BAM Key Details: 

  • New Zillow research reveals the two most demanding responsibilities for landlords, based on a nationally-represented survey of over 1,000 first-time and repeat landlords. 
  • March 2023 brought a 22% annual increase in landlords listing their rental properties for the first time through Zillow Rental Manager. 

Zillow just announced the results of a nationwide survey that revealed what investors wished they knew before becoming landlords. Over 1,000 landlords responded to the survey. And they did not hold back. 

Turns out, the two biggest hassles for landlords are screening potential tenants and maintaining their rental properties. 

With that in mind—and with peak rental season approaching—landlords who already know the challenges are looking for rental management solutions to save them time, money, and grief on the tasks that take the biggest toll. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

More landlords, more problems

No, the landlords aren’t (usually) the problem. But, as Zillow economists predicted, spring 2023 has brought a surge in first-time landlords, thanks to the record-low mortgage rates in 2020-2021 that increased second home purchases. 

March 2023, in particular, saw a 22% increase in the number of landlords listing their properties for the first time through Zillow Rental Manager

To provide helpful insights into rental property ownership, Zillow’s Population Science department conducted a survey of over 1,000 first-time and repeat landlords, and their responses shed light on the two most burdensome aspects of being a rental property owner. 

The typical (median) landlord responding to the survey had two rental properties. 

The two most demanding responsibilities for landlords

Nearly all of the survey respondents (92%) said maintenance or repairs ranked among the top three most taxing responsibilities of managing a rental property, and 40% ranked it as the number one most demanding aspect of the job.

Seventy-one percent of respondents ranked screening tenants—which includes reading applications, completing background checks and credit checks—among the top three most demanding landlord activities. 

More than one-third of respondents (36%) indicated they wished they would have known—before investing—how difficult it would be to find reliable renters. They also found managing the rental (including accounting and communicating with tenants) more time-consuming than they had expected. 

Thirty-four percent also said they wished they would have known how much effort the leasing process would take—including processing applications, scheduling tours, preparing leases, etc.

Investing in a rental property can provide reliable income and housing for a renter who needs it, but it’s crucial for landlords to understand the responsibilities. Many landlords wish they had known more about the effort required to find tenants and keep the property in good condition.

Manny Garcia

Population scientist at Zillow

Landlord resources available with Zillow Rental Manager

Owning rental property is a round-the-clock commitment to staying on top of tenant concerns, on top of vetting new renters, managing leases, and all the tasks and expenses that fall under maintenance and repairs. Many large rental property investors have developed systems of their own to streamline management tasks and support their rental managers. 

Lacking that, one resource landlords can explore is Zillow Rental Manager, which provides the following services at no cost: 

Top takeaways for real estate agents

If you serve rental property owners (current or aspiring) in your area, it’s important to know about any tools and resources available that could help them get the best return on their investment, as well as save them time and money with the management of their properties. 

Along with advising them on local market conditions, encourage them to explore their options for rental management platforms and tools. 

And be quick to share any insights gained from other landlords in your area, so your new landlords can benefit from that knowledge and get the best possible start.