When you bought your home, the idea of becoming a landlord might have been in the plan, or a distant back up if you couldn’t sell it. Now, as PCS season approaches, it’s time to get organized with these must-have tips, tools and resources for the new military landlord.
It can be a scary thought – renting out your home to someone else and being responsible for managing it, usually from far away. There is no doubt that there are challenges associated with becoming a landlord… but there are also some incredible tools to help you along the way. Let’s start from the beginning – what do you do first when you’ve decided to rent your home after you PCS?
Listing Your Property
If you want to rent your home, you have to list it. Sounds simple, but there is a little bit more to it than simply filling out an online form. Before you list your home on sites like AHRN.com, there are a few things that need to be taken care of. Start by researching your state’s laws. Every state has unique requirements of rental property owners (like Texas requiring that every rental home have a deadbolt that can only be unlocked from the inside). Knowing the state requirements and bringing your home into compliance before you start the listing process will make the renting process less hectic.
Once your home is ready, you’ll need to take great photos showcasing what makes yours a wonderful home in which to live (or hire a photographer to do it for you). Having great images is a key way to attract potential tenants to your listing, and getting a pool of great applicants helps ensure you can choose the best fit! An effective listing also includes an accurate and appealing description. Don’t forget to include local conveniences, short cuts to popular destinations and main roads and details about the local schools. With all that ready, it’s time to create an account on AHRN.com and post your free listing! If you need to rent your home quickly, consider utilizing one of the AHRN.com upgrade options to get more eyes on your listing.
Selecting A Tenant
Your listing is up, and potential tenants are contacting you. How do you decide who is the best fit?
Start with tenant screening. AHRN.com partner EZlandlord Forms offers simple SafeRent screening for less than $35. SafeRent is so confident in their tenant risk scores that they will pay you double your tenant screening costs if your tenant receives a “Moderate Risk” or better score, and the tenant is evicted within 13 months. You can also find all the forms you’ll need with state specific recommendations.
Managing Your Rental Property
You’ll need to decide if you want to self manage your property or hire a property management company. Both options come with pros and cons. The distance you’ll be living from your property, whether you have someone local to keep an eye on things and your experience level with rental properties are all factors to consider.
Be Prepared For Tax Time
There are some tax benefits (deductions) that come along with renting out even one property. On the other hand, you’ll also have to stay very organized! Keep and file every piece of paper related to your rental property from the beginning. Receipts, documentation of services provided and correspondence with your renters all need to be filed where you can find it if needed.
Our Favorite Resources
EZ Landlord Forms: From rental applications to lease agreements to tenant screening, EZLandlordForms.com offers the first time landlord a one stop shop resource for getting started right.
The Reluctant Landlord: Written by a military family who owns and self-manages seven rental properties, The Reluctant Landlord is excellent source of on-the-ground information!
Where do I start?
- You’ll need an application for potential renters to help you screen for the best tenant for your home. We recommend EzLandlordForms.com for a simple, straight forward option.
- Choose a method for conducting a background check on applicants.
- Decide if you will hire a local property manager.
- Create your listing on AHRN.com with a great listing description and good quality photos.
- Call your insurance company/agent. You will need to switch your home to a landlord policy.
- Set up a record keeping system – decide how you want to file and store all of your records.
- Ensure that your home meets your state’s requirements for rental homes.
- Start checking out your applicants!