Turning your home into a rental

I wanted to share a little info about renting your home that I think would be helpful for some of you who rent out a property. Information below is deemed to be accurate as of 2019 in Washington State, but laws and practices are subject to change.  Please feel free to call us for a free consultation to get the latest info.

How do I get the word out about a place for rent?

As a general rule, you want to expose your rental to as many people as possible.  The basic rule of pricing is that competition brings quicker rental and better quality renters.  Just as with a sale, if you don’t reach a lot of people, you artificially limit your market,  A few resources you should be using include move.com, realtor.com, follow.com, hotpads.com, craigslist, rent.com plus  a licensed broker can also help you get on the MLS. Additionally, there are services that can help you syndicate to all of these sites at once.

How do I screen tenants?

Almost anyone who has rented out a property has a story of a terrible tenant.  I highly recommend services like cozy.co (yes, just co, not com) which can run eviction checks and credit checks without you having to worry about handling personal information, or getting stuck with a bed tenant.  Keep in mind, you can only charge for your actual costs in the screening process.  You also need a written letter for any tenant you decline which tells the reason, the bureau pricing the info, and a link to get their free annual credit report.

Can I charge pet rent?

You can charge pet rent, but not up front fees for allowing a pet. You can charge a deposit, but no more than 25% of the first month’s rent.

What should my rent be?

Any realtor can pull rental stats for your area in the last couple of quarters.  This is a good starting place, but you can adjust for condition, commute and other factors.  Zillow.com also gives rental estimates, but of course they are just that, estimates.  You’ll get more rent when you put your property on the market during the summer.  You can also lower your deposit to raise your rent, or include utilities.  If you have only one meter and multiple units, you may have to either comply with shared utility laws (3 units, written bill requirements, etc), or install separate meters.

What disclosures and forms do I need?

Leases can never have an unlawful provision.   Make sure you use a form recently approved by the MLS, or consult with your lawyer.  If your home was built before 1978, you need to provide a copy of the EPA’s “Protect your family from Lead” pamphlet” You need to provide a Mold disclosure.  You can get this from any real estate agent, or the Department of Health. Seattle residential landlords are required to give notice that they are prohibited from requiring disclosure, asking about, rejecting an applicant, or taking an adverse action based on any arrest record, conviction record, or criminal history.
Last but not least, do not forget to register your rental property according to the RRIO!
If you are thinking about renting out your home, or looking at weighing the benefits of selling vs renting, or just want to talk real estate, give me a call at 206-458-1311, or drop me a message.
I’m offering free staging on sales for the rest of 2019!

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