DIY Landlord experiences range from great to "nightmare". It's VERY important, if you find yourself in this situation... that you cut off any emotional connection you may feel towards that property and immediately enter into a small business relationship with it. Why? Having a rental property can often make you or break you. And if you are a DIY Landlord, you are at high risk of having your rental property break you.
We suggest reading through the topics on this page, then clicking on the right red buttons for more good landlord information. Read, prepare and organize yourself as much as you can. But if you decide the DIY Landlord things isn't for you... don't worry. You can hire a professional property manager! And remember, once the rental property is your business, the costs associated with running things like paying your property manager, paying real estate commissions, repairs, improvements, etc will be tax deductions. Read books and articles, become as knowledgeable as possible so you set yourself up for success.
You may want to consider setting up as an LLC. Often, people will use the property address as the name of the LLC. For example: 235 Hummingbird Lane LLC. Once a legal entity is established, you can open a separate banking account to use solely for the purpose of your rental property, holding security deposits, paying expenses, etc. Bookkeeping becomes much more efficient when using separate accounts from your personal.
LLCs are one popular option because they are "limited liability" companies, limiting certain aspects of your liability. But S Corps are also popular because they are personal corporations that some believe are much easier to deal with as far as preparing taxes every year.
In this day and age, anyone can sue anyone else, for anything. Protect yourself! Purchase a rental property liability insurance policy. Check your current homeowner's policy, sometimes they can attach an umbrella policy to cover your rental property.
Bookmark your state's Landlord Tenant State Statutes onto your desktop or laptop computer for easy reference. Or print a copy of them to easily refer to in a pinch. You WILL need them! Is your rental property in Florida? Florida Landlord/Tenant Law. These state statutes will give you the important information you need to know to avoid discrimination, the correct number of days you'll need for sending notices to your tenants, how evictions work, limitations on late fees, abandoned property issues, security deposit laws, and much more.