Have you ever rented your home out? If you purchased a residential investment property, you just might be an old pro by now. On the other hand, if you purchased a new home before selling your current home, you may need to alleviate the pain of two mortgages. No matter what your situation is, the following tips can help the rental process run smoothly for all parties involved.
- Make sure your home is pleasing to the eye. – Renters value many of the same amenities/benefits that buyers seek out, so make your rental home inviting. This includes removing unnecessary clutter, making sure the lawn is freshly cut, adding a fresh coat of paint and having the carpets thoroughly cleaned. You should also take care of any of those repairs you’ve been putting off. Consulting a licensed real estate salesperson with a knack for home staging might help you rent your home out more quickly.
- Set a competitive monthly rent. – Before deciding what to charge for monthly rent, do a little research. You can use websites to see what comparable rents in your community are going for. Is your competition including monthly utilities and lawn or pool maintenance? What about kitchen appliances and a washer/dryer? Consider all of these factors and set a monthly rent that falls within the average asking range for comparable homes in your area.
- Promote your home to the masses. – According to the National Association of Realtors, most homebuyers begin their home search online. The same is true for renters. Post your home on your local newspaper’s website, community specific websites like Craigslist and national websites like www.rentals.com. If you’re working with a real estate agent or management company, they can also put your home into your area’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
- Screen potential candidates. – According to Ted Kimball, a California based attorney specializing in landlord/tenant law, there are three basic areas that landlords need to check: credit history, past tenant behavior and criminal history. “The best way to get good tenants for your property and protect your assets is to use a property management company,” advised Kimball. “But if you’re not interested in doing that, hire an objective third party to handle the screening of your tenants.”
- Rent with fairness. – Treat every potential renter you meet with the utmost respect. There are laws in place that protect renters if they feel they’re being treated unfairly. For example, the Federal Fair Housing Act identifies seven protected classes: religion, national origin, race, ancestry, sex, familial status and disability.
- According to the Federal Credit Reporting Act, if you turn down a potential tenant, you must provide in writing a reason why. For example, if it’s because of their credit score, let them know that’s why and refer them to the credit reporting company who provided the report for further information.
- Violating the Federal Fair Housing Act or the Federal Credit Report Act could mean huge fines – whether you meant to or did so by mistake. If you’re not using the help of a property management company or a real estate salesperson, review these laws carefully online and have your lease agreement reviewed by an attorney to protect yourself.
- When fixing the home, do construction, plumbing, electrical, windows and doors first. Second paint, Third clean and fourth do the flooring. If you paint first, fixing will scuff the paint. If you do the flooring before any of the other steps, it can get scuffed or dirty.