Landlord’s Guide to Renting Out a House | TransUnion SmartMove

Taking on the character of “ landlord ” is no small task. Renting out a house comes with its fair contribution of responsibilities and challenges, specially when you consider that being an freelancer landlord may not be your full-time job. There ’ s enough to contend with : market your rental, getting good tenants, tracking down lease payments, addressing tenant issues, staying on circus tent of maintenance, covering expensive tenant vacancies and in some cases dealing with dearly-won tenant evictions .
While there are a bevy of challenges, the investment and feat might be worth it for respective reasons :

  • U.S. homeownership percentage is relatively low by historical standards
  • More renters are in market to drive higher demand for rental units
  • With higher demand for rental housing, landlord ability to command higher rents

This lead, along with comprehensive examination background checks from SmartMove, you can help you more well :

  • Generate supplemental monthly income
  • Diversify your investment portfolio
  • Get started in the lucrative real estate industry

People are renting. A draw of people. Landlords are in a good spot mighty now. Homeownership rates are hovering around 65 % versus 69 % in 2005. There are more renters in the market which equates to more demand for rental house.

Homeownership rates are lower now than in previous years
Another vogue attractive to landlords is higher rents being charged. According to Zillow, lease prices in the U.S. are about constantly on the surface. Aggregate rents have jumped from $ 1,306 in September 2011 to $ 1,594 Jan 2020 .
zillow rental index
Choosing to rent out your place can provide a bevy of benefits :

  • Monthly income: Finding high-quality renters who pay rent on time means securing consistent rental income that can supplement your monthly income and savings.
  • Long-term financial security: Landlords can invest in real estate and use renter payments to pay off the mortgage, providing long-term wealth outside of rent cash flow.
  • Tax deductions for landlords: All rental income is taxable, but landlords can take advantage of certain tax deductions when tax season rolls around.

With the correctly foresight, plan, and preventive measures in home, renting out a house can be a lucrative enterprise. Consider these tips to help protect your investment and solidify your lease income .

Rental Unit Costs and Expenses

Whether you own a second home or are looking for a roommate to share the cost of your mortgage, you have a good chances of generating recurring extra income when you bring on a tenant. To be successful, it ’ mho all-important to understand your budget and the fiscal risks that can be associated with this venture .
Before placing your home on the rental grocery store, consider these kinds of expenses :

  • Mortgage
  • Insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Repairs, upgrades and regular maintenance

Understand the Responsibilities of Renting Out a House

Renting out a firm means will involve taking on a great deal of province. Before taking on this undertaking, ask the take after questions :
responsibilities of renting out your place

  1. Do you have the time to commit to managing a rental property?

Becoming a landlord can become a full-time occupation. You will most likely have to market your property to attract renters, conduct property tours, tend to maintenance issues and more. If this extra province international relations and security network ’ thymine accomplishable, you may want to consider hiring a property management company to assist you .

  1. Are you able to make repairs yourself or will you hire a professional?

Renting out a sign of the zodiac means inevitably dealing with common landlord care issues, such as pest control, urine damage, or gutter sustenance. If your rent stipulates that you are responsible for such issues, and you are ineffective to handle these tasks yourself, then you ’ ll need to hire contractors to resolve these matters in a timely manner .

  1. Do you understand your state’s landlord-tenant laws?

As a landlord, you must comply with local, express, and federal regulations that pertain to when and how your tenant can occupy your rental property. Understand your rights as a landlord and research the rights of your tenants. many different landlord-tenant laws govern the way you can select, shield, and interact with tenants, including :
Read up on landlord-tenant police in your area with a state-by-state status tool and be certain to speak with legal rede regarding your responsibilities as a landlord .
Pro Tip: For more insights on what it takes to be a landlord and the challenges that could be ahead, it may be helpful to check out landlord forums such as BiggerPockets to gain real insight from landlords in your area or visit your local substantial estate association to learn about the rental market in your city .

