3 (Little Known) Things to Consider Before Renting Out Your Home

May 17, 18 • News


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There really is no such thing as a free lunch. Renting a property out might seem like a way to bolster one’s income without requiring additional work, but anyone with even the slightest amount of experience as a landlord will be quick to correct that line of thinking. From destructive parties to flushing things that ought not enter a drain, you’ll always find a story that reflects poorly on the profitability of renting.

Not every horror story starts with something as simple as a hole kicked in the wall behind a door or a carpet stain that is easily fixed. Sometimes the real horror stories are the tales that involve taking advantage of little-known loopholes, laws or simply the kindness of a landlord until it reaches a natural breaking point. These are just a few of those stories to offer a few straightforward reasons to study up before you hand your keys over to a stranger.

Maintenance Is Impretative, Even If Tenants Don’t Want It

Imagine a landlord’s dream scenario: Your rental property has a small issue. It’s nothing life-threatening, but it does cause a small inconvenience to someone who lives there. The issue requires what might be nearly impossible, either through neglect of a contractor while installing fixtures or a massive renovation project just to reach the source of the otherwise small problem. So far this sounds more like a nightmare, but wait: Your tenant is willing to live with the issue in exchange for a reduction in maintenance fees. Rent still comes in, no massive project is required and everyone is happy.

Except for lawmakers, as this very scenario is explicitly against the law in states like New York. Landlords being required to keep up their property isn’t a new idea yet it is absolutely required even in cases where a tenant might otherwise be happy to ignore the problem in exchange for some form of reimbursement.

If you’re concerned about the state of your building, make sure you brush up on rental codes and requirements for your area even if the problem is a small one. Something as simple as a toilet that backs up every week without major incident could require massively expensive repairs. When all else fails, brush up on how to fix a toilet that won’t flush and roll up your sleeves if you have to. Bringing in outside help is almost always more expensive in the short run.

Some Renters May Not Want To Leave

Companies like Airbnb work to make renting an easier process in the short term, especially for those on vacation or simply wanting to see unfamiliar sights but don’t want to shack up in a hotel for two weeks. While that aim is all well and good, the act of renting out your property through a site of that nature opens you up to squatters taking advantage of a legal gray area that could leave you without your home for some time.

This exact scenario happened to Cory Tschogl, a California property owner who rented out her condo for what was supposed to be a month-long stay, only to have rental protection laws kick in just in time for the renters to refuse payment and squat for an extended period of time. Though they eventually left the premises under the cover of darkness, Tschogl reported no longer feeling safe in her own condo and will likely sell it to avoid potential retribution from the squatters.

Taking the word of references may cut it for some areas, but not every landlord wants to put their livelihood at stake. Screening tenants thoroughly through a reliable service is the best way to avoid being burned by renters with a history of poor habits. Know the laws for your state and know the reliability of your renters before you sign anything over to anyone.

Financial Pain Might Hinge On A Renter’s Hobbies

While there are plenty of stories that regale with accounts of respectable homes being turned into burnt-out husks by negligent or criminal renters, sometimes a less obvious hobby can hurt you in the long run even if you aren’t aware of it. Jimmy Moncrief told an amusing story about trying to have a rental property refinanced, only to be denied after the home he had inspected turned out to house a massive collection of water pipes traditionally used for recreational marijuana use.

While he never mentioned any explicit damage to the property or even wrongdoing on the part of the renters he still found himself out of the running for refinancing over the lack of value found in the property along with similarly related factors. It’s a good thing he found the situation humorous.

Renting isn’t for everyone and being a landlord requires patience, handy know-how and a fair knowledge of local laws to ensure you end up ahead in the end. Brush up on statutes and speak with people who have been there before to see how their stories might save you from reliving their worst rental nightmares.