Renting out or subleasing a space can be a great way to make a little extra cash, but it can also be a hassle. You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for the space, and yet you’re essentially inviting a stranger to live there for a specified (or sometimes unspecified) amount of time. It’s tricky, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you become the best landlord ever.
Make it clear in the listing how much rent will be as well as what your system is for utilities, deposits, and any application fees you might decide to charge. Being clear and upfront about what you expect from potential renters will make the rest of the process go that much more smoothly.
Once you have someone who wants to rent and to whom you feel comfortable renting the space, make sure your contract lays out all the details. Aside from rent and utilities, you’ll want to include things like:
- How long the lease will last and what are the conditions and/or consequences for either one of you cancelling the lease;
- Whether they’re allowed to sublet and under what terms;
- Whether they’re allowed roommates; if so, how many; and under what terms;
- If and under what terms you may raise the rent;
- When rent is due, if there’s a grace period, and if so for how long; and
- Consequences for failing to pay rent/utilities on time.
Starting before your tenant even moves in, you should get in the habit of documenting everything. Take notes and pictures of the space before they move in so you can tell if they’ve done any damage to it by the time they leave, have an ironclad lease agreement, and document all your conversations. Every email conversation with your tenant should have its own file and all text messages should be saved. You can record phone conversations and even in-person conversations if you feel the need (and you’re not violating any laws). Otherwise you can just take notes of each conversation you have with your tenant and make sure to keep those notes together and in a place where you won’t lose them.
Communication Is Key
Finally, the key to any successful relationship is communication. If you start having concerns after your tenant moves in, don’t hesitate to talk to them about it right away. Dealing with it sooner rather than later makes it easier to stop the problem before it becomes an issue. When addressing any potential problems with your tenant, always approach them calmly and respectfully, explain the issue, and ask them to stop. If they can’t for some reason, try to work with them on a way to make the issue less problematic for everyone involved.
There is no fool-proof way for avoiding problem tenants, but by using the tips we’ve provided here, you can help stop many of the common renter issues before they start. If a problem does arise, dealing with it immediately and in a calm, respectful manner can also help your relationship with your tenant and prevent a situation going from bad to worse.
The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests.