STEP 1: BASIC STEPS & DOCUMENTATION PRIOR TO ADVERTISING A RESIDENTIAL RENTAL PROPERTY
This is a basic checklist of important steps & documents for easy landlording to assemble PRIOR to advertising a residential rental property:
- OWNERSHIP - keep documents together showing who owns the property, who signs all documents and/or agreements, who signs checks, etc. This should be in writing so it's clear who is responsible for what and when. If the property is owned by an LLC or other legal entity, keep operating agreements handy for quick reference.
- POLICIES - important policies must be established PRIOR to advertising a property for rent. Policies such as:
- Screening Criteria - This is not a time to experiment with new ideas or suggestions you heard from your buddy who claims to be a savvy investor. Research and consider having an experienced landlord attorney review your policies for potential violations of fair housing laws and landlord tenant laws.
- Animals & Pets - Please remember, applicants with service animals, companion animals and/or emotional support animals CANNOT BE CHARGED ANY ADDITIONAL FEES during the application process or during tenancy.
- Showing Plans - Are you going to do a basic phone interview first? What questions are you going to ask?Are you going to show the house alone? Are you going to show the house any time a prospect wants to view the property? What potential problems can you think of and is it possible to avoid those problems? What times of day will you show the house? Will you walk through the house with prospective tenants or simply let them in the door? Your safety matters most, so plan carefully.
- Contact Information - What phone number and email will you use? Do you want prospective tenants knowing how to reach you? What happens if you deny them? You can create a special number only given during the application and showing process to minimize your exposure.
- BANK ACCOUNT - open a bank account purely for the income and expenses related to the rental property. This will help keep you organized throughout each year and make tax time much easier.
- INSURANCE - discuss with your insurance agent about your plans to rent your property. Review the policy as there are differences between a homeowner policy and a landlord policy.
- LEASE DOCUMENTS - NEVER create a lease on your own without having an experienced landlord attorney review it. Consult with your reputable landlord association for appropriate lease documents. Annual memberships are often very reasonable and provide you with well-written lease documents and instructions on how to use them.
- RENT READY CONDITION - Your property should be nearly rent ready, be appealing and be safe to anyone to view their property. You could lose ideal tenants if they come view the property and it's too dirty or too many repairs not yet completed.
- TAKE GREAT PHOTOS - A few great photos do wonders for attracting great tenants. If you have a hard time hanging a picture on the wall straight, ask a skilled friend or a professional photographer to take photos for you.