Prepare the Rental Property

It ’ s authoritative to ensure that your rental property is tenant ready—especially with tenant demand closely vitamin a high as it ’ sulfur ever been. As a landlord, you ’ re discipline to the Implied Warranty of Habitability, which states that tenants have the right to a livable rental premises. This standard is broadly determined by local construction codes and express statutes, which specify essential live requirements such as water, electricity, and early amenities .
As you prep your lease home for a tenant, think beyond the basics. If you want to increase your rental income and attract high-quality tenants, then you ’ ll want to examine what drives the modern renter to sign a lease. Take your time to research amenities renters are seeking, and consider what you can do to update or upgrade your rental property while remaining within your budget .
Pro-tip: Consider your localization and what kind of renters your rental home might attract. For exercise, if you are near a university, then your home most-likely will attract college students and you might consider installing something like a rain sheltered bike rack .
Adding amenities or provisions to help your rental home stand out from comparable properties may help you command premium rents or pull in better-quality applicants. Some of the top amenities renters may be looking for, include :

  • Open floor plan
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Closet space/storage space
  • Natural light
  • Central air conditioning

Read more about the amenities tenants want and determine what you can do to upgrade your rental home to help increase your rental income .

Do Your Research on Fair Market Rent

Determine fair market value for your rental unit
once your house is move-in ready, you ’ ll motivation to settle on a lease rate. Selecting the right number can be challenging. The right rent price can mean the deviation between expensive vacancies and choice, long-run tenants. It ’ randomness imperative you gauge the market rip in your area .
To understand what you can practicably make from your rental home plate, you ’ ll indigence to do an adequate sum of market research. Landlords must understand how to determine average grocery store rent. Market rend refers to the amount of money your lease property can command at the current time. While the HUD offers home grocery store rent rates, keep in beware that market lease can vary greatly by city, and deviate even further by neighborhood .
To determine accurate fair commercialize rent for your rental home, you must consider what other landlords in your area are charging for comparable properties. Look at rental homes that are like to yours—same size, like neighborhood, same condition. You might consider using a site like Rentometer or Craigslist to well compare your rend with other local properties .
You may find you ’ re able to charge a slenderly higher lease if your place has amenities that other houses in the vicinity don ’ triiodothyronine, like a driveway and garage, for example. If you ’ ve taken the time to enhance your rental property with any of the amenities mentioned above, factor them into your pricing equation .
Some helpful tips to determine fair grocery store rent, include :

  • Checking in with local real estate agents
  • Browsing current rental ads
  • Talking to other property managers or landlords
  • Using online rental comparison tools

Learn more about setting the right rental rate to ensure you ’ re hitting the rent odoriferous spot and making the most of your rental property investment .

Connect with Prospective Tenants

once the house is ready and you ’ ve settled on a rent rate, it ’ sulfur time to start looking for prospective renters. Choosing a tenant is the most important decision you can make as a landlord. Selecting the incorrectly renter could mean neglect rental payments, expensive and nerve-racking eviction processes, and dearly-won vacancies. In a TransUnion survey, 84 % of landlords said requital problems were their top concern, followed closely by having to evict person .
presently, landlords have plenty of prospective tenants to choose from, but this doesn ’ triiodothyronine entail every applicant qualifies as a bang-up tenant. According to Pew Research Center, more U.S. households are renting than at any distributor point in the survive 50 years, for an array of reasons. Throughout 2018, non-homeowners were asked why they didn ’ metric ton presently own a dwelling .
top reasons included :

  • Can’t afford to buy a home
  • Current life circumstances are not suitable
  • Currently need the flexibility of renting rather than owning
  • Don’t want the responsibility of owning

Illustration showing reasons why non-homeowners didn’t own a home in 2018
According to NMHC data, there are presently over 108,500,000 people in rental housing. With such a firm rental market, landlords do still have their woof of tenants ; however, it ’ mho important to attract the right applicants .

1. Set Your Renter Criteria Upfront

You should have a clear idea of your ambition tenant before creating your lease list. Setting tenant criteria can help you determine what you want, allow you to set your expectations upfront, and enable you to tailor your screening efforts .
Renter criteria varies by landlord, but hera are some authoritative aspects to consider :

  • Applicant must make a gross monthly income 3x the monthly rental rate
  • Applicant must provide a rental history report
  • Applicant must have a clean relevant criminal record

The above are great starting points, but you should tailor yours as needed. Keep the same renter criteria in mind across all applicants to ensure objectivity. Keep in mind, it ’ sulfur important that you abide by any federal and state laws when choosing your tenant .
Pro Tip: The more detail you are with tenant criteria, the better chance you have of attracting high-quality applicants that fit your wants and needs .

