.
Intelligent doorbells and smart locks are high-tech ways to secure access to your office. Smart locks can alert you on your phone if someone tampers with your lock, while intelligent doorbells alert you if someone rings the doorbell. The mere presence of security cameras inside and outside the office will deter thieves. For even more security, consider getting a 24-hour monitoring service through a company.
If you accept checks and money orders for payments, consider getting a lock box on your office door with a letter slot on the outside. This will let tenants drop off checks while preventing a would-be thief from simply prying a drop box from a wall.
Physical records such as leases, security deposits, and bank account numbers can be kept in a safe for maximum security. There is also an option of securing sensitive files and information in a safety deposit box at a bank or other off-site location. You should also shred any unnecessary files containing personal information that you no longer need. If you handle lots of paperwork, you can outsource the shredding to a document shredding company that will pick up and shred the files for you.
Steps to take for digital security include securing your internet connection. Make sure the Wi-fi you use is password protected, and consider using a VPN for maximum privacy and security. Two-step authentication when accessing emails and software programs is a great way to prevent unauthorized access to your tenants’ data. Even if a password is stolen, the two-factor authentication system will prevent the thief from being able to access sensitive information.
Accepting payment via a credit card may sound appealing and convenient, but it poses a security risk. It is best to accept payments through encrypted networks like PayPal and direct bank transfers if you can.
Your work computers, laptops, and smartphones will likely store a plethora of tenant data. If they get stolen, that could mean trouble for you and your tenants. Consider installing a software program such as Absolute that will let you track the location, block access, and delete the contents of any stolen computers remotely.
Filing your income taxes as a rental property owner is a little different from filing as an individual. You essentially own a small business, and your taxes will be higher for that reason. Fortunately, there are a few different ways you can reduce what you’ll have to pay to the IRS.
Start With Deductions for Property Repairs
You can start to get more out of your taxes by remembering to deduct your repair costs. If you have paid out more than $600 in a 12-month period for professional repair services, you can deduct those expenses on your income tax form. Be sure to keep receipts in case you’re asked to verify your repair expenses.
Don’t Forget Your Home Office
It pays off to use a room in your own home to manage your rental property. As long as you use this room solely for this purpose, you can deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage as a business expense. Be sure your home office is not used for recreation or other purposes, or you may be disqualified from using this deduction.
Add More Revenue Sources
You can increase your income potential by adding amenities and services to your rental property. Consider investing in coin-operated laundry machines, snack and beverage vending machines, and other money-making opportunities. You can also offer services, such as landscaping services, to your tenants. Charge a few dollars over the fee charged by the landscaping service to help you make these services more profitable for you.
Use Schedule-C to Your Advantage
When you file a schedule-C form for your taxes, you can make even more deductions. Under this tax filing method, you can deduct expenses associated with any tasks you perform in the management of your property. For example, you can deduct the gas and mileage used to deposit rental income or to drive to your rental property. You’re also allowed deductions for time spent hanging rental vacancy signs, buying supplies for the property, and performing similar tasks.
If you’re unsure about the deductions and incentives that are available to you, talk to an accountant or tax attorney. A professional can help you prepare your taxes correctly. Additionally, they may know of new tax breaks that are available to you since they will keep up with how tax laws change from year to year.
When you take out a home loan, the bank will require a home inspection to protect their investment. Even if you plan on paying cash for your home, you should still schedule an inspection for any property you intend to buy. While this won’t catch everything that might be wrong with the house, the Inspector will pinpoint problems that may be of major concern.
What Does a Home Inspection Cover?
The home inspection will determine the condition of the major components of the home. This starts with the Inspector visually examining the condition of the roof, foundation, and structure. They will also look at the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. As the Inspector takes a closer look inside the home, they will look at the attic insulation, watch for signs of water damage and mold growth, and check for pest infestations.
What Won’t the Inspector Do?
There are some things your home inspection won’t cover. In general, you shouldn’t expect the Inspector to look for minor damage that can be easily or cheaply repaired. In addition, the Inspector won’t remove or damage parts of the interior. This means they won’t look behind walls, remove electrical panels, or inspect the insides of chimneys or plumbing pipes.
What Will the Inspection Report Tell You?
You might be wondering what will happen if the inspection does uncover a problem. Anything the Inspector turns up will be recorded in the final report. When they do find a problem, they will note whether or not the issue will need to be repaired right away. They will also mention whether the problem concerns a safety issue or a major defect. If it’s a minor defect, the report will point that out as well. There may be other issues that don’t pose a problem right away, but the report will recommend keeping an eye on the issue. For example, the Inspector might advise you to budget for a roof replacement even though you don’t need it right away.
A home inspection is a necessary part of the home buying process. It will help ensure you’re aware of the true condition of the house, which will help you make a better-informed decision. Otherwise, you may buy a home that turns out to be an unexpected money pit.
Investing in real estate is a proven way to build wealth over a long period of time. In many markets around the country, real estate prices are increasing rapidly. As a result, it is a good time for real estate investors to purchase a property.
There are various strategies to invest in real estate. Some people prefer to purchase a property and rent it to tenants. This is a great way to generate cash flow and additional income each month. Other investors would rather purchase a property in need of various repairs. After investing time and money into a property, the investors can sell the property for a quick profit.
One of the biggest obstacles in purchasing a real estate property is getting the capital needed. There are few people who have the cash on hand to purchase a real estate property. Getting an investment loan is much more difficult than a typical housing loan. Banks have to take additional financial risks in order to lend money to investors. As a result, investment loans generally have a higher rate of interest than typical home loans.
As an investor, it is a good idea to shop around for various loan options. There are many people who choose the first loan option that is available. Getting a slightly lower interest rate can make a huge difference in the total amount of money made by the investor.
In a competitive real estate market, it can be difficult to find a property to purchase. Working with an experienced real estate agent is the best way to find a great deal in the local area. Most real estate agents know about new properties on the market before other people do.
Before working with a real estate agent, ask them about their experience finding investment properties. Finding an investment property is a much different process than finding a typical home.
It is vital for real estate investors to spend time screening tenants. Nothing is more difficult than dealing with bad tenants. Some real estate investors make the mistake of trying to rush the tenant screening process. Losing a month of rental income is worth finding the right tenant. Some people even give their tenants a small discount on rent if they pay at the right time each month.