Is Owning Rental Property Worth It? Assessing the Pros and Cons

Everybody wants passive income, and real estate investors swear rentals are the golden ticket. But is being a landlord really as lucrative and worthwhile as people claim? This guide offers transparency into the upsides and downsides so you can decide if rental riches are in the cards for you.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
May 1, 2024
Is Owning Rental Property Worth It? Assessing the Pros and Cons

Owning rental property: is it the path to wealth or a road paved with headaches? Real estate gurus love to glamorize being a landlord, but is it really all it's cracked up to be? Before you get swept up in the hype, let's take an honest look at the potential upsides and downsides.

From rental income to real estate appreciation to tax benefits, the allure is undeniable. But there's also a laundry list of costs, regulations, and nightmare tenant scenarios to consider. By the end of this guide, you'll have a clear picture of what you're signing up for.

We'll separate fact from fiction when it comes to rental property ownership. Armed with the full scoop, you can decide whether this investment vehicle is worth the ride or if you should pump the brakes.

How can you make money from owning rental property?

Most people are familiar with rental income as the primary way to earn money from a rental property. Still, there are several other methods experienced rental property owners use to make money:

Cash flow

Positive cash flow means there's more money coming in than going out. Landlords achieve financial gain when the monthly rent paid by tenants is higher than the total expenses of maintaining the rental property. This includes operating expenses like the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and repairs. 


Real estate appreciation is another strategy that real estate investors use to grow their wealth. By holding an investment for the long term, rental property owners benefit from rising property values. As the price grows, so does the owner's equity, which is the difference between the market value and any outstanding mortgage balance.

Tax deductions

Owning property can offer various tax advantages. The most common include:

  • Mortgage interest deduction: Landlords can deduct the interest portion of their mortgage payments from their taxable income, lowering their overall tax liability.
  • Property tax write-offs: Property taxes paid on rental property are tax-deductible, further reducing the landlord's taxable income.
  • Depreciation claims: The IRS allows landlords to claim depreciation on their rental properties, which accounts for the wear and tear of the property over time. This depreciation is a tax deduction, even though it doesn't represent an actual cash expense.
  • 1031 exchanges: This tax strategy allows investors to defer paying capital gains taxes on the sale of an investment property by reinvesting the proceeds into a similar property. Using a 1031 exchange helps grow wealth without incurring immediate tax liabilities.


Leverage is a powerful tool that allows you to use your existing rental properties to buy additional investments. By borrowing capital against your current assets, you can expand your portfolio and increase your potential returns. Here are a few ways investors can leverage their rental property:

  • Cash-out refinance: You can refinance a rental property to cash out a portion of the equity for a down payment on another investment property. This is often part of the BRRRR method, where investors buy, rehab, rent, refinance, and repeat the process with another property using the cash from the refinance.
  • HELOC: This is a revolving line of credit secured by the equity in a rental property. It allows you to draw funds as needed for new investments, expenses, or other opportunities without applying for a new loan each time.

What are the costs associated with rental property?

To make sound investment decisions, you should also understand the costs involved in rental property ownership. The potential benefits are attractive, but it's wise to factor in the various expenses that come with being a landlord. Let's take a closer look at the regular and potential unexpected costs you may encounter.

Regular monthly expenses

Here are the typical, recurring expenses you can expect for your rental property:

  • Mortgage: For most property investors, mortgage payments are a substantial monthly expense. Mortgage costs can vary depending on the property value and the terms of the mortgage.
  • Property taxes: Property taxes are fees that the local government charges to real estate owners. The local jurisdiction assesses the value and location of the property to determine the tax amounts.
  • Property and landlord insurance: General property insurance protects your investment property from damage or loss due to fire, natural disasters, and other risks. Landlord insurance protects you from income loss and offers liability in case someone is injured, as well as coverage for tenant-caused damage. Together, these insurance policies protect your assets and income stream.
  • Maintenance and repairs: Landlords assume responsibility for keeping the property in good working condition, including addressing repairs or any damages that occur. Regular maintenance helps protect the rental property value and keeps tenants happy. 
  • Property management: If you hire a property manager, the management fees typically range from 8% to 12% of the monthly rent you collect. Property management costs can be worth it, though, because they free you from having to deal with the day-to-day operations of your rental.

