People have different reasons for renting out their property. Some people are in the property rental business and own and/or manage a large number of properties. Other people need to move somewhere temporarily but want to keep their home for future use. Then there are people who are determined to sell their property—but only at a price the market is not willing to pay yet. For these people a great option would be to rent out that property for a while. After all, smart investors are buying up and renting properties quite deliberately because they realize that a rental home is not just an asset that can appreciate over time, but one that can also produce income at the same time. Rental prices are on the rise and why not take advantage of that?
Whatever your reason for renting out your property, it will most likely need some work to get it ready for the rental market and get top dollar. Preparations in the following areas should be considered before your rental hits the market:
1. Make the Necessary Repairs and Check All Safety Features
On the top of the list should be all heating, plumbing, and roofing issues. All other issues that could be considered safety issues should be addressed as well. Repairs made now will save you time and money in the long run, and will safeguard against increased damage and costs later. Be sure fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in place and have been tested, and double-check that all windows, doors, and locks are in good working order.
2. Clean and Add Curb Appeal!
Clean the house thoroughly, including closets, fixtures, and appliances. Replace dirty carpets, polish wood floors, and make sure that the grout in tile floors has been spruced up. Remove all debris and trash from the entire property. If a one-time rubbish bin rental is necessary, go for it. Where needed, give each room a fresh coat of neutral colored paint. On the outside, tidy up the lawn and landscaping and make sure that the property has curb appeal. Sometimes replacing a mailbox, front door, adding some color by displaying flower pots, or a coat of fresh paint, can make a huge difference.
3. Prepare Proper Documentation of Your Home and Its Contents
Plan to inspect and document your rental home before tenants move in; then once again immediately after they move out. This is imperative and will serve as documentation of damage caused by the tenant if that warrants withholding the security deposit for repairs. Photos, a checklist, and even a quick video can do the job.
4. Decide on Clear Leasing Criteria and Screen Your Tenants Thoroughly
Before you prepare a rental application, it’s a good idea to pin down the leasing criteria to help determine who will be qualified to become your tenant. Some common criteria to take into account are:
- No prior evictions
- Good credit
- No foreclosures or bankruptcies
- No criminal convictions
- No pets
- No smoking
- Good References
A quality tenant background check is a must. An online service like Houserie to do your screening for you makes a tenant background check a breeze.
But whatever your choices, do remember to follow the Fair Housing Act guidelines.
5. Get Rental Property Insurance (Landlord Insurance)
Landlord insurance is not the same as renters insurance, which covers the tenant’s property. A good landlord insurance policy protects you; it should cover everything from major damage inflicted by tenants to legal action they might take against you.
6. Prepare All Lease Documents in Advance
There are many basic lease agreements and other documents available online that can be downloaded. You can also have an experienced lawyer prepare (or just review) these documents. Other rental documents you might need include credit check authorization forms, move-in checklists, and any other notices you wish to post to tenants. These forms are all available online.
Preparing your property for the rental market is an important and critical step in the leasing process. Following some of the advice mentioned in this article will make the whole process a lot easier and will give you more bang for your buck. If this sounds like too much work, a property management company can handle some or all of it for you.