Renting your property may seem like an easy way to increase your passive income, but upon starting the process, you may find it to be more complicated than expected. Your house may sit on the market for months without a rental applicant because it is priced above the fair market rent. A bad tenant may be late or outright refuse to pay rent; they have the potential do thousands of dollars in property damage and may ignore your attempts to evict them from the property until authorities are involved.
So how can you avoid the headache of these common difficulties associated with renting a property? Here are five things to do before renting out your house to reduce the risk and stress of being a new landlord.
1. Take Photographs of the Property
Photographs of the property are necessary for several reasons. They are an important part of online advertising – otherwise favorable rental listings without pictures of the property are often passed over by potential tenants because they do not want to have to wait for a house tour to find out that the property does not have a layout or design that suits them. These photographs will also be helpful when your future tenants are moving out, as you can use them to measure any property damage that occurred during the rental period.
2. Assess Fair Market Rent
While it may be tempting to charge higher rent to make money back on recent renovations you may have done or moving costs from when you left the property yourself, the best thing to do is conduct market research: check with rental websites, newspapers, local landlords, realtors, and property management companies to determine the amount that properties of similar location, size and condition are renting for.
3. Create a Concise, Effective Rental Application
An effective rental application will not intimidate potential renters with its length, but will be comprehensive enough that it can be used for tenant screening purposes. Any additional information that you need from the tenant should they pass screening can be included in the lease documents. A good application will have spaces for the following items:
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number
- Phone Number
- Current/Previous Addresses (last 7 years, including landlord name(s) and contact information)
- Current Employer (name, address, hire date, income, contact information)
- Authorization to Obtain Consumer Report Statement
- Tenant Signature
4. Consider Using a Property Manager
Property managers will typically charge a percentage of the monthly rent for their services, but in exchange, they will take care of things such as finding new tenants, creating/signing the leases, collecting the rent, and issuing legal notices (including evictions). Hiring a property manager cuts down on the profit you will make from your tenants‘ rent payments, so you should carefully consider the cost-benefit of these services.
5. Find Good Tenants
Finding a decent tenant is easier said than done – many applicants can be friendly, polite, and will seem to be a good fit, but will create a flood of problems for you. The best way to improve the quality of tenants that you are leasing to is to conduct tenant background checks – that is, choosing tenants based on measurable fiscal and rental responsibility. Most landlords will charge rental applicants an application fee to cover the cost of tenant screening.