With the real estate market still sluggish in many areas, you may have decided to take your home off the market and rent it out instead of wasting more time and money trying to sell. Others may decide to hold on to an inherited house and turn it into a rental property. No matter your motivation for becoming a landlord, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure your experience goes as smoothly as possible.
Check Everything for Safety
When you rent out a home, you open yourself to liability in case of an accident or emergency. While most renters will overlook a shaky banister or an electrical outlet that doesn’t work, a home without fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and an up-to-code breaker box is not ready to be rented. Take care of safety features to protect yourself and your tenants.
Establish What You Will and Will Not Accept
While it is completely unacceptable to discriminate based on matters of race or religious affiliation, it’s up to you to establish your own policies regarding pets, parking, smoking, whether or not the renter may plant a garden and whether the tenants may paint. Think these issues through and add your decisions into the lease agreement.
Consult a Lawyer for Your Lease
Plenty of landlords print off a random, template form they found on the Internet to have the tenants sign. This can buy you a truckload of trouble. In some jurisdictions, if one section of the lease is illegal, the entire document can become void. If your lease doesn’t address late fees or damage deposits for pets, your tenant may rightly refuse to pay them. It’s worth paying for one hour of a lawyer’s time just to make sure your lease is fair and legal.
Insure Your Property
Your homeowner’s policy might not offer enough coverage if you are renting out a house. Your tenants can insure their belongings through a renter insurance policy, but you will need additional coverage. Read the list of exclusions carefully and make sure you agree with the terms before you sign for the policy.
Consider a Residential Property Management Firm
If your rental is in Houston and you live in Dallas, who is going to drive over there at 3 a.m. when the toilet clogs? A residential property firm can handle everything from finding tenants to performing maintenance to collecting rent. If you’ve never been a landlord before or are nervous about repairs and maintenance, a management firm is an excellent solution.
Polish and Shine the Home
If you don’t have the time or energy to spend a day or two deep-cleaning the house, consider hiring a cleaning firm to give it a good scrub and polish. The house should be immaculate. If it’s dirty or dusty, potential renters may wonder what other maintenance you’ve let slip. Also, make sure the landscaping is tended.
If you’re considering renting out your house, these are just a few of the issues you need to handle before placing an ad. Be sure to do your research on every step of the process before proceeding to avoid any unpleasant surprises.