Allow us to explore a hypothetical scenario: You head out on assignment, and while you’re away, your home sits empty and leeches from your finances while not providing you any real value, other than the guarantee of its availability when you return. The solution to this conundrum? Renting out your home while you’re away. It’s a cost-effective way to bring in some extra income while you’re on assignment. Here are a few tips to get you started:
communicate your intentions
Before you even think about putting out the word that you’re renting your place, you’ll want to communicate your intentions to either your property management (if applicable) or your mortgage lender. Depending on the type of home you own (a condo, for instance) or where it’s located (rules vary from state to state), there may be some paperwork and licensing to take care of beforehand. There also may be red tape in your contract to get through if you’re renting.
By communicating your intentions, you can get the information you need on whatever advanced steps to take before advertising your home for rent. It might take a minute to get the "go ahead," but the peace of mind is well worth it, and will ensure you don’t run into problems down the line. Your landlord, property manager or mortgage lender might also be able to provide some tips on preparing your home for renters.
advertising your property
Once you have that important first step out of the way, it's time to advertise your place and find an appropriate tenant. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of places to spread the word, some you’ve likely heard of, some you probably haven’t:
- Craigslist — Craigslist is like an online version of the old newspaper classifieds. In their “apartments” section, you can post an ad for your property, along with a well-crafted description and some nice photographs to entice potential renters.
- Zillow — Zillow is an online real estate database. They allow you to list a rental, and will cross-post your ad on similar sites like Trulia and HotPads, gaining you additional exposure.
- Apartment List — This platform serves as an online collection of apartments for rent and puts potential renters in touch with all sorts of properties through their online marketplace.
- Sublet — Similar to Apartment List, Sublet is an online rental listing organization that allows you, as a prospective landlord, to post your home for free and have potential tenants reach out to you directly.
- Airbnb — Chances are you’ve at least heard of Airbnb before. While they’re perhaps best known as the site to go to when you need accommodations while on vacation, they also specialize in setting up short-term stays and could be a useful outlet to turn to while you’re on assignment.
- VRBO — VRBO has been around since 1996, believe it or not, and started as a way for vacationing homeowners to list their homes for rent (hence the name, Vacation Rental By Owner). Years later, they’re still offering a similar service, and serve as a great avenue for you to list your property on during the time you’re away.
When deciding how much you should charge for rent, determine a percentage of your home's market value. Between 0.8% and 1.1% of your home's value is typical. For example, if your home is valued at $375,000, you should charge between $3,000 and $4,125 a month. To get started, you can utilize websites like Zillow to estimate the value of your home.
After you’ve put up a few ads and start getting some inquiries, you’ll need to take the important step of vetting your prospective renters. You’ll want to get as much information as possible about who you’re allowing to use your home and should consider screening applicants based on their credit reports, criminal history and through references like past employers and personal contacts.
consider a property manager
While you’re away, and busy working yourself, it'll be difficult for you to address possible concerns at your home that may come up, like repairs, noise complaints and turnover cleanings. For this reason, you should consider assigning someone to manage your home while you’re away, like a close friend or family member. You might even think about a professional management company who can juggle the complexities of renting out a home. Just remember that hiring an outside agency will come along with a fee for their services.
how to collect rent
A professional property management team will also come in hand when it comes to collecting rent, but if you’re intent on doing it alone, and working outside of avenues like VRBO or Airbnb, you can still set up a payment system with your bank or utilize companies like Paysimple.com to streamline the process.
A word for the wise — you’ll need to establish firm deadlines with your tenant to ensure you’re paid on time, every time, and avoid having to track down your renter to collect what you’re owed. Consider charging a one-month deposit upfront for incidentals, including missed rent payment.
landlord or property insurance
Last, but not least, you’ll want to take a look at property insurance. Rental Property or Landlord Insurance can help protect your home, providing liability coverage and peace of mind should your property or any personal belongings get damaged while a tenant is occupying your place.
Now you should be ready to head out on assignment and feel secure in renting out your primary residence for some well-deserved extra income. Be sure to check out our Healthcare Travel Guide to learn more about the ins-and-outs of making it as a healthcare traveler, and keep an eye on our job search page to find out what opportunities await.