9 Essential Items on How to Rent your Rental

Rent Your Rental

Want to know how to rent your house? Trying to rent my rental home was more difficult than I thought it would be. Rent your house faster and easier than I did with these valuable tips I learned about ‘renting your house.’

#1. How much can I rent my house for?

How much you rent your house for is key. At first I thought I should try to make as much money as possible renting my place. Well, in hindsight, I should have thought ‘try to get a good renter at a good price.’ I listed my place on the higher end of the price range and I ended up lowering the rent later to get it rented.

Look at different rental listing websites to see what the going rate is. Some good sites are: KSL (Rentler.com), Rentometer.com, and Craigslist.com. Just put in your zip code and basic features about your home. You’ll see what the range is. I’d recommend going in the mid-range.

When you first post your house on a rental site, it gets put right to the top of list. This is great because potential renters will see your house first. As time goes on, the property moves down the list because others continue to add their houses for rent to the site. I feel like my mistake was listing it in the high rental price range in the beginning. I lost this natural momentum in the beginning because of the higher rent price. I still had people come look at it, but they were able to find a comparable place for a lower rent price. Also, as the property moves further down the list, people start to easily think, ‘something must be wrong with that place for rent.’

By listing your house for rent in the mid-range, it opens up your potential renter possibilities. There’s a larger pool of people for you to choose from, which only enhances your ability to get it rented sooner (which is what you want – the passive income to start rolling in) and having more renter options to choose from.

 

#2. How should your home for rent look and feel?

You want a potential renter to feel welcome and be able to visualize themselves in your house for rent. Of course, getting the carpets cleaned and doing a deep cleaning is always recommended. A fresh coat of paint always helps as well. There are some extra things you can do to your home for rent to make potential renters feel more at home. For example, you can add curtains to a main window in the rental house. I put curtains instead of vertical blinds on my sliding glass door. It gave it a homier feel, plus they were much less expensive than vertical blinds (which can easily get broken). Staging the home a bit helps as well. I added a doormat out front, a mat in front of the kitchen sink and had an air freshener.  You could also get a fake plant to put on the patio or fresh flowers in the kitchen. Even a shower curtain, hand towels and a mat in the bathroom will dress it up a bit. You don’t need to put furniture or expensive items in your house for rent, just enough to give it a homier, more welcome feeling and that should do the trick. What other ideas do you have to make the house feel more welcoming?

#3. How to have someone contact you about your house for rent?

I recommend getting a separate phone number to list with your house for rent. I got a Google Voice Number. It’s free and easy to set up. The Google Voice Number automatically forwards to your current cell phone and you still get text and voicemail. You can also set up a greeting that states the details of your rental, i.e. how many beds/baths, move-in date, rent, deposit, pet policy, etc. If you’re like me and didn’t keep your spreadsheet up-to-date with every time you showed the place to be able to deduct your mileage on your taxes, you can easily go to your Google Voice texts/voicemails to see which days you showed your rental. It also helps you figure out who’s calling (well, at least if they are calling your real cell phone number or not) because when you answer your phone for your Google Voice number, it tells you it’s for your Google Voice number, so you could easily send them to your voicemail or take the call. Having a separate number makes things a lot easier and you don’t have to worry about weirdos having your main phone number.

#4. How to schedule showings for your house for rent.

Scheduling public showings saves you gas money and time and creates competition for renters. I did not actually do this, but I did have people come at about the same time – it creates a bit of urgency on the renters’ part and makes it convenient for you so you don’t have to drive back and forth all the time. You could schedule showings once or twice a week; make sure to schedule them when you think most people would be available to see your house, i.e. after normal business hours, Saturday mornings. Just post the showing times on the websites where you have your rental listed.

When I scheduled a personal showing with someone, I started calling or texting a little before the showing, just to make sure the person was still planning on coming (I had a few no shows before I learned this lesson, so don’t make my mistake, just double confirm to save on gas and not waste your time). When showing people your house for rent, be sure to repeat the people’s names and shake their hands; this way they know you’ll remember them when they submit the applications.

#5. Where should you advertise your house for rent?

