Maybe you’ve just invested in your first rental property or you’re in the process of renting out a home you used to live in. Either way, you’re a first-time landlord and you might not know where to begin. Managing a rental can be a lot of work, but with the right advice and tools, it can be easy.
We’ll walk you through the 5 critical steps of the landlord journey, so you know what to expect along the way.
First, you’ll want to find renters to rent your vacant unit. This might require some prep work if you’re new to this. To start, make sure your property is in tip-top condition. Complete any maintenance that needs to be done, such as painting the walls or updating appliances if needed. Next, take photos of every room in the property, as well as the exterior. And last, you’ll want to list your property online.
Some people still list their property in newspapers, use “For Rent” signs, or hire brokers, but we believe posting your listing online is the best way to attract a larger volume of high-quality tenants. Your listing will be available 24/7 online for potential tenants to find, and it’s completely free for you.
There are several sites where you can list your property. Each site has a similar process: fill out info (availability date, rent price, move-in fee), write a description, and upload photos. That being said, not all listing sites are the same.
Where you list your property will impact how many prospective tenants see your listing and the quality of the tenants you’re attracting. The best strategy for maximizing interest and attracting the right tenants is to:
- List your property across several sites
- Make sure they’re high quality sites where responsible tenants search
- Create and follow a thorough screening process
To accomplish this in less time, you can create one listing that’s syndicated across multiple top sites, including Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Apartments.com, and more.
Once you have a few interested tenants, you should start screening:
- Show your property so you meet tenants in person
- Provide rental applications to interested tenants
- Require credit, background, and eviction checks
Nowadays, it’s easy to screen tenants online. Your tenants will love the option to authorize an application and reports without providing their SSN. It’s also a soft inquiry so their credit score is not impacted.
Create and Sign a Lease
After choosing a tenant and agreeing to important lease terms (date of occupancy, rent price, deposit or fee amounts), it’s time to make things official. You’re ready to create and sign a lease.
Writing a lease from scratch takes time and requires research, and hiring a lawyer can be expensive. Your best option is to customize a rental lease template that follows your local laws — that way, the work is done for you.
You can now sign your rental lease online and the signatures are just as valid as pen and paper. You can save yourself the frustration of copying, emailing, and printing your lease.
Similar to the above steps, we recommend that you collect rent online. Tenants love the convenience of online payments, including Autopay, and you’ll get direct deposits into your bank account.
With online rent collection, you don’t have to worry about sending rent reminders, rent receipts, or manually following up with your tenant if they pay late.
Maintain the Property
Your property is your investment — it pays to keep it in good condition. Plus, tenants will continue to take care of your property if that’s the example you set.
To maintain your property, here are a few key places to start:
- Check up on the property at least every 3 months, if not every month
- Give your tenants an easy way for them to contact you about maintenance and other questions or problems
- Follow up and address repair and maintenance issues right away
Check out Avail — the only platform designed for landlords with less than 10 units. The app allows you to post rental listings, request rental applications and credit reports, sign leases, and collect rent all online.
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