As the owner of a rental building, you will not always have the time to handle things in the building. What happens when a prospective tenant shows up in the middle of the day? Will you leave your day job to go unlock a vacant unit for them? How about when a tenant needs to have their bulb changed? If you have a day job and do not live in the building, it makes sense to hire a caretaker.
A caretaker will act as sort of a representative for you. They will collect rent if you like to have it in cash. They will collect receipts after tenants have deposited in the bank. They will answer inquiries from tenants. They will help settle disputes. They will help make decisions about the building as if the rent needs to be reduced. A caretaker will show up when you cannot. They will hold down the fort for you. If you find a good one, your visits to the building will be a mere formality.
The building will require maintenance every once in a while. There will be a missing bulb. There will be a need to reset the surge protector so that the building does not remain in the dark unnecessarily. There will be a need to keep the building clean. If the building needs a fresh coat of paint, the caretaker should be able to supervise this among other things. Every little thing that is out of place in the building, they can and will handle.
Finding a good caretaker will not be easy. Being a caretaker is actually quite boring because well, it is a lot of sitting around waiting for something to break or a prospective tenant to show interest in a vacancy. You will need someone with particular qualities. Qualities that allow them to be committed and good at the job without letting the idleness distract them. Below are some of those qualities.
Many caretakers take on second jobs to fill the time. There is a lot of free time when you are a caretaker. It is not every day that a person is coming around to see a vacant unit. It is not every day that someone needs help with a leaky faucet in their bathroom. It is not every day that the gate needs a fresh coat of paint. If your caretaker gets a second job, you should ensure that it does not interrupt their work in your building. They should still be present to meet new tenants. They should be present to help out tenants when they need something. He should be able to show up in case of an emergency. As the building owner, it would be unfair to expect that they just sit around and wait for activity. If it does not prevent anything then, by all means, let them get a side hustle.
The tenants will need someone who shows up when they are called. What good does it do to have a caretaker who lives in the building but does not answer tenant calls? Can you as his or her employer depend on him to be fully committed to his job? Can you depend on him to represent you to the tenants? Can you depend on him to manage the building affairs promptly and with efficacy? If your caretaker is not dependable then you will find yourself having to leave your own job to handle things at the building. You will even have trouble when you need to do improvements and renovations in the building. If you cannot depend on this person to handle such then what is the point of having them? This is why a probation period is required just to see that this is a person you can depend on. Bottom line is that a caretaker must be reliable.
You also want a person who values transparency. This building is your business. You need to be able to trust that this person will inform you when there is an issue even if it is their fault. Your tenants will feel safer with an honest person in the building to take care of things for them. You will also be more relaxed and not overly bothered by what the caretaker could be up to. There will not be a need for elaborate plots to catch them in the wrong.
The very essence of a caretaker is for them to help out. They should show up whenever needed by the tenants. Any tenant who needs help with something in their unit, the caretaker should be on hand to lend a hand. The desire to help is important as it lets the tenants know that they have someone to rely on if they need it. In case of a medical emergency, the caretaker will be there ready to take action to save a life. A helpful person will usually invest emotionally in the business and will, therefore, have a sense of pride in their work.
You will not have time to come around the building often to supervise repairs and renovations. You will not have time to constantly inspect the condition of the building. The caretaker should take care of these duties without prompting. What happens if your work takes you away for a month? Will you come back to a run-down building because you were unavailable to point out issues? You should get someone who does all these things without being pushed. Someone who takes initiative and understands that a big part of their job is fixing things because they get worse.
When people live in close quarters together, there is bound to be quite a bit of friction. People are bound to clash. One neighbor will get on another’s bad side. Another neighbor will be a drunk and therefore disruptive. A caretaker will often be the one who is called upon when such things happen. They need to be able to solve issues like this with diplomacy and objectivity. The tenants need to know that they have someone around who can help come up with solutions. You will also be at peace knowing that disagreements will not escalate to the point of injury and property damage.
Some things do not really need a repairman. If a tenant needs their bulb changed, is there really a need to call an electrician? If a screw is loose, what need is there to call someone? The caretaker should have the mind to tighten and change those bulbs. They should be handy around the building. If they see loose putty on a window, they should just go buy a quarter kilo and patch that up. You need someone active and who does not mind getting their hands dirty. If you are ever doing some renovations, their presence on-site will help keep everyone in line.
8. Good communicator
If a person works with people they must be excellent at communicating. Imagine having a caretaker who cannot communicate. There will be constant miscommunications between you and the caretaker. The caretaker will constantly have trouble passing important messages to the tenants. Imagine a situation where a new tenant moves in. On their first Sunday night, they leave their trash outside the gate so that it is collected early the next morning. Dogs scatter everything right outside the gate at night leaving the place unsightly. However, in this building that is not how things are done. The trash collectors pick bags of trash from each door. The caretaker does not communicate this but rather sulks then their view of this person is tainted.
Some tenants can be difficult. You need someone who will not necessarily be an alpha but whose voice will command peace. Someone who will not be pushed around by the difficult and pushy tenants. Someone who will stand their ground especially on issues like evictions and rent payment. A person who will not allow the rules of the building to be ignored. Someone who will not let their position be misused by people who lack boundaries.
Morality is very important. Morality means doing the right thing even when the wrong thing is more profitable. It means not letting robbers into the building even when offered a sizeable chunk of the loot. It means not evicting a mother at night but rather waiting until early morning so they have a lot of time to make arrangements for alternative accommodations.
A good caretaker will make your life as a landlord much easier. A good caretaker should also be well paid and taken care of. A good caretaker will be the difference between long term vacancies and quickly filled ones.