You never really know where you’ll find the lucky renter, so my recommendation is to advertise your rental on all the sites you can think of. These are the websites I listed my house for rent: Rentler.com (KSL), Postlets.com (which is Zillow, this is great because they will post your listing on a bunch of other sites), Craigslist.com, and LDSHousing.net ($5).

Another way to advertise your rental is to put a ‘For Rent’ sign in the neighborhood and a sign in the window of the rental. I did not do this because my rental is a condo and the HOA doesn’t allow ‘For Rent’ signs (so be sure to check on any HOA rules), but it’s still another great way to advertise.

You could also advertise your rental on public bulletin boards, like at the grocery store, library, a church, or a coffee shop nearby where your rental is.

Make sure to keep all the rental info up to date. If you drop your price, change your pet policy, etc, make sure those changes are reflected on all the places you’re advertising.

#6. Should I do a background check and credit check for potential renters?

Yes, you should do a background check and a credit check for potential renters. It’s your house for rent and you want good renters. Some people won’t even apply if they know you’re doing a background and credit check, which is fine, because you want people that will pay their rent and not destroy your rental house. I used mysmartmove.com to do a background and credit check. It’s easy to use and you just need the potential renter’s email address. You can set it up to have them pay for application fee ($35) or you can pay for it yourself. I had them pay for it and if they passed then I reimbursed them on the first month’s rent. I thought it was worth it to have a background and credit check run, so I didn’t mind paying the fee after I found someone that was good. It’s up to you on how you approve or deny the applicants. If they had any evictions before, it was a ‘no’ for me. If they had credit issues in the past, but were cleaning up their acts, I may approve them. A lot of renters don’t have great credit, so I’d check to make sure they had consistently paid their rent on time and I’d put them as a possibility. Of course it’s your call, these are just things I looked for.

#7. What should you include in a Lease Agreement?

Get a good lease agreement. Don’t be caught with your pants down – protect yourself. Be sure everything you need is covered in the contract. There’s lots of options for contracts online, the one I used is with Utah Apartment Association. There are a lot of simple, basic things to include in your contract, like the duration, the rent amount, pet policy, maintenance policy, but I want to highlight a few things that may not be included in a basic contract.

Make sure your contract is set up so after the lease term ends there’s an extra charge for going month to month (if you are willing to go month to month). Also, make sure the extra monthly charge is enough that the renter would want to sign another contract, but not too much that the renter wouldn’t even consider going month (who wouldn’t want to make a little extra money for a few months?). But also remember to consider when the lease agreement would be up and if that’s a good time to try to find new renters (it’s usually easier to find renters in the warmer months, no one wants to be dragging their stuff up icy cold stairs in a foot of snow).

Be sure to include a late fee in the lease agreement. YOU have to pay your mortgage on time, so the THE RENTER needs to be paying you on time. I charge 25% of the monthly rent if it’s received after the 5th of the month. I’ve heard of others charging the late fee even when it’s one day late. It’s up to you, just make sure you stick with whatever you put in the contract.

When first signing the lease agreement, try to collect first and last month’s rent, along with the deposit, from the renter. Sometimes that’s hard, but it’s a safety net for you.

If you prorate the rent, it’s better to collect a full month of rent first, then discount the next month’s rent (if they aren’t able to pay it all at once). If there’s any problems, you’ll already have a full month’s worth of rent.

BONUS TIPS for after you’ve found renters:

#8. Should you do a walk through?

Yes! This one is easy to skip because you may not think it’s that important, but it is. Make sure to do a walk through before your tenant moves in. A walk through protects you and the renter. Get a form off the internet (Move In/Move Out form), print it out and do a walk through before the renter moves in. Write down any abnormalities (significant carpet stains, stove burner not working, etc), you sign it and have the renter sign it, then keep a copy for yourself and give one to the renter. When the renter is moving out, do another walk through with the same paper and note any abnormalities that the renter may need to pay for.

#9. How should you collect the rent from your renters?

The easiest way is to set up a PO Box where they can mail the check. This means they don’t have your home address (cause you don’t crazy renters showing up at your house) and you can also use the PO Box for a business address. It’s not that expensive, I set one up for about $50/year. It’s a good protection for yourself.

Alright, those are the main tips and lessons I wanted to share about how to rent your house. What did I miss? Anything you want to add, comment below.

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