2. Create an Eye-Catching and Transparent Rental Listing

create a good rental advertisement
To find a great tenant, cast a wide net—your lease list can significantly influence the number of rental applications you receive. Use these tips to write a great lease listing :

  1. Highlight amenities and differentiators: What makes your house worth renting over comparable properties in your neighborhood? Use your rental listing to paint your property in the best light possible. Highlight the key differentiators that may pull in tenants, whether it’s new stainless steel appliances, free high-speed internet, smart home tech, or new flooring. RentCafe put together a list of the terms renters searched most in 2018.
  2. Explain renter requirements: Your rental listing should also clearly indicate what is expected of applicants. Examples of renter requirements might include:
  • Submitting a rental application
  • Providing at least three landlord references
  • Completing a full tenant background check
  • Covering cost to apply for the rental unit
  1. Use bright photography and video: You know the old saying: A picture’s worth a thousand words. Investing in professional photography could help you garner the attention of high-quality renters and the upfront investment may be worth it to place the right tenant in your property. If hiring a professional photographer is outside of your means, then ensure that the unit is clean and try to take pictures using natural light.

    You might also consider providing a video or 360-view of your rental unit to give prospective renters more feel for what your rental unit looks like without having to be present. Doing this could help to weed out unqualified tenants and save you time.

  2. Get as much exposure as possible: Once you’ve crafted the perfect ad, get your rental listing in the following spaces to expand your reach:
  • Online listing sites such as Hotpads, Craigslist, or
  • University housing boards
  • Social media
  • Renting bulletins
  • A “For Rent” sign on your property

Pro Tip: Keep peak rental season in take care before renting out your house and learn about the best prison term to post your lease list to draw in more applicants.

Ask Important Screening Questions

first impressions can play a key function as you begin screening tidal bore prospective tenants. Your first interaction may help you spot any tenant red flags that can help you decide whether to continue the screening process .
Consider asking these tenant screening questions to help learn more about concerned renters :

  • Are you willing to authorize a complete background screening?
  • Have you ever been evicted?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a relevant crime?
  • How many people will live in the rental home?
  • Do you have pets?

4. Collect a Rental Application and Rental History Report

If an applicant passes your initial pre-screening and wants to apply, it may be best to require both a rental application and rental history reputation. You can find rental application templates online, source from local anesthetic real estate associations, or create your own .
Note: Your application should clearly indicate the above information to be considered and must besides provide proof of income and authorize a complete tenant screen. After receiving applications, do a preliminary revue. important information can be gleaned from what a prospective tenant provides in their lease application :

  • Sufficient income: Does your tenant make enough to cover the monthly rent? Ensuring your tenant has stable income can help ensure that you’ll receive your rental income on time, every time.
  • A healthy credit history: A healthy credit history can be telling, as it may help determine if an applicant has a history of paying bills on time. This can be indicative of whether or not they’ll pay rent on time each month.
  • Relevant criminal background: As a landlord, you are responsible for keeping your property and neighborhood safe. A criminal record could be a predictor of tenant issues later on.

As mentioned, you should besides require that applicants provide a rental history report ; that means, you can conduct a landlord address match. A rental history report consists of a list of former addresses that they ’ ve rented from. This report should include the contact information of the landlord or property director at that respective address. If your tenant doesn ’ t have rental history, then you may consider other pieces of information, including proof of employment, paystubs and income tax returns .

Conduct Reference Checks

Perform landlord citation checks to ensure the information listed on both the rental application and rental history report are compensate. While it ’ sulfur encouraged to conduct a entire tenant riddle, that won ’ metric ton order you how a tenant will treat you or your property. A landlord character can help provide insight into your tenant ’ sulfur behavior and intentions .
Landlords much want to trust their gut when screening applicants, but it ’ sulfur crucial to take the time to ensure you have the most accurate information available. A 2016 SmartMove surveil reports 86 % of landlords verify an applicant ’ second data, and this important extra step can help you gather what you need to make a intelligent decision .
Pro Tip: When contacting previous landlords, call multiple references to ensure you have a more complete horizon of your tenant. current landlords may be incentivized to get a bad tenant out and provide less than accurate reviews of tenant behavior .

Perform a Full Tenant Screening

It ’ randomness all-important you constantly perform a wax tenant screening on prospective tenants—inform yourself when your rental income is on the agate line. For the best insights, we highly recommend you get a :

  • Full credit report with ResidentScore
  • Income Insights report
  • Criminal record report
  • Eviction history report

Tenant Credit Check

The information contained within a credit reputation can help you predict whether a prospective tenant can pay rent on time—or at all .
All SmartMove credit rating checks come with ResidentScore, which is only available at SmartMove and predicts evictions 15 % better than a traditional citation score. ResidentScore uses over 1,000 variables to score electric potential tenants. This allows landlords to better predict risk when renting out a theater to a prospective tenant .

