Landlord Guide: How to Rent a House
Renting a house can be a fulfilling and exciting experience. But there's far more to the process than finding a tenant and moving them in. Renting takes a lot of preparation and thought before you even accept a tenant, and even more responsibilities come once they move in. As you move through the process of renting your property, following a guide to being a landlord will help to make things as low-stress as possible.
How to Be a Landlord
Before you fully commit to being a landlord, you have to be sure you can dedicate your time and energy to the practice. Management skills and financial stability are essential parts of renting out any kind of room. There's far more to becoming a landlord than having open space to rent. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help you on your journey.
Some of the most significant landlord requirements and responsibilities are:
- Reading up on rental laws: Before you can write out an agreement or take on a tenant, you should have a detailed knowledge of rental laws. There are differences in every state and potential liabilities, and doing some research might help you prevent future challenges.
- Creating a thorough lease: When it comes time to craft a lease agreement, be as specific as possible. The wording should be easy to understand but explicit enough to protect you from liability. The lease should tell tenants what they need to know or do.
- Finding a reliable tenant: From the application process to final screening, you need to be sure you're renting to a responsible tenant. It's better to be as thorough as possible and have an empty space for a time than to rush and take on a destructive or disrespectful tenant. With a reliable individual or group of people, you'll have fewer worries about damages, disagreements or late payments.
- Hiring property management: Not every landlord has the time, money or know-how to self-manage a rental property. The good news is you don't have to. By hiring the right property management team for your needs, you'll lighten your load.
Tips for Being a Landlord for the First Time
Your first experience in being a landlord might seem daunting or stressful. While it's important not to underestimate the responsibility and time commitment required, renting out a house for the first time doesn't have to be a headache. These helpful tips will show you how to become a landlord with confidence:
- Get in a business frame of mind: Your first instinct might be to act as kind and accommodating as possible. But a friendly disposition might be more harmful than beneficial when it comes to renting a property. Remember, renting is the same as running a business. You need to be firm with your requirements and expectations. For example, if you accept a late payment without any penalty or allow the tenant permission to temporarily care for a pet on your property, you set a precedent that both are okay or that you'll be lenient again.
- Learn your local laws: One of the most significant parts of preparing a lease or renting is that you understand any laws that might affect you. You have to consider federal, state and local laws, as well as any housing and rental regulations. Knowing the rules beforehand will help you understand your liability, responsibility and what to do in specific cases, such as renting to an individual with disabilities.
- Calculate a realistic rent bill: The amount you charge for rent is important for many reasons. High rent could drive away potential applicants. Low rent might not provide enough for repairs if you need to perform any kind of extensive maintenance. To calculate a fair rate, you should take into consideration whether or not the property's mortgage is paid-off, what average rents in the surrounding area look like and how much you need to set aside for upkeep and unexpected maintenance.
- Be thorough with tenant evaluations: Finding your first tenant is exciting, but be sure not to jump at the first sign of interest. There are plenty of individuals looking for housing. In the U.S., almost 37% of households rent. Take your time and find a tenant who's a good fit for you and the property's neighbors. The better your relationship is with one another, the smoother the rental process will go.
- Conduct property inspections before each new tenant: Before you allow your first tenant to move in, it's crucial to take note of the conditions of each room in your rental house. Keeping a detailed record will allow you to accurately deduct repair costs from the tenant's security deposit if needed.
- Keep an open line of communication: Let your tenant know you're available if they have any issues with the property or their payments. If you maintain a positive relationship, they may come to you if a situation arises so that you can work it out together. Whether it's a small leak in the house or an incident that affects their pay, your tenant should know they can trust you enough to talk.
How to Rent Out Your House
Knowing how to become a landlord is helpful. But understanding how to successfully rent a house is just as crucial. There are several actions that every landlord should take while finding a new tenant.
1. Inspect and Prepare the Property
Before a tenant moves in, you need to be sure the property is up to legal standards. The best time to make any repairs or renovations is in-between occupants. Once you've fully prepared the property for a new tenant, you should perform an inspection. Take note of any existing damages and record the current state of the house. Having a record will help you figure out whether or not you need to use any part of the tenant's security deposit once they decide to move out.
Regardless of what you have available in your budget, you should advertise the house for rent. You can use social media platforms, listing websites, newspaper ads or flyers. The more you get the word out there that you have a house for rent, the more diverse your applicant pool will be.
3. Accept Applications and Interview Potential Tenants
Once you've advertised the house, you need to begin accepting applications. Create a thorough application that requires multiple valid references, place of employment and credit and background checks. When you have a new submission, be sure to thoroughly evaluate each check and call the references. Conducting an in-person interview will allow you to judge their character and let you see if the applicant is a good fit.
4. Create a Lease Agreement
The lease is one of the most crucial elements of renting any property. Every agreement should provide a detailed outline that includes all your terms and conditions, legal rights, tenant and landlord responsibilities and payment schedule. All tenants and renters should sign the lease and every party should receive a copy. If there are ever any issues or discrepancies in the future, the lease will serve as a reference of the contractual agreement.
5. Settle With a Tenant
When you settle on one or multiple tenants, make sure everyone signs the lease, pays the required deposits and understands their responsibilities and billing schedule. With the hard part out of the way, your residents can settle in and you can begin assuming your responsibilities as a landlord.
Tips for Renting a House for the First Time
First-time renting can be a lot of work. Here are a few tips to help make the rental process go more smoothly:
- Show the house at its best: Before you host an open house or allow potential applicants to take a tour, be sure to prepare the property. You want your rental to make a good first impression. If you're offering a furnished house, show it with all the furniture in place.
- Get the right insurance policies: Rental properties require a different type of insurance than the standard homeowner's policy. Rental home insurance, also known as fire insurance, covers your property's structure, medical and legal expenses and loss of rental income. Tenants should also invest in renters insurance to cover their belongings.
- Hire a reliable management company: A property management company will help minimize the work you have to put in on a regular basis. If you aren't looking to be a full-time landlord, outside management will minimize your stress while ensuring your property is cared for and your rent comes in on time.
- Be prepared to evict: No landlord wants to have to evict a tenant. But on the off chance that you have to, it's better to be prepared — especially if the tenant won't leave willingly. You may need to hire an attorney and take the case to court, which is one reason why it's essential to have your terms spelled out in the lease.
Learn More About Harrisburg Property Management Group's Services
Partnering with the right property management group will help you through the entire rental process, from finding a tenant to taking care of maintenance and repairs. Harrisburg Property Management Group offers you the reliability, professionalism and high-quality customer service you deserve. Our services include advertising, property maintenance, tenant screening, rent collection and professional advice from our experienced staff.
Make your first rental a success with Harrisburg Property Management Group — browse our site or contact us for more information.