BitLife’s latest major update dropped earlier in the month, and as you may already know, this is the much-awaited Landlord Update/Package. With this new package, you can now earn money by purchasing houses and renting them out to people, and it’s all up to you whether you want to act like an aloof and uncaring slum lord or if you want to be the benevolent, well-liked landlord who increases the value of their property by performing regular upgrades and maintenance and making sure their renters are on the up-and-up.
This is far from the only update expected to arrive this year for iOS and Android players alike, and apart from the weekly challenges, this is one of the biggest reasons why Candywriter’s ultra-popular life simulator title is still a hit with many mobile gamers.
As is the case with all other major updates, the Landlord Update comes with a ton of new features. But how do these features work, and how can you use them to make the most money possible or improve your reputation as a landlord/landlady in your corner of the BitLife world? Fear not, as this BitLife strategy guide contains all the information you need to know about the Landlord Update’s new features, how to use them, and what you can expect from the various non-playable characters you will be dealing with as a landlord or landlady.
Overview — You Need to Own a House to Rent Out Some Rooms
The features included in BitLife’s Landlord Update can be found in the Assets menu, and with that in mind, you cannot access these features unless you own at least one house. Any type of housing property will do, may it be a tiny trailer, or one-bedroom house, or a mansion with several rooms, but the important thing here is owning a house. Click on any of your houses and you will see a list of different actions that are unique to the Landlord Update.
Under the Property Management section, you’ll initially see four options — Amenities allows you to enjoy whatever amenities you have installed in that property, Inspect lets you check with your tenants and see how they are doing (and how your house is doing), Rent officially makes the property up for rent and allows you to start screening potential tenants, and Upgrade gives you a chance to start adding amenities to increase your home’s value and give would-be tenants a reason to consider your property. The Activities section remains unchanged, so everything you need to pay attention to would be in the upper half of each home’s menu.
Once somebody is already living in your house as a tenant, the Rent option will disappear and will not reappear unless the tenant moves out or you evict them. In its place, you’ll see two new choices, namely Lease and Maintenance. Lease simply lets you review the details of your contract with the tenant, and Maintenance lets you do routine maintenance on the property, all while the tenant is still living there.
All told this is not as expansive an update as most previous ones were, but it is, for what it’s worth, still a major update and a great chance for you to earn extra in-game income.
One Tenant Per Property
Although it might sound like an interesting idea to buy big houses (if you can afford them) with well more than the number of bedrooms you would normally need and rent them out to multiple people, BitLife’s Landlord Update comes with one significant limitation — you can only rent out your property to one tenant at a time. It doesn’t matter if you’re currently single and you own a house with six bedrooms — only one of those bedrooms can be rented out.
This does help to keep things simple, as there’s always the possibility that you will be dealing with some troublesome tenants, and it may be too much at the end of the day to deal with tenants who aren’t getting along with each other — at least in theory.
Still, even with that limitation in place, you can make a healthy amount of money if you own an expensive property and are renting it out to someone who’s paying close to $100,000 in rent a month. The recommended price of rent will increase along with the value of your properties, so don’t let this one-person-per-house limitation hold you back.
Most People Won’t Be Interested if There Aren’t Any Amenities
Now you have the option to rent out your property straight out of the gate and see if anyone’s interested in living in your place for a fixed amount of money per month. However, based on our experience, it won’t be easy to draw interest if you don’t have any amenities installed yet. That’s even if you’re renting out your property at less than what the game recommends as the most ideal monthly payment.
As part of the Landlord Update, BitLife has added several creature comforts you can install at your place to make it more interesting. From hot tubs to saunas to game rooms, you’ve got a wide range of options to choose from in the drop-down box, and you can even demolish amenities if you somehow tire of them, but all of these actions would naturally come at a cost.
When choosing the Amenities option, you will be directed to a screen where you can negotiate with a random contractor — along with the name of the contractor and type of amenity, you will also be able to view the projected cost and added value, as well as the contractor’s Reputation bar.
Contractors with a high Reputation will, of course, be more likely to do a good job on the upgrade at the lowest possible cost, while those with a poor Reputation may run up the costs and do an overall shoddy job on your property, potentially compromising its value. If you see a contractor you don’t like, though, you’re always free to choose to Look for Another Contractor and see if there’s someone else who can potentially do the job better.
You’re free to install multiple upgrades on most properties, based on what we’ve observed so far, but one limitation here is that you cannot install a new upgrade while a tenant is renting your property. Still, that’s a small inconvenience when using one of the more important new features introduced through the Landlord Update.
