Robert and Elizabeth R started renting out their house in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, about two years ago when their job offered a promotion if they moved to Richmond, Virgina.
Accomplishing that, of course, requires an owner to consider and contend with a laundry list of details and concerns. “When you rent,” Elizabeth said, “there are definitely a lot of things to think about.”
The most important is probably this: they have hired someone to act as a property manager to avoid trying the patience and good will of neighbors and friends when things go wrong.
The most obvious benefit from renting out an otherwise unused house is the income, which can pay the mortgage and other bills.
So whether you’re having trouble selling your house and have already moved to a new home, or you want to find a winter tenant for a summer vacation home, or your house will be empty because you’re being temporarily relocated for work or just because you want to travel the world, the following is a checklist of things you should consider before handing over the keys.
Choosing a Property Manager
Taking out a newspaper or online ad may work for owners trying to rent their houses without using a Property Manager, and the popularity of Web sites like Craigslist have made the process far easier. But a property manager can facilitate the process by helping set the rental price with up-to-date comparable rental information, by showing the house, by helping to screen prospective tenants and finally by helping to watch over the property while it is rented out.
Property Managers typically charge landlords a fee equal to a month’s rent for finding and managing a tenant.
Andrew Randolph of PMI Garden State with offices in Mt Laurel and Camden, New Jersey said, “We have the resources, and we do all the work to find the perfect tenant with excellent credit and job references.”
If you don’t already have a trusted Property Manager, he said, “then I’d recommend shopping for a full-service Property Manager who has a local presence where your home is located and who really knows your specific neighborhood.”
Perhaps more important, if the tenant suddenly stops paying rent, you can always go to the Property Manager for help. “We’d of course be willing to intervene because we placed the tenant, so it’s somewhat our responsibility,” Andrew Randolph said.