How to Rent Out Your House and Make Bank

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There are many reasons you might be one of the many homeowners wondering how to rent out your house: Maybe you’ve tried to sell your home but the market’s too sluggish, or you’re moving to a new area but want to hold on to your old property and rake in some income on the side.

Whatever the reason, it’s a good time to be considering this, because the rental market is hot: A recent study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that the rental market has been growing for the past 10 years straight, and the share of Americans renting is at a 20-year high of 35%.

But renting out your digs for the long term is a very different animal than the occasional stint on Airbnb. Here are some basic steps to take to get you started down rental road.

Determine how much to charge in rent

At the least, most newbie landlords want their rental income to cover their monthly mortgage, as well as taxes and insurance. Times may have changed since you bought, so you want to be clear on what the market will bear. Check rental properties on realtor.com® for the going rate in your area.

“Look for comparable properties in similar areas, with corresponding bedroom and bathroom counts,” says Realtor® Ed Laine, partner/broker of Miller Laine Properties in the Seattle area. “That will give you a per-square-foot rental figure that you can then apply to your own property.”

Screen tenants carefully

“Picking the right tenant can make all the difference and is one of the top ways to make your experience as a landlord a good one,” Laine says. You’ll want to check their employment history, credit history, and income (via pay stubs or tax returns), as well as references from past landlords if possible.

To add an extra layer of security, you can do statewide and federal background checks at places like the National Tenant Network, which has been screening tenants since 1980, to make sure potential renters don’t have a checkered history elsewhere.

Decide whether to manage your property yourself or hire help

It may be tempting to manage your property yourself when you consider that property managers typically charge 4% to 12% of the monthly rental. But that might be a small price to pay for avoiding headaches with your rental. According to a survey from property management firm Buildium, 62% of respondents mentioned maintenance and 5% cited tenant management as the two main reasons that rental property owners choose to hire property managers.

“I often suggest that my clients manage the first one themselves, which gives them a great education on their property and on being a landlord,” Laine says. “It also proves to them that management fees are nothing compared to a 3 a.m. call about a tree limb coming through a window.”

Pick the right property manager

Picking a property manager isn’t just about finding one with the lowest fees. Fees are important, but don’t let that be the sole deciding factor. For instance, what are the property manager’s hours? If they’re available only during weekday business hours and a pipe bursts on the weekend, you may get stuck with coming to the aid of your tenant yourself. What happens if rent isn’t paid on time—will they pursue the matter? If not, you may get stuck chasing down your money, which rather defeats the purpose of having a property manager at all.

Also make sure that the property manager—and you yourself—are committed to keeping up on local laws. Laine cites a recent case when the local municipality enacted laws that hold landlords liable for bedbugs.

“We updated our leases immediately,” he says. “The liabilities are too great to take a risk just to save a few bucks.”

Because at the end of the day, hired help or no, the buck stops with the landlord, literally.

Posted by Cathie Ericson on realtor.com

Beware the Bite: How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Your Rental

While no one wants to find pests in their apartment, the possibility of bed bug infestations keeps renters up at night. According to a recent survey by Orkin, 39% of renters said bed bugs are the pests they want to see the least in their homes, outranking all other pests.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Your Rental

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Bed bugs are a menace on the move. In 2013, Orkin reported a 20% increase in business due to bed bug infestations nationwide. The company also identified the ten U.S. cities with the worst infestations:

  1. Chicago
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Detroit
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Cleveland
  7. Dayton, OH
  8. Washington, D.C.
  9. Denver
  10. Indianapolis

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to treat once they make their way into your residence. The pests get into everything (not just your bed) and bite, causing painful welts.

Here’s what you need to know to deal with the growing problem.

Bed Bug Prevention

Many bed bug infestations come from bringing in used furniture where the pests have set up shop. If you live in a city with a known bed bug problem, avoid the temptation to rescue any “found” furniture. Bed bugs are so small you won’t be able to spot them.

However, if you plan to buy a used mattress or furniture, take these precautions:

  • Inspect the underside of the mattress or inside of the sofa for rust-colored stains. These stains are telltale signs of bed bug infestation.
  • Treat any fabrics with a commercial bed bug spray before you bring them into your home.
  • Purchase specialty mattress cases from a pest control manufacturer. Keep the mattress encased for several months to prevent bed bugs from spreading.

Bed bugs can also follow you home in a suitcase. If you’re traveling, these steps can help you reduce your risk:

  • Keep your suitcase away from the bed and off the ground.
  • Hang your clothes in the closet. Bed bugs can live in dressers.
  • Keep your accessories in a sealed plastic bag away from the floor.

Bed Bug Treatment

Treatment can be an expensive and lengthy process. Early detection is key to keeping your costs (and headaches) to a minimum. Develop a weekly or biweekly plan to check for bedbugs in your mattress and other furniture. If you spot a potential problem, tell your landlord immediately.

