Though the Bonaire Georgia housing market has recovered, many homeowners still may find their homes aren’t selling as quickly as anticipated. If your Bonaire Ga home is lingering on the market and you think your best option is to rent it out for a while– you are about to become a reluctant landlord.
When putting your home on the rental market, there are few tips you need to make your landlord experience more positive.
1. Find a good tenant.
You can find tenants by advertising in the print and online versions of local newspapers. Also consider online ads, which often are less expensive and more effective than newspapers. Even a sign in the front yard of a Bonaire Ga house will draw enough attention to get calls.
Potential tenants will need to fill out an application, listing their basic information: name, employer, salary, previous landlords and references. You’ll also need their Social Security number and signed authorization to check their credit reports and criminal history. If a prospective renter refuses to give you his or her Social Security number, there some websites that you can still check their credit but they are not as reliable.
If you hire a professional landlord to handle the tenants and perform background checks, make sure it is accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Keep in mind you can do your own background checks, but having someone else’s social security information comes with some law abiding responsibilities. Most programs that offer background check also do credit checks as well on the same report—again, make sure you follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Check for any criminal history by searching state and local records online, or hire an agency. Landlord.com offers tips on conducting tenant screening.
Be sure you know the law. In some states, if prospective renters have served time for certain nonviolent offenses, you still must rent to them if they meet your criteria, Swanson advises.
Double D Property Solutions suggest that you not to give in to your emotions when screening tenants. Potential tenants for your Bonaire rental house can give some sad stories. If they ask you to skip the credit check or overlook a bad report, disqualify them. They can find another Bonaire rental house to stay in. Never let a potential tenant move in by paying with a personal check, get cash or a money order to start. They can pay by check after the first month. A good property manager should not accept a partial payment or partial deposit to move in. If they don’t have all the money to move into your Bonaire Georgia rental house, don’t let them get in the door, stick by your requirements. Check references, contact employers and talk to previous landlords. However, some previous landlords will not give references because of liability concerns, Swanson says.
2. Determine how much rent to charge.
Get an idea of area rental rates by checking newspaper ads, online resources and other neighborhood homes advertising for tenants. Be realistic: What you charge may be lower than your mortgage payment, but if you want to find a tenant, the rent must be comparable to other properties on the market. A good property manager will also call other comparable rental houses in that neighborhood and see what they are asking for rent.
3. Protect your rights with a lease.
Have a written lease so that each party understands their rights and obligations. It is hard to manage your rental property without a signed rental agreement. A good lease complies with fair housing, rental, health and safety, and tenant and insurance laws of Georgia. These laws differ across states, counties and cities, so talk to a Georgia real estate attorney to draw up a rental agreement. Avoid using blank leases from the Internet because they may not comply with the laws in your area. Those documents are only a place to start.
A lease should spell out the following:
- Lease term. A month-to-month lease offers more flexibility if you’re still trying to sell, while an annual lease provides more stability if you plan to hold on to the property.
- Security deposit. This is usually one month’s rent or more. Don’t agree to take partial payments, Swanson warns, as this could indicate trouble ahead with your prospective renter.
- Due date for rent. Spell out penalties if the payment is late.
- Repairs. Detail who is responsible for what.
- Routine upkeep and maintenance responsibilities. Lawn care is one example.
- List of tenants. Know who is living in your property.
- Rules of behavior. Lay out the acceptable noise level, proper neighborly conduct and whether smoking is allowed.
- Pet policies. If you allow them, specify the deposits.
- Homeowner association dues and rules. Explain whether these affect your tenants.
- Arrangements for showing. If you plan to keep your home on the market while it’s being rented, spell out how this will be handled.
- Eviction terms. Let your tenants know that not paying the rent or damaging the property won’t be tolerated.
4. Get the appropriate coverage.
Protecting your Bonaire rental property requires the appropriate insurance policy. You need a landlord policy when you’re renting a property to a tenant versus using it as your primary residence. A homeowner’s policy will not cover any damages if they find out you are not living at the house anymore. A homeowner’s policy, which covers the structure of the home, out buildings, personal liability, medical expenses and your belongings in the house, usually more expensive. As a landlord, you’ll need rental property insurance, which covers the main rental house, some personal property, and liability coverage and is cheaper. It is also good to have a landlord policy that covers lost rents in case the rental house becomes uninhabitable.
5. Encourage tenants to get renters insurance.
Since you are not responsible for their belongings, encourage tenants to buy renters insurance. Some Georgia property managers require tenants to have it. This will benefit you should something happen to the home that damages or destroys the tenant’s belongings. Tenants are also less likely to file lawsuits against landlords if their belongings are protected through insurance of their own.
6. Hire a Property Management company.
If you move from the area or have a military PCS out of the country. Even if you don’t have the proper time or flexibility to deal with tenants, consider hiring a property management or Professional Landlord service like Double D property Solutions.
Property management companies primarily charge fees for two services: finding a tenant, which includes advertising and background checks. Most property managers charge fees for finding a tenant for your rental house can vary up to 100% of one month’s rent, depending on the area. Most property managers will require a reserve fund of $1000-$1500 per house they manage to cover repairs, Typical fee for management varies around 10% to 15% of the monthly rent, the company collects rent, charges late fees, handles repairs, and deals with early vacancies and evictions.
Double D Property Solutions does not require a reserve fund for repairs and only charges half the first month’s rent for getting a tenant in your Bonaire rental house. We also charge for a percent of the collected rents, If you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.
One big advantage of using property managers is Professional distance. Often, the owner will get involved with the tenant emotionally. Don’t trade your rent for a hardship story and a sad face. Let a Professional Landlord be the “bad guy” for you.
7. Prepare properly for evictions.
You can lawfully evict a tenant in Georgia without a lawyer, but it can be a long process if you have never done it before. It may be best to have a professional help you the first couple times. If the tenant doesn’t leave willingly, you can’t just go and move their personal property and kick them out You have to go to court, and the constable should come out and physically remove them.
Legal fees alone in such a case can run from $300 to $1,000. But when all other costs are added, you could end up spending easily a month’s rent. A good property manager should have a low eviction record. For help setting up your Bonaire rental property, contact us.
Double D property Solutions