Income Insights Report

It ’ sulfur board stakes that the tenant needs to have adequate income to afford the lease whole. The number one concern among independent landlords in the United States is non-payment of rent, according to TransUnion SmartMove data. Given that evictions can cost a landlord $ 3,500 on modal, it pays to ensure applicants will be able to cover the price of lease each month .
Using a rent-to-income ratio could be helpful as a heuristic to determine if your potential tenant can afford the rent. The rule of hitchhike is that the applicant should make at least three times arrant monthly income to cover lease expenses .
The mathematics looks like this :
monthly Rent X 3 = Minimum monthly rental income
For example, if the economic rent on an apartment costs $ 1,000 per calendar month, then the applicant must gross a minimal of $ 3,000 per calendar month in income. The mathematics :
$ 1,000 X 3 = $ 3,000
While these ratios are considered to be diligence standard, they may not work in all markets. In reality, closely half of renters spend more than the 30 percentage standard, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University .
therefore determining if your applicant can afford the rent is significant and our customers think as a lot. fifty-nine percentage of respondents to a 2016 SmartMove user review said they care more about a tenant having steady income than a former credit history .
landlord survey on prospective tenants
While a tenant should provide proof of income, landlords must verify that the reported information is accurate—that ’ s where Income Insights comes in, from SmartMove. By analyzing information from your applicant ’ mho credit report, Income Insights estimates the prospective tenant ’ s ability to handle their stream debt. If the applicant ’ mho self-reported income does not align with the Income Insights estimate, then it is recommended that you request extra income confirmation .
Income Insights allows you to :

  • Save time and effort verifying income
  • Reduce risk of renter payment problems
  • Approve an applicant more quickly

Read more about Income Insights and learn how you can use this SmartMove report to help rent your family to the right tenant .
criminal Record Report
When renting out a home, you have a province to protect both your place and neighborhood. Landlords should run criminal background checks on all prospective tenants .
When you use SmartMove for on-line tenant background checks, you ’ ll receive a criminal history report that includes search results from hundreds of millions of records, dozens of databases and many Most Wanted lists .
Note: A strike on a condemnable record doesn ’ t inevitably disqualify an applicant, as crime types can vary. Take a look at the breakdown of both place and violent crime in the United States below .
Crime in united states chart

Eviction History Report

The eviction process can be time-consuming, nerve-racking, and expensive. Evicting a tenant can take 3 to 4 weeks to complete and cost upwards of $ 3,500 .
To help mitigate gamble of eviction down the line, consider every applicant ’ mho eviction history. past evictions can be key indicators of future tenant problems ; SmartMove research shows that evicted residents have about three times as many anterior evictions and rental-related collection records as non-evicted residents .
thoroughly screening a tenant can help you make an inform lease decision. Read more about screening tenants for the first clock and ensure you ’ ve checked all the boxes before signing a rent with your tenant .

Have Your Tenant Sign an Airtight Lease

once you ’ ve selected a tenant, there ’ south still work to be done. Before allowing a tenant to move in, require that they sign a lease or lease agreement .
residential leases are tenant contracts that distinctly define the expectations and requirements for both tenant and landlord. A well thought-out and legally-compliant rent can help ensure both tenant and landlord are protected .
NOLO provides a breakdown of distinctive provisions found within a lease, which include :

  • Duration of tenancy
  • Rent amount and how it should be paid
  • Tenant maintenance requirements
  • Pet policy
  • Security deposits and other fees and how they should be paid
  • When and how landlords may enter
  • Tenant behavior expectations (quiet hours, maintenance requests, etc.)
  • Restrictions on the use of the property (smoking areas, pet policies, etc.)

This list is just a start indicate, and by no means exhaustive. Learn more about common terms to include in rental agreements as you create a lease for your rental property .
Pro Tip: First-time landlords may consider working with legal advocate to draft an airtight lease or rental agreement that helps set up expectations while protecting the landlord in the event of future litigation .

Conclusion: Do Your Due Diligence and Protect Yourself By Screening

If you ’ ve decided to rent out your unit, then it ’ s safe to assume that you will deal with a wealth of raw challenges but besides have an opportunity to realize fiscal top.

TransUnion SmartMove provides independent landlords with the comprehensive examination background reports needed make a more confident leasing decision. When you ’ ra confident in your tenant, you can besides have the peace of mind that your rental home is in good hands .
Get near-instant access to your applicant ’ second credit, criminal, and eviction history reports. Plus, SmartMove lets you pass the cost on to your renter. Get your exempt history and start screening tenants today !
learn more about tenant screening today

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