Putting Your Property Up for Rent
When you’re ready to put your property up for rent, tap on Rent in the house’s menu and you’ll be taken to the Property Listing screen where you can set several parameters that could help you find the right tenant. The Key Feature section seems pretty random — these would include different selling points in your home that you can highlight in your for-rent advertisement. Location is also random, and you’ll similarly get about three options that would tell would-be tenants where they can find the property.
Pet Policy is self-explanatory, as this allows you to choose whether to allow tenants to bring their pets or not. The Deposit would refer to the security deposit the tenant needs to pay to live on your property. And lastly, you can use the slider to adjust the rent per month — this would default to the game’s suggested figure, though you can choose to charge less or more money per month. If you have at least one amenity installed, that will also appear among the drop-down boxes, and you can use this to choose the amenity you want to focus on as a further selling point.
We haven’t seen any potential red flags or things to avoid when choosing a Key Feature, but when choosing Location, you will want to avoid traditionally unflattering locations, such as “adjacent to cemetery.” Allowing tenants to bring cats, dogs, or all types of pets could make your property more attractive to more people, but you also run the risk of the pets further damaging your property. Choosing the terms for the security deposit would depend on your financial needs at the time, but it would seem that renters are more attracted to terms that require fewer than two months’ deposit.
Don’t be discouraged if your property listing doesn’t attract any potential tenants. You don’t need to quit BitLife or hit the Age button to attract a new batch of tenants — just make some adjustments, possibly add an amenity if you can afford it, and try again. But attracting a tenant is only the start of the “battle,” so to say, as you’ll also need to expect the unexpected when screening people before they move in.
There Are Also Various Things to Consider When Screening Tenants
Once your ad has attracted someone’s attention, the next step would be to determine whether they’re a suitable tenant or not. You can approve their application on the spot and allow them to move in immediately, you can pay $150 to do a background check on the applicant, you can outright deny their application and look for another potential tenant, or you can give them a hard pass and stop looking altogether before possibly trying again the next year.
Each applicant has some basic information listed for you to view, and that includes their name, gender, age, the size of their household, and how many pets they have. It’s the First Impression bar that you need to pay the closest attention to — if the bar is at least 80 percent full, it might not be a bad idea to let them move in without any background checks, but we should also repeat that background checks only cost $150 and won’t eat into your bank balance.
Background Checks would reveal the applicant’s job, annual income, net worth, and how many past evictions they had. You will also be able to see their Credit Score in the form of a bar that appears above the options — red or orange bars indicate a poor credit score, while green ones suggest a healthy credit.
In addition to all that, you will also see a list of any crimes the applicants had been charged for — if a would-be tenant has a criminal record, you might want to think twice about letting them rent your place.
If you’re satisfied with what you see in the applicant, background check or none, you can push forward and let them move in, and if you aren’t, you can try vetting someone else or hit the age button before redoing the process.
Employment, Income, and Net Worth Aren’t Everything
While we’re still on the topic of the information found in the Background Check, let’s take a look at three of the variables to weigh when reviewing background check info. Just because a person has a stable job, high income, and/or high net worth, that doesn’t mean they’ll turn out to be good tenants who regularly pay their rent. Even filthy-rich rappers will opt not to pay their rent for a few months, as we observed during one playthrough, and so would other NPCs whose income and net worth are well above average.
What you need to be checking here is the Credit Score bar and the number of evictions. If the Credit Score bar is red or orange, you can expect some missed rent payments. If someone has been evicted more than once, that could mean more than just a tendency to skip payments — they could also be known for damaging property or making trouble in other ways. These two areas are far more accurate in terms of setting your expectations before somebody moves in, so make that background check count.
What to Do With Tenants Who Won’t Pay
We may have told you earlier to avoid potentially troublesome tenants, but sometimes you might have to bite the bullet and accept a less-than-desirable tenant if you need to make some money as a landlord fast. However, you should also be prepared to accept the possibility of these tenants messing up in several ways.
The most common way these people might make life hard for you as a landlord is by being unable to, or by refusing to pay their rent for at least a few months. When this happens, you have the option to demand that they pay up, evict them without any questions asked, or come back for them later. If you choose the latter, the option to collect rent from them will be part of the choices the next time you pull up the menu for the property in question.
