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    7 Things to Know Before Renting Out Your Home

    Recently, my spouse came home from work and shared unexpected news. We have military orders for a new assignment. So, apparently, we will not be enjoying the upcoming season in this home. The good news is that we could easily be stationed here again. With that in mind, we’ve decided to keep our home and rent it out. Now the real fun begins! But what do we need to know as we take on this new role as a landlord?

    Are you facing an unexpected change of assignment? Or do you anticipate an upcoming military move? If you're in the same spot we are, here are a few points to get the ball rolling as a landlord.

    1) The importance of being organized.

    By virtue of being a landlord, you’ve now started your own business. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to be as organized as possible. Make a plan to record all receipts, whether in a file or by taking photos on your phone. Keeping receipts in order also helps when you need to itemize your deductions at tax time. 

    Businesswoman filling out paperworkPhoto from Canva

    2) Your legal responsibilities. 

    It may not be a page-turner, but you'll want to read through the state and federal fair housing laws. Visit the U.S. Department of Housing for documents that detail the Fair Housing Act. It details restrictions on discrimination against protected classes, including race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability.

    Learn more about this topic in our article, What Homeowners and Landlords Should Understand About the Fair Housing Act.

    A little bit of homework now will prepare you if any unexpected legal issues arise later. When looking for accurate forms to address legal requirements, MilitaryByOwner offers various options via U.S. Legal Forms. Use your Residential Lease Application form to screen for an ideal tenant. Most prospective tenants understand the need for credit and background checks. No matter if the candidate is a referral from a friend or a co-worker, treat each applicant the same.

    3) The matter of timing. 

    When initiating a Residential Rental Lease Agreement from U.S. Legal Forms, consider the timing. What length of time do you want a tenant to reside in your home? Six months? One year? Two years? In our case, we are unsure how long our new assignment will be. We hope to find a tenant to lease our home for at least one year with the option to renew if they prefer to stay another.

    If you plan to market your rental property to military renters, you’ll have to plan around their PCS timelines too. You’ll need to brush up on what federal protections they’re entitled to from the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). You might also have a renter interested in adding a military clause to the lease. Make sure you’re prepared to discuss the inclusion and if you need a reverse military clause included. 

    Everything Renters and Landlords Should Know About the SCRA and the Military Clause spells out the often misunderstood information. 

    man with pen and laptop showing paperwork Photo from Shutterstock

    4) Lease specifics.

    A legal lease protects both the homeowner and the tenant, so spend the time and money to ensure your lease is one that your state recognizes. You may have to tweak some of the language to satisfy your tenant's concerns, so before everyone signs, have a legal professional take a look. All these little pieces fit together to create a bigger picture, personalizing the lease for your home and your situation.

    While creating a lease, add details like:

    • Amount of rent
    • Amount of security deposit
    • Military clause
    • Smoking or Non-smoking
    • Pets allowed, pets upon approval, or no pets
    • Landscaping service provided or tenant responsible for landscaping
    • Tenant responsible for utilities, or landlord covers utilities
    • Parking permit provided or tenant applies for a parking permit

    5) How your tenant thinks.

    As for the home itself, consider a walkthrough of your property as if you are seeing it through another person’s eyes. A walkthrough highlights repairs that need attention before a tenant moves in. Always remember," move-in ready" is what renters are looking for!

    Our post, The Ins and Outs of Turning Over a Rental Property, gives you great tips and checklists for this process. 

    couple sitting in rental propertyPhoto from Shutterstock

    6) How to list your rental. 

    Paperwork? Done. Repairs? Complete. Now it’s time to list your property. As we outline in our post How to Create an Unforgettable Home Listing, the steps to building an online listing are as user-friendly as possible.

    If you hit a bump along the road, MilitaryByOwner's customer service team members are just a phone call or mouse click away.

    Within your ad, be sure to answer these questions:

    • What is included with the rent? (Utilities, landscaping, etc.)
    • Which school district is the property zoned for?
    • What amenities are in the area? List a community swimming pool, local parks, or convenient shopping or dining.

    7) The importance of photos in your listing. 

     Most people looking online for properties are immediately drawn to listings that include good-quality photos. To keep a potential renter interested, you'll need to photograph your home at its best. It sets your listing apart!

    After creating your superstar listing on MilitaryByOwner, share, pin, favorite, post, tweet—whatever it takes to get the word out! Use popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to do the work of marketing for you.

    If you need to rent your home before leaving for a new military assignment, rely on the numerous resources we provide, including those for property managers and landlords. The idea of becoming a landlord will be far less intimidating! And be sure to download our free resource below that we've created just for military landlords. We understand the challenges and nuances that go along with managing your property as a military member. 

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    Mary Ann Eckberg


    Mary Ann Eckberg

    Originally from Nebraska, Mary Ann Eckberg is a writer, a dreamer, an animal rescue softie, a laundry ninja, a football fanatic, and a cupcake connoisseur. Honored to be a military spouse, Mary Ann collects good friends and good memories at every assignment.

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