Bed bugs are resistant to most types of treatments. Over-the-counter bug sprays won’t be enough to end an infestation. You’ll have to hire a professional exterminator to get the job done. If you’re hiring an exterminator, look for companies with bed bug experience and a service guarantee.

Request quotes from different providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Exterminators know the physical and mental pain bed bugs bring, and less-than-honest professionals may attempt to take advantage of your desperation.

Once you’ve hired a pro, keep in mind that heavy infestations may take multiple treatments. You may have to stay away from home for a day or two while the exterminator works.

Working With Your Landlord

Don’t assume your landlord will foot the bill if your apartment becomes infested. In many areas, landlords are not legally required to provide pest control.

Check your lease, and if there’s no pest policy listed, negotiate with your landlord to create one. Ask for the updated policy to be in writing and signed by both you and your landlord.

This article was originally published by Angela Colley on realtor.com. See it here.

Keeping Your Landlord Happy: DIY Repairs in a Rental

If you want easy lease renewals, low-to-no annual rent increases and more freedom, you’ll want to make sure your landlord enjoys having you as a tenant.

DIY Repairs in a Rental

How do you make the landlord like you? Well, the key may be to leave them alone and tackle some DIY repairs yourself.

Landlords are busy people. They have other tenants and other demands on their time. When you inundate them with small maintenance requests, you make their job more difficult.

If you become known as a difficult tenant, they’re more likely to up your rent when the time comes. While you don’t want to make every repair yourself, you should limit your requests to necessities.

Here are some quick tips on when to contact your landlord—and when to take on DIY repairs.

Safety Issues: Contact the Landlord

Legally, your landlord has to provide a safe place for you to live. If your rental has any issues putting either your health or safety at risk, you should contact your landlord. Here are some examples of items you shouldn’t try to DIY repair:

  • Broken windows or door locks
  • Light fixtures or ceiling fans that spark or pop when turned on
  • Evidence of burning around light switches
  • Damaged electrical outlets
  • Malfunctioning or broken smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Leaking or broken appliances, cooling and heating systems

You also should ask your landlord to fix these problems as well:

  • Clogged gutters: removing leaves and debris from gutters is time consuming and can be dangerous.
  • Damaged door and window screens: since these will stay with the rental when you move, you should leave them up to your landlord to repair.
  • Roof damage: leaking or damaged roofs require professional repairs.
  • Rodent infestations: rodents can eat through walls and wiring, causing bigger problems later on. Let you landlord know immediately if you spot rodents in your rental.

Cosmetic Issues You Can DIY

Cosmetic issues are tricky. In most states, your landlord isn’t required to make cosmetic repairs, and while many landlords are happy to, you’ll get a bad rep if you contact them about every single blemish.

Try to limit your requests to substantial issues and fix the rest yourself if you’re able.

Here are some examples of DIY repairs you can take care of on your own:

  • Loose cabinet hardware: most drawer pulls and knobs can be tightened with a screwdriver.
  • Stuck drawers: if a drawer is just off track, remove the drawer, line up the tracking and re-install.
  • Liners for cabinets and drawers: hardware stores sell inexpensive, self-sticking liners for cabinets and drawers.

Routine DIY Repairs and Maintenance

Want to be your landlord’s favorite tenant? Then treat your rental like you own it.

The more you’re willing to do small DIY repairs and maintenance yourself, the more your landlord will appreciate having you as a tenant.

Here’s what you should do yourself:

  • Unclog toilets, sinks and bathtubs
  • Replace AC filters
  • Replace smoke detector batteries
  • Clean range hood filters
  • Clean refrigerator coils
  • Replace light bulbs

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. See the original article here

The Rental Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide

Looking for a new rental is a lot like applying for a job.

The Rental Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide

During a job interview you size up the supervisor and the position while the supervisor determines if you’ll be a good fit. When applying for a rental, you try to find out if it’s the right place for you as the landlord or manager sizes up whether you’ll be a good tenant.

Just as you wouldn’t want to go into a job interview without a well-polished resume, you shouldn’t go into a meeting with a landlord and walk-through unprepared. Having a rental resume to give your potential landlord will make a great first impression. Here is everything yours should include:

Objective

Most career resumes begin with a two- to three-sentence opener describing what the job seeker is looking for and what he brings to the table. Your rental resume should also start off with this information. To make your objective great, consider what you’re looking for in a rental, what your long-term plans are and why a landlord should rent to you. For example, a single male might say:

“As a young professional who works most days, I am looking to rent in a quiet neighborhood within commuting distance of my office. I am a responsible and quiet tenant with long-term plans to stay in the immediate area.”