Now there are a few things that could happen when you demand payment — they might pay everything they owe, they might ask for an extension, or they might deliberately disregard your request that they pay up. The first two are far more common than the latter, but if you ask them to pay up twice or more and they still refuse or are unable to do so, it might be time to evict them and evaluate whatever damage might have been incurred during their stay.
Expect Some Wear and Tear After Tenants Move Out of Your Place
Aside from eviction, there are other reasons why tenants may decide to move out from the place you’re renting out as part of the Landlord Update. They may be moving to a new and better place, they may be upset by the condition of the house or the way that you treat them, or they may be unhappy with your repeated refusal to perform repairs on the place. But regardless of why these people move out, you should always prepare for the strong possibility that there will be at least some damage or wear and tear.
If the damage is very minimal, the best thing to do would be to return their entire security deposit, but if it’s at least fairly substantial, you can deduct the cost of repairs from their security deposit, or you can have the repairs performed out of your pocket. Things do get interesting, however, when the damages are so severe that your house is uninhabitable; you will then be given the option to take the ex-tenant to court.
This could be a profitable move if you choose the cheapest available lawyer and demand a large amount of money, usually more than the value that BitLife would auto-suggest. However, this could also backfire if you lose the case — not only will you not be getting the damages you were suing for. The attorney fees, of course, will be gone forever, so keep this in mind when deciding on whether or not to sue a tenant who trashes your home.
Make Sure to Regularly Inspect Your Properties
Unless you’re playing your current life on BitLife in such a way that you’re aiming to be your city’s top slum lord, the Landlord Update would work best for you if you’re making sure your tenants are happy and contented. This has an impact on Tenant Satisfaction, which we shall be explaining later on in this guide, and one simple way you can keep your tenants’ spirits up is by visiting them at least once every two in-game years, or preferably once per year. This is also a good way to make sure that your properties are in good condition compared to the time you rented them out to the current tenants.
To schedule a visit to a given property, just tap on the house and choose Inspect. You will be taken to a screen where you can see the property’s condition, the tenant’s satisfaction level, and other basic details about the house. The important thing here is to select the type of notice — do you drop by 24 hours, seven days, 14 days, or 30 days in advance, or do you drop by with no notice whatsoever.
Generally speaking, tenants don’t appreciate it if you make a surprise visit with no notice, and if you choose to visit on very short notice (24 hours), there’s a fair chance you may discover that there is some damage. Giving tenants more notice allows them more time to have repairs done on their own, and is typically more appreciated.
As always, you have the choice to pay for the repairs yourself or to charge them to the tenant — choose the former if the tenant is well-behaved with a good payment history, and choose the latter if you wish when you’ve got a tenant who’s notorious for bad behavior, late payment, etc. They won’t be a big loss anyway if you have to evict them eventually.
Don’t Forget to Perform Maintenance (and/or Upgrades) On Your Own
Your tenants will also greatly appreciate it if you take some time to spiff up your properties. You are, after all, the owner and the one who should be scheduling routine maintenance or making upgrades that would keep tenant satisfaction at high levels. You don’t have to do this every year, especially when it comes to the upgrades, but just as long as you’re having maintenance performed on a semi-regular basis at least, that should also ensure that your properties remain in good condition (or good enough condition relative to their condition at purchase).
While upgrades may be expensive and finding the right contractor may be challenging at times, having more than one amenity has multiple benefits. For one, you have more to choose from when listing the property for rent in the future, and you also have more choices of leisure activities to boost your Happiness (and sometimes Health). It’s not just the tenants who can take a dip in your pool or use the sauna — you too can enjoy the amenities you paid for by tapping on the house, then on Amenities, then on the specific amenity you wish to use.
Be Very Careful When Renting Out a Haunted House!
Yes, that is correct — BitLife’s Landlord Update does allow you to rent out haunted properties. If the house is livable and the Condition bar is orange or green, then people can stay there. But would it be worth it to rent out a haunted property?
If the house is only mildly haunted, then there shouldn’t be too much of a problem — there is a chance your tenants may move out because of the hauntedness of the place, but other than that, it should be business as usual for the most part. But if the Hauntedness bar is orange or red, that’s where things can get really, really tricky. We’ve seen this twice during our test playthroughs, but a tenant may get killed by the malevolent spirits residing in an extremely haunted house! At this point, it would be much better to just sell the property at a loss or perform an exorcism/hire an exorcist to get the ghosts out of the place.
Tenants Are Capable of Other Bad Behaviors
We already discussed potential issues with unpaid rent a few tips back, but as we mentioned there, your tenants may engage in other negative behaviors that might make you want to consider whether to keep doing business with them.
