3 Tips for Starting a Rent Roll from Scratch


When I first started my rent roll, I didn’t have someone tell me what I needed to do, to start it the right way. 

And, let me be honest, I made a bunch of mistakes along the way. 

So, if you’ve decided that it’s time to start your own rent roll, there are three things you must do in the first three weeks of getting started. 

But what if you’re already a rent roll owner? 

You can still look at these three things and ensure you’ve checked the box on all of them for yourself. 

It’s never too late to take these three steps.  

  1. Get the boring legal advice.

When you first start a business, you want to save money. So, when the lawyer tells you they charge $800 an hour to talk to you, it’s an easy thing to avoid. In fact, most new rent roll owners tell me that “once they get to about 50 properties, they’ll hire a good business lawyer”. 

But getting legal advice is the most important thing you’ll ever do in your business. 

You must determine the best entity structure for your business. This means the entity structure that will work for you now and in the future. You need to know how to structure your business best if you’re taking an investor or a business partner. You must know how to create an exit strategy for your business (and your business partner too, if you’ve got one). You need to know how to set yourself up for tax reasons (so that means your lawyer must talk to your accountant). With all the different types of taxes out there, you must prepare for this. 

Now here’s the truth about the boring legal advice: It will feel expensive. It will feel boring and like overkill. Especially if you work with a lawyer who really understands rent roll ownership. But if you don’t, there’s a fair chance that you’ll wish you did. 

So, before you start your rent roll, get the boring legal advice. 

Don’t stress if you’ve already started your rent roll. Please find a lawyer who understands rent roll ownership, and get that boring legal advice for your business right now. This will ensure you stay protected and continue to grow with the best business structure for you. 

Need really great legal advice from a lawyer who knows all about starting a rent roll? Check out these 5 Hot Tips For Starting Your Own Real Estate Agency. 

  1. Get away from your computer.

When I first started my own rent roll, I did 3 things. 

  1. I chose my Property Management software (at my computer). 
  2. I selected a business name (at my computer). 
  3. And I built a website myself (also, at my computer). 

Then I waited for the landlords to call me. 

And here’s what happened: They didn’t call. Nobody called me, nobody asked me to do an appraisal, nobody wanted me to manage their investment property. 

So, I sat at my computer. I designed a new listing kit. I wrote all my template emails and forms. I created my systems and procedures. I created a brochure to do letterbox drops. I even designed my For Lease signs. 

I sat at my computer, wondering why landlords weren’t calling me, for about 6 weeks. That’s right, no money, no clients, no nothing for 6 weeks. I didn’t start growing my rent roll until I stepped away from my computer and got out into the real world. 

So when you decide to step away from your computer and grow your rent roll, here’s where to go.  

Get yourself into an organised business networking group. You will likely have to pay to join a networking group like this. You’ll likely have to attend the groups’ event every single week. And you’ll likely have to do this early in the morning (because they’re usually breakfast meetings). 

Why business networking groups? Organised business networking groups are the ultimate place to connect with other business owners. These groups create strategic alliances with your local business community. Your local business community is the perfect place to secure new business. 

Get yourself into your local café. Ideally, meet someone for coffee. No, not your mum. Meet other business owners for coffee. Your job, when you’re starting (and growing) a rent roll is to be out meeting people. Your job is to grow your network. Your mission is to find referral partners. And your sole purpose is looking for leads and forming referral partnerships. And your local café is a great place to do this. 

Need some extra ideas for how to grow your rent roll?  Join me for my upcoming masterclass: 5 Ways To Grow Your Rent Roll. 

  1. Make friends with your camera.

If you’re like most Property Managers, you don’t love having your photo taken. It’s possible you feel uncomfortable on video too. Here’s the thing. You need to make friends with your camera and get cool with appearing on camera. A lot. 

Now, I totally understand that this can feel narcissistic. But there’s a reason you need to be on camera and sharing these photos and videos on your social media. It’s not about you. It’s about your audience getting to know you better. They need to see you and hear you, to know, like and trust you. 

As you begin to make friends with your camera, you will discover so many opportunities for photos and videos in your work day. You can leverage these opportunities and share them as part of your marketing plan. 

Here are some ideas for getting in front of your camera:  

  1. Snap a selfie (or group selfie) every single time you do a key handover appointment with your tenants. Then (with your tenant’s permission) share this on social media. And share it more than once. 
  2. Jump on live video at an empty rental property and run a virtual open home. You’ve just come through the COVID-19 pandemic, so you know all about virtual open homes by now. Please don’t forget about them simply because you’re allowed to run regular open homes again. 
  3. Hit record on your video the next time you have a coffee with one of your referral partners. Ask them for advice that would serve your landlord clients, and ask them about their business. 
  4. Grab a picture then next time you sit down with a tenant’s pet (with the tenant’s permission of course). Then use it as inspiration to write an article about pets in rental properties. 
  5. Practice talking direct to the camera when you’re in the office alone. The skill of speaking as though you’re talking to a friend, while looking at the camera lens, is exactly that: a skill. It requires deliberate practice. The easiest way to practice is using your mobile phone, in your office alone.  

Need more ideas on how to get comfortable in front of the camera? Check out my article on How I went from being TERRIBLE with video to being TOTALLY okay with it! 

Starting your own rent roll is fun, exciting and extremely rewarding. But there’s work to be done, and some of that work isn’t as fun, exciting or instantly rewarding. Do these three things in the first three weeks of starting your rent roll (or even in the next three weeks, if you’ve already started) and you’ll set yourself up for success in the years to follow. 

Now, if you need more ideas for growing your rent roll, be sure to register for my upcoming Masterclass: 5 Ways To Grow Your Rent Roll. 

And if you haven’t read my last blog Which Social Platform is best for Rent Roll Growth? be sure to check that out next 

A version of this article first appeared on Elite Agent. 

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