There are many reasons to become a landlord. Maybe you have changed jobs, maybe you are having difficulty in selling your home or maybe one of your elderly parents has moved into a facility and you're not sure what to do with their house. Whatever the reason, here you are looking for a tenant. The tips below may be of some help on this new endeavor of yours.
How will I know that I have found the right tenant for the house?
Well, you don't want to rent to just anyone. The first step is to perform a credit check, this alone can sometimes rule out an applicant that has a hard time paying their bills on time. You can also perform a legal background check as a back-up. Some may advise you to seek personal references, but it's pretty easy to have a friend write a nice letter about you. So, I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in personal references. Another idea may be to use the applicants address to contact their current neighbors and see what they have to say. They would be the best references on what kind of neighbors your applicant makes.
Ask the applicant for their current landlords contact information and be sure to use it. Find out the current situation with the applicant through their landlords eyes, and always meet with the applicant in person.
What do I do to get the house ready?
Congratulations! You have a found a tenant and are preparing for them to move into the house. Clean up your home thoroughly and make it as safe as it can be, to avoid any unnecessary lawsuits and provide a safe and happy home for your new tenants. This is also a good time to get to all those unfinished home improvement projects that you have been putting off, and finish them. It is common that a tenant will leave those things and sometimes that can create bigger problems down the road. It's best to get those done ahead of time.
Should I do an Inspection?
Absolutely! When your new tenant arrives to inspect the home before moving in, do a walk-thru with them and take pictures of everything, inside and out. A quick shot of each room, is not going to be enough. Take pictures of the walls, the carpet, the counter tops, the furniture (if you plan to rent furnished), the outside paint. Once all the pictures have been taken have your tenant sign each one.
Another great tip is to provide a little baggie full of "approved" nails, screws and picture hangars and be sure to list them in the lease.
What about the outside of the house?
The outside of the house is just as important to go over with your new tenant as the inside. Who is in charge of the lawn maintenance? Can the outside of the house be painted? What about neatness? You probably don't want the outside of your home looking like Fred Sanford lives there.
You also want to be sure you have any un-safe branches or trees cut back. Check the health of the trees, to insure that they won't fall on the house during a storm. Better to remove them now.
Are there any things that I should plan ahead for?
Planning ahead is always recommended for any new endeavor. Keep a calendar to make sure that any repairs or upgrades that you have promised the tenant can be done in a timely manner before they move in.
Leave a little Welcome Package that contains any local information like pizza delivery, theaters and night life in the area. Also keep any other details, including your contact information, or requirements that you may have for your new tenant in the package.
Being a landlord does not mean you just sign the lease and disappear, stay involved, the tenant will appreciate it. But not TOO involved, the tenant will appreciate that too!