Being a landlord can be both exciting yet challenging, especially for a first-timer. There are many varying tasks that landlords are involved in, including advertising vacancies, screening tenants, and staying on top of maintenance requests. Here are just a few tips to get a better understanding of what is needed to start renting out your unit:
Understanding both the state and federal laws in regards to rental properties is crucial in protecting yourself as the landlord, as well as your tenants. Make sure you are well versed in the Fair Housing Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. State laws vary across the country and they usually are more focused on details such as tenant rights and responsibilities, evictions, and lease terms and conditions.
You’ll want to prepare your property so it’s ready for showings. Make sure any visual damages are repaired, the unit is clean and freshly painted, the appliances are working properly, and the doors (even the ones on the closets) function. Outer appearances matter too, so be sure that the common areas (hallways, mailrooms, laundry room) are clean and the exterior of the building is in good condition.
Before you can start advertising the unit, you need to determine monthly rent amount. Do some research on what similar properties in the area are renting for, and also think about what utilities are included (water, gas, etc) or if there will be any additional fees such as pet rent.
Be sure to take photos that showcase every room with good lighting. You can choose to list your property on your own through websites such as Zillow or Apartments.com, or work with a brokerage you trust..
Make sure you are thorough with your tenant screening process. Some things to look for on an application would be basic information (name, current address, reason for moving), employment information (history, income) rental history, credit history, and any references. Once you’ve selected a tenant, make sure all rules are laid out in your lease so that your expectations are clear.
Consider Hiring a Property Manager
Being a landlord comes with many responsibilities, so people often seek out additional help by hiring a property manager. A property manager can be an individual or a management company you hire to oversee your rental property and tenants. Some tasks property managers can help with are advertising your property, enforcing rules and policies, negotiating lease terms, managing maintenance requests, collecting rent, and more.
Looking to Hire a Property Manager?
Renting out a property doesn’t have to be a headache. We take care of the details, while clients enjoy the returns. We offer management for local Chicago single-unit condos, multi-family properties, and apartment buildings with up to 400 units. Learn more here.