Renting Out A House For The First Time? Tips | Checklist | Questions To Ask & Things To Consider

  • By: Peter Parker
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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Being a landlord is challenging since it involves many responsibilities.

Starting from making the property ready for future renters to finding good tenants and paying taxes and bills on time, landlords have to spend their time and money at every step.

Moreover, landlords must be up to date with the prevailing real estate and business laws. They have to adhere to the laws and ensure that they uphold the rights of the tenets while protecting their own rights. 

Renting a house for the first time is an exhausting experience. Here are some tips for renting out a house. These tips help to make your job easier and safeguard your interests while earning income from your house. 

Tips for renting out a house

Be professional 

No matter whether you are renting out a single property or several properties, always remember that you are doing a business to earn extra income from your properties.

As a landlord, you have to adhere to all the federal, state, and local laws of the region and do good business. 

Always keep in mind that the tenant is your customer and being professional in your dealings with them is essential to ensure they take you seriously.

You have to be clear and cordial when interacting with your prospective clients to give them confidence and develop trust.

Before renting out the house, you have to ensure that the house is in good living condition and is a safe place for the tenants and their families.

Another significant aspect to run your business professionally is to make sure to be available for the tenants during emergencies and have a contingency plan to address them. 

Be meticulous while screening prospective tenants

The quality of your tenants determines whether you will profit from your investment or not.

Choosing responsible and trustworthy tenants is one of the most crucial tasks of a landlord. Good tenants not only pay rent on time but also take care of the house like it is their own property. 

You have to create a well-thought-out screening process to shortlist your prospective renters. Include factors such as income, credit history, eviction history, rental history, etc. in your checklist to qualify tenants. 

Once the tenant completes the rental application, always conduct a background check before making the final decision. One wrong step in selecting renters can make you regret becoming a landlord. 

Determine a fair rent

The rental rate of the property plays a crucial role in attracting the right tenants.

Fixing a too-high rent may result in you losing out on potential tenants as they feel the price is over the fair market rate of the locality. On the other hand, too little rent may result in losses. 

One way to fix the right rent price is to compare the rents of other properties in your locality. You can also use online rental calculators to find the fair rent of your property. 

Pay attention to your lease document 

The lease document is the final binding contract between the landlord and the tenant. The document should be clear and concise while spelling out the rights and duties of the landlord and the tenant.

You have to ensure that the lease document is well prepared and does not miss out on any significant details. 

First-time landlords can consult a reputed real estate attorney to get a proper lease agreement drafted. The language and terms of the lease document should be according to the housing laws of your state. 

The lease document should contain specific information about different aspects such as lawn maintenance, parking, pest control, pet clause, alterations and modifications to the property, usage of the property, subletting of the property, etc.   

Enforce the rules strictly

You have to be strict while enforcing the rules mentioned in the lease document. Otherwise, the terms will lose importance and the tenants might take advantage of your leniency.

For example, if the rental lease document mentions a late fee for not paying rent on time, you have to strictly enforce it.

However, you can be considerate when the tenants are going through some genuine problem and give a grace period. 

While ensuring the tenants follow the rules, you have to adhere to them too. Do not shy away from your duties mentioned in the document and follow all the rules, to set an example for your renters. 

Maintain records

As we have already discussed, renting out a property is akin to doing business. The landlord has to keep a record of all the transactions and communication with the tenants.

For example, you have to keep receipts of deposit, rent, maintenance, utility bills, and tax receipts. You must also have a record of important communication with the renters. 

These records are crucial to solve any legal issues if they emerge. They act as evidence to prove your claims in the court of law. You can either keep the original papers or have a digital record of all the transactions. 

Retain responsible tenants

Finding good tenants is a tedious job. The process of listing your property, screening prospective tenants, and finalizing the deal is time-consuming and involves cash outflow.

Once you have a tenant who is responsible and pays rent on time, try to retain them. Remind your renters about the renewal of the rental agreement in advance and be reasonable in increasing the rental price. 

Hire a professional property manager

If you find the process of renting out your house, reading up the housing laws, and screening tenants exhausting, or if you live far away from your rental property, consider hiring a professional property manager. 

A professional property manager can ensure that the process of renting your home goes on smoothly as they are experienced and have good connections.

For example, if the house needs a plumbing job, the manager can call a plumber in his network immediately and get the job done. 

The manager can ensure that the house is well maintained and find good tenants for the property. Property managers can charge a small fee or commission on the rental income. 

Renting out a house for the first time can be confusing and overwhelming.

All the tasks involved in the process right from listing the property to screening the tenants and making the house ready for the tenants are time-consuming and tedious.

However, if you handle the process well, you can earn a decent income from your house/flat. 

Renting a house for the first time checklist

Renting a house involves a lot of responsibilities for the landlord. Here is a checklist of tasks to be done before renting out the house for the first time. 

  • Get all the required permissions from your lender, local council and other civic bodies. 
  • Procure an energy performance certificate that showcases how energy efficient your home is.
  • Get safety certificates from the relevant bodies. Example, a gas safety certificate, electric safety certificate, etc.
  • Install fire detection equipment and carbon monoxide alarm in the house.
  • Ensure all the furniture and upholstery is fire resistant.
  • Get your landlord insurance and contents insurance to safeguard your property and yourself. 
  • Inspect the property and fix any problems to make it fit for the tenants.
  • Brush up your knowledge of the applicable local, state and federal  real estate and housing laws.
  • Check the tenants right to rent
  • Take steps to protect the tenant’s security deposit
  • Take pictures of the house before handing it over to the tenants
  • Create a Move-in and Move-out checklist for the tenants

Questions to ask when renting a house for the first time

If you want to benefit from your rental property and earn a decent income, it is crucial to ensure that you find the best tenants.

Tenant screening is a critical process for shortlisting the right tenants.

Apart from the routine background check, and checking the credit history and eviction records, here are some important questions to ask your prospective tenants. 

  • What is your potential move-in date? This helps to match whether the client requirement matches with the availability of the property.
  • Do you have pets or intend to have them in future? If you have a no animal policy, asking this question will help you to screen out applicants who have pets or intend to have them in near future.
  • Why are you moving and how long have you been in your present home? The answer to these questions will help to assess the motives of the tenant for shifting houses.
  • How many people will live in the house? Knowing how many people are going to occupy the house will help you to implement the legal limits on occupation of properties. 
  • What is your average monthly income? The industry standard is that the person should earn 3 times the rental price of the property. 
  • Were you ever evicted from a property? And if so, what is the reason? 
  • Have you filed for bankruptcy in the past? 
  •  Do you want to share anything before I run a background check for all the adults occupying the property? 
  • Are you ready to sign the one year lease? 

You can either ask these questions to your prospective tenants directly or create an online document like google forms and share it with them.

Asking these questions will help you save time and effort during the client screening process. 

Renting a house for the first time is a difficult chore for landlords, especially for the new landlords.

Following our tips will help you to make the process hassle-free while ensuring that you don’t miss out on any important steps.