Landlords: A Step-by-Step Guide to Renting Your Property
Being a landlord means that you will need to take on a wide range of responsibilities — from maintaining the rental property to managing relationships with tenants. While being a landlord may require a lot of time and preparation, it can also be rewarding and provide a source of income to help you prepare for the future. If you’re getting ready to rent out a home, follow these five steps that may help guide you through the process.
1. Prepare Your Property
Before putting your place up for rent, you’ll want to make sure it’s in safe and proper condition for tenants. Some things you may want to put on your checklist include cleaning carpets, inspecting and cleaning windows, replacing appliance filters and freshening up landscaping, says Zillow. If there are any repairs to be made, such as fixing broken window screens or tuning up a furnace, be sure to take care of them before a tenant moves in. It would also be a good idea to contact your insurance carrier to see if you will need landlord insurance.
2. Set Rent Costs and Advertise
Once your place is ready, it’s time to determine monthly rent charges. Begin by comparing your property to others in the surrounding area and get to know the local market, says Zillow. Does your house have more upgrades, a laundry room or a garage, while others don’t? These types of features may allow you to charge a slightly higher price.
You’ll also want to start marketing your home so that renters looking for a place to live can see it’s available. Utilizing rental websites or social media may be a good place to start. Or, you could consider placing a listing in local newspapers or post flyers on local bulletin boards, says The Balance. Be sure to call out any details in your listing that may help draw in the right tenants. This may include how many bedrooms and bathrooms your place features or if pets are allowed — and don’t forget to list your contact information or a link to an application.
3. Find And Choose A Tenant
As you start receiving inquiries and applications, it may be a good idea to screen interested tenants by interviewing them, says Trulia. This may help you determine how well you get along with the potential tenants and what any future interactions might be like. Don’t forget to ask for references, including landlords they may have worked with in the past, says Zillow — and you may also want to ask prospects if you can run a credit report or background check to ensure consistency with their application.
After selecting a renter, you should have them fill out a lease agreement, collect a security deposit and complete a walkthrough of the rental property. Using a walkthrough checklist may be a good idea, as it allows you and the tenant to note any existing issues or imperfections at the property prior to their move in, says Zillow. This may help you hold the tenant responsible for any new damage that might occur while they are living at your property.
4. Act As A Landlord
It’s now time to exercise your landlord responsibilities to ensure your property remains habitable for tenants. This means you may need to pay for major or minor repairs that arise, says Realtor.com. For example, if your tenant alerts you to a broken furnace or leaking pipe, you will be responsible for paying repair costs if the issue was not caused by the tenant. You may want to consider establishing an emergency fund for repairs so you’re prepared for the unexpected.
Being a landlord may also mean that you need to enforce timely rent payments. So, if your tenant falls behind on payment, that may require you to send out late payment notices or collect late fees, says Zillow.
5. Move Out Tenant
If your tenant does not renew their lease, there are some final steps you should take as they move out. If you completed a walkthrough checklist before they moved in, now is the time to pull it out and complete a move-out inspection using that same list, says Zillow. Doing so may help you determine if any damage to the property was caused by the tenant and if you’ll need to discuss any potential deductions from their security deposit. Keep in mind that the requirements and timeline for completing a move-out inspection and returning a renter’s security deposit may vary by state, so be sure to check your local laws, says The Balance.
Being a landlord comes with some responsibilities that may be new to you. While this checklist covers some basic steps you may need to take, be sure to take time to determine a plan that works best for your situation before listing your property for rent.
Originally published on March 20, 2016.