Background

The next section of your rental resume should give your prospective landlord a brief background about you.  Landlords love to know a bit of history about their tenants and presenting all of this information upfront will help the landlord get a good picture of who you are. If you plan to live with friends, family members or pets, include a brief background for them as well. Your background section should have one or two sentences for each person who will live with you. Make sure you include:

  • Ages of everyone who will occupy the house.
  • Any college degrees earned by adults.
  • Job title and job location for any working adults.
  • Income per adult.
  • Breed, age and temperament of pets.

For example, your background may look like:

“Jane Smith, 31, graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in English. She currently works at Texas Instruments as a copywriter. Her annual salary is $40,000. When not working, Jane likes to read, knit or spend weekends camping.”

Rental History

Rental history is a huge factor for landlords in deciding which tenants to approve. If you have been a good tenant in the past, show it off on your rental resume. This section should include a bulleted item or short paragraph for each previous place you have rented, with the name of its landlord, the address of the property, the length of time you lived there and the rent amount. You will also score brownie points if you state why you moved from the property.

For example:

Woodlawn Apartments—Chris Brown, property manager

  • January 2010 to January 2013
  • Rent: $650
  • Reason for leaving: To upgrade to a larger apartment.

References

Many landlords prefer to lease to renters with at least one good prior reference. While you don’t have to include a written statement from each person, having two or more references listed on your rental resume will make things much easier for your landlord. Your supervisor, your previous landlords and even co-workers can serve as references. As long as the person agrees to talk to your landlord, include them on your rental resume. Make sure to include all the information your landlord would need such as:

  • The name of the reference
  • Your relation to the reference
  • The reference’s phone number
  • An email address for your reference

 This article was originally published by Angela Colley on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

How to Sell a House With Tenants

After 2008, many would-be home sellers couldn’t get the price they needed to sell. Or worse, their homes were underwater. And so, some homeowners were forced to become “accidental landlords.”

How to Sell a House with TenantsThis year, as the real estate market continues to rebound in many parts of the country, millions of homeowners will consider getting back in the market. But this time, they’re trying to sell a tenant-occupied home.

A tenant can make or break your sale. You have to plan well in advance and communicate openly with your tenant to have a successful sale. In some cases, you may even have to postpone it. If you’re the owner of a tenant-occupied property that you want to sell, you’ve essentially got two options. Here’s what you need to know about each.

 

Option 1: Wait for the lease to expire

Most real estate agents would argue that a seller should wait for the rental agreement to expire. Tenants can sometimes be a bit of a wild card in the high-stakes real estate game, so some agents feel it’s best to proceed after the tenant leaves. After that, make some cosmetic fixes to clean up the home and sell it vacant.

This may be especially important if you have a difficult tenant or one who is unhappy that their home is “being sold out from under them.” The last thing you want, is to make showing the home more difficult — and a disgruntled tenant could easily do that by mucking up paint or leaving his place a mess. The result is that your property looks less appealing to potential buyers, which can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.

On the other hand, selling a vacant rental unit isn’t always ideal for the seller’s finances. It can take months from the time the home goes on the market until it’s sold; that’s time during which the landlord receives no rent. This can be especially trying for sellers whose homes have been a long-term financial burden.

Option 2: Sell while the tenant is still there

It can be beneficial to keep your tenants in your home during the marketing and sales process, provided you have a good relationship with them. Homes show better with furniture, giving buyers a better feeling for what it would be like to live there.

Ready to sell but have a tenant in place? Do your best to work with them. Most tenants, upon hearing that the landlord would like to sell, immediately start looking for a new place to live. They’d rather just move on and not have to deal with keeping their home clean all the time, showings and phone calls from agents.

If your home is in a desirable neighborhood, you plan to price it right, and you believe it could sell quickly, use your tenant to your advantage. Lower their rent for a month or two leading up to the showing and/or selling. If you can get them to stay and cooperate through open houses and showings, tell them that you’ll guarantee them enough time to find another place and move. Also, if they’re helping you to get the home sold quickly, offer to help pay their moving costs.

Give thought to the message, delivery

Most tenants really don’t want to hold up your sale. Others will protest, and those are the ones who make the headlines or get talked about in real estate war stories.

If you have difficult tenants and suspect they won’t be cooperative, simply let the lease run out. Or find a way to legally take the home back and sell it vacant. But if you have a good relationship with your tenant, try to work with them. No tenant wants to be surprised with little (or no) notice that they must vacate.

Ultimately, the success of dealing with a tenant during a sale is less about the message itself, but in how the message is delivered.

This article was originally published by Brendon DeSimone on Zillow Blog. See it here

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor, a nationally recognized real estate expert and author of the book “Next Generation Real Estate.” His practical advice is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets including FOX News, CNBC, USA Today, Bloomberg, FOX Business and Forbes. An active investor himself, Brendon owns real estate around the U.S. and abroad and is licensed to sell in California and New York. Consumers often call on Brendon for advice and to help them find a real estate agent. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.