Renting the house is a great way to either cover the mortgage while you are away, or, to fund your trip if you are lucky enough to be mortgage free (read more here). Whichever it is you want to make sure all goes well in your absence. Read on for some key things to do in preparation:
1. Hire a property manager – do not leave home without one. Do you want to have to come home because the tenants aren’t paying the rent or the tenants have caused massive damage, or the tenants didn’t clear the snow and so there are problems? Whatever it may be, the last thing you want is to have to deal with this while you are on the road or to have to come home because of it.
2. Choose your Property Manager very carefully. Take your time and delay your trip if it means getting the right one. You need to know that they will actually manage the property – that they will respond immediately to any issues, that they will do regular inspections, and if there are problems, that they will get the tenants out of there quickly.
3. Don’t rush into accepting the first tenants that come along – oversee this one with the property manager before you leave. You really want the right tenants while away. There are never any guarantees but it’s best to wait an extra week or two and get the right ones than take the first that comes.
4. Allow for repairs and maintenance and tenant down-time when budgeting. If you are relying on these funds to cover your mortgage or the funds for your trip then make sure you are realistic as to what it will cost not just for property managers fees and mortgage repayments, but any unforseen repairs and maintenance and issues with tenants.
5. Give your house a thorough check and inspection – actively seek out anything that might go wrong and get it fixed before you go. It will be cheaper in the long run – you won’t be paying for the property manager to arrange it and you will have full control of the tradespeople you get to do the repair work. Get a builder, electrician, plumber in to do an inspection for you – particularly if yours is an older home. It might sound over the top but if you are planning a year or more away then it may well save you a lot in the end.
6. If you have a garden, decide what you want to happen. If you want it maintained to your standards, it is a rare tenant that will come near to that. Consider contracting a gardener you trust to do this, or are you happy to re-establish your garden when you return. In reality the garden should be maintained to a basic standard as part of the tenancy agreement. Confirm with the property manager exactly what is expected as part of the agreement.
7. Make sure you have the right kind of house insurance. You must advise your insurance company that you will have the house rented. Most companies will put you on a new cover which covers rental and tenants. Check if you are covered (worst case scenario) for both loss of rent if the house burns down and needs rebuilding, and, for drug lab clean up if you end up with a drug lab happening in your house. Those really are worst case scenarios – but they do happen. I have had a house burn down and was mighty happy I had loss of rent covered or it would have left a big hole in my pocket paying the mortgage.
8. Consider what you might want to store or keep. You may decide to store in a room in the house but be sure that it will remain dry and secure. A better option is paid temperature controlled storage so you don’t even have to think about it.
9. Set up everything online if it isn’t already. You want to be able to liaise with the property manager – see rental reports and statements, view bank accounts to check payments have gone in etc This is stating the obvious but check you have it all covered before you go.
10. Have a handy neighbor or friend as a back-up – just to drive by occasionally to check things look well and alert you if they thing anything may be amiss.
If you have rented your home and have any other tips, please comment below as I am sure there must be other tips out there.
Here’s to worry free travels!