If your job is taking you out of town for a period of time, you may be thinking about renting your home rather than selling.  If so, here’s 5 suggestions to help you make a good decision, and minimize the tenant issues that can pop up.

  1. What’s the current state of your home? Did you recently renovate it, and can’t afford to have a tenant take less than great care of it?  If the home has pricey upgrades that would be easily harmed, factor that into your decision-making, and into the deposit and monthly rent you set. If the paint and flooring are livable, keep them as they are and only change them out if you decide to sell.
  1. Research the rental market. Get an estimate of how rentable your place is, and what rent you can realistically expect.  Do a cash flow analysis, comparing this potential rent to your actual monthly expenses like your mortgage and any increased expenses for maintenance or property management. Also, make sure you understand the local landlord-tenant laws and how easy/hard they make evicting a tenant.  Evictions can be expensive and time-consuming, not a good thing if you were expecting to move back to town and into your home.
  1. Tenant-proof your home. Certain property features make a place less prone to damage. Replace carpet with tile, trade out fancy lighting fixtures and window coverings with standard equivalents, and if you have high-end appliances, consider switching them out for Craigslist buys.  Keep in mind that for luxury homes, you will need to keep higher-end touches in it, even if that means putting them at risk.
  1. Pick your tenant carefully. It’s tough to know from a credit report how someone will actually live in your home.  If possible, visit the current home they are renting, and talk to previous landlords. You may want to hire a property manager who is skilled at seeking out this information. Another big question is whether or not to allow pets
  1. Consider “rent to own.” Lease-options can be a great deal for all sides. You might be able to charge a premium sales price, and a renter who might not qualify for a mortgage right now might be able to move their family into a long-term home. Also, rent to own tenants tend to take better care of the home.