How to manage your own rental property

Is it better to manage your own rental properties or hire a property manager to do it for you? Well, everyone is different. If you’re interested in self-managing, this post is here to give you a few tips on how to manage your own rental property, so let’s get started.

I remember the day I bought my first rental property.  A little two-bedroom on Rogers Ave. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to get my first tenant and let the cash-flowing begin.  I knew nothing about managing rental property. After all, it must be Rocket science, right? So, I interviewed a few property managers, hired one, and four months later fired them and began self-managing.  That was several years ago, and I’ve been self-managing ever since.

I realize many real estate investors choose to hire property managers, but I strongly recommend self-managing, especially when you’re first starting out.  Self-managing allows you to learn so much about property management and even real estate investing as a whole.

I’ve found managing your own rental properties is also easier than you might think – with the right system in place.  In my experience, self-managing your rental properties will help you screen tenants better, find tenants sooner, handle maintenance requests faster (& cheaper), and you’ll never be left wondering “how are things going?”

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Learning how to manage your own rental property comes down to finding the right process and keeping things as simple as possible.  In this post, I’m going to share the process I follow that has worked very well for me. In fact, I bought, rehabbed and self-managed my first 20 or so properties while living out-of-state!  Ok, here’s how I manage my own rental properties.

Only Rent Out Maintenance-Free Properties

Ok – slight correction.  No property is truly maintenance-free, but you know what I mean. Now, you do need to be careful not to overdo it on your rehabs, but you need to get your property as close to maintenance-free as possible.  

Trust me, if your properties aren’t properly fixed up, not only are you not going to attract quality tenants, but the tenants you do find will be on you all the time to get things fixed.  This creates a huge time suck for you, and service calls aren’t cheap. So, do yourself favor, fix what needs to be fixed before renting the property.

The big items you need to pay attention to are the roof, plumbing, electrical & HVAC.  Have these items inspected and brought to good working order, and you’ll save yourself many headaches down the road.  

Know How to Attract Quality Tenants

Obviously, part of learning how to manage your own rental property involves finding tenants. Finding tenants is really easy; there are always people looking to rent. Finding good, quality tenants is a bit harder but still something you can certainly do on your own.  

The biggest key to attracting quality tenants is understanding what they want.  Now, this is no big secret. A good tenant wants just what you would want if you were looking for a place to rent: a well-maintained property, safe neighborhood, good schools (should they have kids), quiet neighbors, etc.  

So a big part in attracting quality tenants is having the right kind of property. You also need a plan to advertise your rental property. The great thing is advertising your rental property is completely free…apart from your time of course.

There are a number of sites that will allow you to post your rental property for free.  Here’s a short list…

However, utilizing a property management software like Buildium makes this a lot easier. With the click of a button or two, Buildium will push your rental property listing out to major real estate sites like the ones listed above.  This saves you a lot of time by not having to visit these sites one-by-one.

Use Rently Lockboxes For Self-Showings

Unless you’re doing real estate full-time, it’s likely you don’t time to run all over town meeting people to show your rental properties.  This obviously takes time – which is why many property managers charge 50% of the first month’s rent.

I’ve also found that a good percentage of people who schedule an appointment to see a property will flake on you which only increases the amount of time wasted not to mention that, like you, many people work during the day, so they’ll want to meet you in the evening.

With all this being said, you can eliminate this huge time suck by investing in Rently lockboxes.  I love Rently. Rently lockboxes essentially allow people to self-register, open the lockbox themselves, and gain access to the property without you having to meet them.

If that sounds risky to you, I completely understand.  I will say, though, that Rently requires quite a bit of information before giving prospects access to the lockbox – including a debit/credit number which they verify with a test charge.

All I can say is that I’ve managed upwards of 40 of my rental properties at once using Rently, and I’ve never once had an issue.  

Do Everything Electronically

As I just mentioned, at one point I was managing close to 40 of my own rental properties while working a full-time job and running another business!  Any way I can save time, I do it. Unless absolutely necessary, I don’t meet tenants face-to-face. I don’t even have a real estate office. I have all mail sent to a UPS Store mailbox.  

I use Buildium’s property management software to take online applications, do tenant screenings, receive rent payments and even promote my rental properties on popular real estate sites.  I use dotloop to send out leases for e-signatures, and I make tenants email me their IDs along with pay stubs.

Because I use Rently, I can pop open the lockbox remotely giving new tenants access to the keys.  I could stand next to most of my tenants at the grocery store, and not even know it. It’s rare that I meet my tenants face-to-face.

Maybe you’re of a different school of thought, but this is how I do things, and it’s allowed me to be a real estate investor while juggling many other responsibilities.


As a real estate investor, you’ll have to decide whether self-managing your rentals or hiring a property manager is a better fit for you.  Personally, I’ve done both, and I much prefer self-managing. In this post, I’ve given you some tips on to how to manage your own rental property with relative ease.  I hope it helps.

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