Renting Out Your House

Renting out your house, or houses, can be challenging. But I want to give you some pointers on how to effectively market your house, and some documents you can use to manage the property. I want you to understand that you can manage your own rental property, and that realtors do not provide that much value (most of them, anyway). I believe that most people think that the paperwork portion of renting out your house is something they do not understand enough to do on their on own. So I will help you with that, but first, let’s look at what I have found to be effective methods to marketing a house for rent:

Other Articles in this series:

  1. Put a Sign in the Yard
    This may be the single most effective way to push the house you want to rent out. I know this seems obvious, but it is crucial and I needed to make the point. I have found that a standard “For Rent” sign that you buy at any store is perfectly acceptable. Buy the biggest sign you can find, and make sure that your phone is written as largely as possible. Place it in a readily viewable part of the yard, and maximize the ability for people driving by to clearly see and read it.
  2. Post an Ad in the Local Newspaper
    When I run my ads, I like to run them for 3 days a week – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. When composing the ad, be sure to include the area where the home is located (I like to reference a nearby busy street that most folks should know of, and typically don’t include the address of the home), the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the garage capacity, the square footage of the house, the school zoning, the rental rate with the deposit amount, and my phone number. Here is a copy of the ad I ran just this past weekend, for a home I am managing:
    • FOR RENT 3/2.5/2 Great Family Home off 2305 – 2400 sf, 2 yrs young. Belton schools, $1500/1000, 760-1616
    • In this ad, I also included that the home was only 2 years old. I like to do this with newer homes, as it seems to attract people a little better. Also, in this one, I included the words “FOR RENT” in all caps, as this also helps to draw attention to my ad over the surrounding ads.
  3. Post an Ad in Craig’s List
    Craig’s List is a wonderful, free advertising website that get hundreds of thousands of hits per day, and allows localized advertising of all sorts of things, including rental ads. It also allows you to post up to 4 pictures per ad. I advise you to take advantage of it, and include 4 pictures of the house (maybe one picture of the exterior, and 3 interior pictures). I love Craig’s List, and use it for all kinds of things, both buying and selling / renting.
  4. Post Ads on Other Websites
    This one is good if you really want to maximize the exposure of the house, or if you are in a weak market, and need to get the word out more. In this scenario, I would talk with local realtors and property managers and see if you can work out a deal to “borrow” some of the web space for posting your ad. It is likely that they will attempt to coerce you in to hiring them as a property manager, but don’t, just offer a small fee for running an ad on their site. I haven’t had to use this one so far, as I am in a strong market, and have been working with particularly desirable houses.

Now that you have gotten an insight on how to market properties (and I promise you, if you utilize the 4 steps above, you have just done more than any average property manager would do for you) let me give you a couple of links to documents you can use manage the property you want to rent out, as well as some guidelines on how to use them:

  • Rental Application
    Have your potential renter fill out this form and get it back to you. My recommendation is to not charge an application fee, but merely have them produce a copy of their credit report for you (they can get it at any of the big three – equifax.com, transunion.com, or experian.com). This is better for them anyways, as they can use the report elsewhere, as necessary.
    • Make sure to verify their employment, and ask as many questions about the renter’s employment as possible, like: How long have they worked there? Are they a faithful employee? Are the a hard worker? Anything that the employer is willing to answer. Remember, you have to ask, or they won’t answer.
    • Check rental history, ask the same type of questions as you just asked their employer.
    • Be weary of low credit scores. If I see scores less than 500, I usually run for the hills.

Rental Application.pdf – Great form, but use at your own risk.

  • Rental Lease
    I am in Texas, so I use a form optimized for my state’s laws. It is a straight forward, fill in the blank, easy to use form, so let me know if you have any problems using it. If you do not live in Texas, just google for a “free [your state] lease” and use it. Caution – use my form at your own risk! I have used it myself, but do not take responsibility for its contents and/or use. Here’s the link:
    Texas Residential Lease Form.doc

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2 thoughts on “Renting Out Your House

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