Help with How to Rent Out Our House

Updated on June 16, 2012
S.B. asks from Kiowa, CO
13 answers

We have purchased another property and did not sell our current home so we will be renting this home out.

Does anyone out there have any advice on how to go about this? Any tips that you could pass on? Anything anyone has learned that was something they wished another homeowner had passed to them when they rented out their home? Finding a "good" contract? Etc........

Anything will help as I have no experience with this at all. I wasn't planning on hiring a company to do this for me as I think I can handle it if I arm myself with the right knowledge.

Thank you all, every time I ask a question I get great comments/advice.

BTW, I live in Colorado.

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answers from Boston on

With my experience I would not rent my house. I would sell before I would ever do that again. good luck because we did not.

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answers from Raleigh on

We rented our home out before and about to do it again in 2 months. We do not hire a company, since we will be right do the road it works for us.
We check renters history /income and background check . We do not do credit checks . Many people have bad credit now days (ourselves included) , so we do not even bother , if income is acceptable and we like the people we will go with them. Last people we rented to had perfect credit but left out house in shambles.

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answers from Chicago on

Make sure you take a video of the walk through with the tenant. Shows condition of everything prior to rental. Include the new tenant stating that the walk through was completed with them. Decide if you are doing lawn care, snow removal. How much time needed for major repairs. Remember if it us 20degrees and the furnas breaks beyond repair...can you have on installed quickly so they are not inconvenienced? If they do not pay rent, do you have enough miney to survive the eviction and re rental process? Using a realtor will land you more search hits by qualified renters. Generally people who know they have poor credit look for independent renters.

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answers from Lakeland on

I strongly suggest that you get a realtor to rent it out. They do back ground checks and you know that anyone that uses a realtor will check out OK. We own several properties and the ones that we did not use the realtor ended badly.

You can create your own lease or have the realtor do it for you. Just be sure to go over everything with you tenants and put it in the lease. I use for my leases and it has all the state(s) laws.

If you have any more question you can PM me.

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answers from Dallas on

I agree that if you can afford the extra expense to hire a management company then definitely do so. If not, my biggest piece of advice is to do extra thorough background checks, employment verification, and especially call references or past landlords. My mother was a landlord and got burned several times because of those issues.

Good luck!

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answers from Great Falls on

We have 2 rentals and doing it myself hasn't been too much of a hassle. Here in Montana we have a Landlord's Association and for 60 bucks a year you can be a member and have access to all their lawyer created legal forms. I've used them all and they are great--Lease agreements, condition of premesis checks etc. I would check to see if Colorado has something similar. We have always charged a little more than the going rate because our places are really nice. I think you can tell just by meeting/talking to someone if they are going to be a good renter. Just trust your insticts. Both of our places are cleaned weekly by a cleaning service that kindly lets us know if anything is being ruined. But I would just schedule an inspection once a month for the first month or two, just to check in. Good luck:)

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answers from Boston on

Hi! Since laws are different from state to state the first thing you should do is seek out your state landlord association. They can give you the basic dos and donts.
First, last, month security. Really, all of it, upfront.
Do all the checks, take no excuses for anything. Beware of landlords lying. Check the place they lived before the place they are currently living in as that landlord might say anything to get them out.
Make them put EVERYONE who is going to live in the house on whatever agreement they sign. Then make sure it says no one else allowed.
Let them know you will be inspecting (you do have to give notice) and do it!
Go through the house with them and a camera so you can agree on existing damage later.
Who is going to maintain the yard? And how well and often?
No smokers, unless you smoke. Don't believe the "I only do it outside" story.
Make sure they know you are available to them if they have questions or problems. Let them know you care about house and want their tenancy to be enjoyable and drama free.
Be pleasant but firm. We've had tenants we've loved but we've had enough bad ones to learn the hard way that pleasant doesn't take you far...
That's all I can think of right now, I'm sure others have great advice.Good luck!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Having been both a renter and a landlord (with and without a manager), I strongly encourage you to find a good management company, pay them their cut, and let them handle your property. That way if there are problems, you have someone working for you who has experience dealing with tenants, who knows the legal ins-and-outs, and who often has access to contractors for repairs at prices significantly lower than those you can command as an individual.

If you do decide to go with a property manager, talk to several realtors/managers, and ask for references who use their services who you can talk to about them. Also ask everyone you know for recommendations. Be sure to find out the details of what services the manager provides.

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answers from Missoula on

we are in the same situation, but we are currently living in MT and moved from PA so we really are not around to do any maintenance work on the old house. We rented to friends from the church we attended. We had the house on the market for about 6 months before deciding to rent. Our realtor offered to draw up an agreement/ contract for us with the renters free of cost. It was for one year with the option to renew month to month after that. It has worked out fine. The neighbors say they don't keep up the lawn and flowerbeds to the same standards we did, but other than that, it seems to be working out fine. My advice is to try to find someone you already know and trust to rent out the house. If you have mutual friends, that will give the renters a little more accountability to you. Good luck.

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answers from Norfolk on

We hired a friend of ours (he is a relator with a law degree) as our property manager.
He writes iron clad rental agreements, and screens all prospective renters.
Since he is local to the property (and we are not), he is the person they call if the fridge breaks or water heater leaks, etc.
He also does the research to determine the amount of rent we should charge.
He's also had to evict people who were living there as subletters (which is in violation of our rental agreement).
If you're sure you want to do this yourself, you might want to get "Property Management For Dummies" and read it cover to cover.

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answers from Denver on

We have our realtor serve as our rental manager for a very reasonable price. He has contractors, maintenance and repair people, etc., whom he knows and who work with him who can do simple repairs, answer maintenance questions, etc.

If you manage your rental yourself, you will get calls at any time day or night from "how does the dishwasher work" to "the sink is clogged" to "water is gushing out of somewhere".

It is such a relief not to have to handle that. And our realtor does the credit checks, the contracts, the walk-throughs, the rent collection, makes sure the furnace filter is changed and the sprinkler system is blown out, all that.

As a private person, you may not have access to your tenant's rental history, credit history, etc

I would strongly suggest that as a first time landlord, you let a pro handle it.

We did much the same thing as you, moved and kept our previous residence but are renting it out until the market picks up.

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answers from Columbia on

A lawyer will probably only charge a few hundred for a lease. Well worth it when you add up the annual rent income.

- oh and do a credit check, background check, internet check etc. But the credit check is a necessity.

Interview and ask questions. How many living here? We came up with an "application" - asked pets, kids, income, last 2 jobs, last 2 addresses, current landlords phone number...bunch of stuff. Don't be timid - it's your largest investment that you're letting someone else take care of in your absence.

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answers from Albuquerque on

If you are able to make enough money to cover your bills AND afford a property manager, I would suggest that! In our area, they charge ~$200 for the tenant placement (ads, interviews, sign lease, etc). Then, it's about 10% (of the monthly rent) each month. For us, we couldn't charge enough in our area to cover our bills AND these fees... so we decided to go-it alone. Our first tenant was a real creep! Unfortunately, we ended up having to take him to court to have him evicted and he bailed on us, leaving us with a hefty bill (including some damages to the house)! Second tenant wasn't bad, but the girl was really flaky and ended up leaving after just 1 week (so we had to make the boyfriend leave, since most of their approval was based on her income and references). Now, almost at the end of our lease with tenants #3 and it's been pretty smooth sailing. I was hoping they'd renew, but they have some family things going on (grandparents moving in), and it's just not enough space for everybody.

There's a website called and it has links to some really good resources. Recent changes have been made on allowing potential landlords to pull credit reports... it's a little more complicated that it used to be...
Also, we bought software that has tons of useful documents (everything from sample leases to lead paint disclosure).
I've only been a landlady for 1.5 years, but I'm just here to say "it can be done." Not fun, not easy, but it is possible.
Keep in mind that in a lot of places the tenants have WAY more rights than the landlord, so you just have to keep everything professional, documented, and trust your instincts!
Good luck!

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