Aside from falling back on their rent, tenants who give off a bad first impression or have some red flags on their background check (criminal record, multiple evictions, poor credit) may also tend to create more disturbances than usual, may it be through loud house parties, doing donuts in the driveway with their vehicles, or performing certain activities that annoy the neighbors.
You have the option to evict them right away, which is something you certainly should consider if it’s not the first time they’ve been making such trouble. But you can also hang up on the neighbor or insult the neighbor, thus effectively taking the tenant’s side. And you can also side with the neighbor by calling the cops on your tenant, or simply warning them.
The biggest risk involved in taking the neighbors’ side is that your tenant might take it against you if you call the police on them or even give them a stern warning not to repeat the offending actions. That will reduce tenant satisfaction, but then again, would it even be worth it if the tenant is a habitual offender who’s been giving you nothing but problems since they moved in?
Sometimes, Tenants Might Choose to Squat on Your Property
This is another one of those miscellaneous bad behaviors tenants in BitLife are capable of doing, but it probably deserves a separate tip on your own. While relatively rare, this would typically be more likely to happen if you’re dealing with a tenant who has poor credit and/or a history of evictions, but there’s a small chance they may one day decide to start squatting in your property or staying in the house without paying a dime’s worth of rent. They may feel the rent is too high and there’s no getting through to you as the landlord or landlady, hence their decision to take matters into their own hands and just squat in the house without paying.
If you’ve got a squatter problem, you may choose to take them to court to get the unpaid rent that they owe you, and once again, you’ll need to weigh the value of the unpaid rent against lawyer fees. Sometimes, your best option may be to just take the loss and evict them, then move on to another batch of applicants so you can get back into the groove of things with a new, and hopefully less troublesome tenant.
Most of the Usual NPC Interactions Apply to Tenants Too
Moving on to interactions with tenants as the latest NPCs to enter the BitLife universe, you may be pleasantly surprised to see that most of the ones that are available when interacting with family, friends, co-workers, or classmates can be found when you tap on the tenant’s name in the house menu.
Just as you could with other NPCs, you can compliment tenants, engage in conversations with them, give them gifts, or hook up with them. Once your Relationship bar is well into green territory, you can make friends with them. Quite interestingly, you can also ask them out (as you could bandmates, movie or TV show co-stars, etc.), and the next time you pull up their tenant menu after they agree to start dating you, you will see the usual options for romantic partners even if you’re viewing them as tenants.
Overall, there isn’t that much unique about the tenant interaction screen, but BitLife also gives you the option to evict them through this screen. You don’t exactly have to wait until something unpleasant happens — if you and your tenant simply aren’t getting along, just tap on the Evict tab with the boot next to the word, and they will no longer be living in the house you’re renting out, thus freeing you to look for new applicants.
Always Pay Attention to the Tenant Satisfaction and Property Condition Bars
After hitting on the Age button to move on from one year of your life to the next, BitLife will roll out your Real Estate Portfolio report for the year. After some brief feedback on how your properties are doing (e.g. some properties may need maintenance, you may want to visit your tenants, tenants are generally satisfied, etc.), you will see the number of properties you are renting out, the total revenue from rent payments, and the net earnings for the year. These are all important figures and pieces of information, but none are more important than the two bars right above the OK button — Property Condition and Tenant Satisfaction.
Property Condition, naturally, refers to the overall condition of all properties you are currently renting out to tenants, while Tenant Satisfaction pertains to all tenants’ general, combined satisfaction with you as a landlord/landlady. Performing regular maintenance and doing some renovations from time to time, both of which you can do while people are living in the house, can both help improve the condition of any given house, though it seems to be more expensive than before to get a house in poor to mediocre condition fully renovated to a point where the Condition bar is close to being filled up or completely filled up.
When talking about Tenant Satisfaction, it can be as simple as choosing the most tenant-friendly option in those dialog boxes where tenants may be asking you to do them a favor, may it be helping them move their furniture and appliances or considering a slight discount to their monthly rent payments. Regular inspections also help, as we discussed earlier, as do positive interactions from the tenant screen — conversations and compliments can be your way of letting your tenants know that you care, and it doesn’t hurt (in theory) to befriend them or enter a romantic relationship with them.
If your properties are in generally good condition and your tenants are mostly happy and contented, that could lead to more interested renters if you need to find new tenants, or if you buy a new house and decide to rent it out!