Unexpected expenses

Unplanned expenses are bound to occur. You should leave room in your budget for events such as:

  • Emergency repairs: Issues like plumbing leaks or electrical faults may come up without warning and need fixing immediately.
  • Vacancy costs: Vacancies can occur when a tenant moves out and there's no immediate replacement, resulting in a temporary loss of income. Your property expenses, such as mortgage payments, utilities, and maintenance, will still need to be paid during this time, despite your lack of rental income.
  • Legal fees: Tenant disputes over issues such as unpaid rent, as well as evictions, can lead to legal expenses. The cost of legal fees depends on the length and complexity of the proceedings.

Set aside a portion of the monthly profit in a reserve fund to cover unexpected expenses. As a general rule, allocate around 10% of the rent, adjusting based on the property's age, condition, and tenant turnover rate.

Weighing the pros and cons of owning rental property

Before making an investment decision, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of rental property ownership to determine if it aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.


Besides making money, there are other advantages to owning a rental property, such as:

  • Hedging against inflation: As the cost of living rises, so do rental rates. This means your property income can keep pace with inflation, maintaining your purchasing power over time.
  • Portfolio diversification: Real estate investments can help diversify your investment portfolio, reducing overall risk by spreading your assets across different asset classes.
  • Decision-making: Landlords have the freedom to make decisions regarding their property. This includes setting rental rates, selecting tenants, and managing property improvements.


Here's a list of potential pitfalls to consider when owning a rental property:

  • Time and effort: Managing a rental property can be time-consuming and requires effort. You'll need to handle maintenance, repairs, and other responsibilities, which can be challenging if you have a full-time job or other commitments. Consider hiring property managers to help offset some of these tasks.
  • Bad tenants: Difficult tenants who pay rent late, cause property damage, or violate lease terms can be a major headache. This can lead to legal issues and financial losses.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: Landlords must meet various local, state, and federal regulations, including fair housing laws, safety codes, and eviction procedures. Failure to comply can result in legal consequences and financial penalties.
  • Market fluctuations: The real estate market can be unpredictable. Factors such as economic downturns, an oversupply of rental properties, or changes in neighborhood conditions can negatively impact your income and property value.
  • Lack of liquidity: Real estate investments are less liquid compared to other assets like stocks or bonds. Selling a rental property can take time and may be subject to market conditions.

Is owning a rental property worth it?

At the end of the day, there's no universal "yes" or "no" answer to whether rental property ownership is the right move. It ultimately depends on your situation and investment objectives.

For some, the potential for long-term appreciation, passive income, and tempting tax advantages will outweigh the hands-on work and risks involved. Others may find that actively managing tenants and properties doesn't align with their goals or risk appetite.

The choice boils down to your financial aims and the kind of lifestyle you want to live — be brutally honest about evaluating the tradeoffs. If you crave total financial freedom with minimal hassle, you may need to hire a property manager to help. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and feel excited about building wealth, taking a calculated risk into rental property ownership could pay off handsomely.

No matter which road you choose, the path to profits lies in making intentional money moves that work for you. Stay educated, stay dedicated, and create your own recipe for success.

Is rental property worth it? FAQs

How much profit should you make on a rental property?

Profit varies depending on factors like location, property type, and market conditions. Generally, a good target is a positive cash flow after expenses and a reasonable return on investment.

Is owning 1 rental property worth it?

Yes, owning one rental property can be worth it if managed well, providing a source of steady income and potential for property value appreciation.

Do rental properties actually make money?

Yes, they can generate income through rental payments, appreciation in property value over time, and tax advantages. Profitability depends on property management, market conditions, and expenses.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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