1) Rental Tips – Find a good realtor/brokerage that seems easy to talk to. They should also have years of experience in long-term rentals and a proven track record. A specialised realtor with years of hands on property management experience will save you time and perhaps money too in finding the right tenants for your home.
2) Zoning & HOA’s- Ensure the sub-division where your home is located is zoned for the type of rental you wish to pursue. Some home owner associations or deed restricted communities don’t allow vacation rentals or long-term rentals; others have to approve your tenant’s application before you can rent your home. Check the zoning department of the local county office and the homeowners’ association management office. The homeowners association will have rules and regulations, ensure you supply your manager with a copy so any tenants can be advised of how to stay compliant.
3) Some HOA’s don’t allow any signage on vehicles, or service vehicles to park overnight on the property. They may not allow RV’s, boats or even street parking overnight. It would be wise for you to read the rules so you know what is acceptable. Location: Ensure your home is no further than (if possible), ten minutes to major highways that lead to industry and commercial areas. Look into the schools in the area through the local counties website, if your home is located in the catchment area of good schools this also makes the home a lot more desirable.
4) Desirability – Check out your neighborhood desirability and crime rates on Google. It’s easy to find statistics and compare local amenities such as schools, distance to industry, hospitals, major roads and shopping.
5) Popularity – Is your investment home located in a popular residential area? Is the area noted for great schools? Is it close to major roads? If your neighborhood is sought after, this will also help it rent faster and often for more money.
6) Curb Appeal: First impressions count, look at the front of your home and the other adjoining homes in your neighborhood. Do they look appealing? Do the lawns look neat and tidy? How about the trees, plants and bushes? Are there any dead spots in the grass or landscaping? As you get close to the home, how does the front entrance look? Is it warm and welcoming or does anything need cleaning, tidying or improving? A lick of paint, a nice doormat, some fresh mulch and flowers in the landscaping can work wonders. When a property presents itself well, it sends the message to viewers that the owners take pride in ownership of this home. This encourages potential applicants to want to live there.
7) Furnishings: Long-term rentals rent faster and in most cases tenants stay much longer when they’re unfurnished. If your home is furnished, more details later.
8) Paintwork: Is it appealing to you? How about the paintwork inside and out, is it neutral and in good condition? How long ago was it painted? Does it need freshening? If the paintwork on the interior walls is lightly soiled, here’s what we do first. Buy a box of those white sponges often referred to as magic easers and gently scrub the offending areas. These work well on doors, baseboards, walls, showers, baths, mirrors and tile. A little elbow grease could save you a lot of money especially if you’re just getting started!
9) Flooring: Ceramic tile or wood/laminate flooring tends to be more popular in the living areas. Carpets in the bedrooms are always a plus except for tenants with allergies. Typical rental carpets last 5-7 years. Tiled floors last a very long time and are easy to clean. Carpet companies now offer a deep tile and grout cleaning when needed. If your tiles haven’t been sealed when laid, they will attract a lot of dirt buildup especially in the grout. Once they’ve been cleaned, it would be wise to seal them with a commercial sealant you can buy at Lowes or Home Depot.
10) Parking: How many parking spaces are there for the size of the home. For instance a five bedroom home with only two parking places could be a problem unless you find a family with small children to rent it to.
Garage: Does it have an automatic door opener? Most tenants use their garages daily, so an auto door opener is a big plus and less wear and tear on the garage door. If your garage door is a pull up model and doesn’t have an automatic electric opener, before long it will slip off the runners. When this happens I would recommend to have an automatic opener installed if not before. It will save more than it costs in the long run.
11) Repairs: When you keep your home in great shape it will rent faster and for more money and help retain good tenants, timely repairs and replacements are a must. Really good property management is very important. A good manager knows not only the price of repairs and where to get you the best deals. They should also send you a yearly or bi-yearly report of what needs replacing and how soon to help you budget for replacements. They may have a regular repair man that can do most odd jobs and have a list of vendors they use to quote for more skilled jobs. We have a state certified builder as our main subcontractor who oversees all our repairs and ensures they are done correctly. This helps save our homeowners money.
12) When your A/C breaks down this will require a skilled technician. A licensed and insured company should be carrying out the repair. A/C Techs charge around $75.00 to $95.00 for a service call plus parts and labor. Most property management companies have a regular A/C company they can call on at all times. Before you lease your home it’s best to get your A/C serviced and serviced yearly. Then, you’ll know what kind of shape your equipment is in and can make any needed repairs and do any preventative maintenance.
13) The Rental of Condos & Townhomes: For you the owner, there’s no pool to service, no grass to mow and no exterior painting or updating. There’s usually a community pool and clubhouse with perhaps a gym, tennis court or volley ball courts, barbeque area and children’s play area. Some communities offer other amenities, like gated access, and security guards. The fees for the condo association or the homeowners association in the state of Florida are the sole responsibility of the homeowner. The Rental rates for condominiums and townhouses are usually lower than those of single-family detached homes.
14) Single-Family Homes: A three bedroom two bathroom home is always a popular rental. Sometimes people work from home or have a larger family will want a four bed or even a five-bedroom home. If it’s detached and it sits in its own grounds with a two car garage, all the better!
15) Your Own Back yard Pool. We recommend the use of a professionally trained and licensed company to look after back yard swimming pools. We use one company for all our pools, which is licensed and insured. That way if something is wrong, we know who to call straight away. If you want to use your own pool contractor it can be very problematic for any management company who has no leverage over them to enforce high standards. We don’t recommend owners service their rental home pool themselves, there will be liability issue in the event of an alleged accident or sickness that could be blamed on or related to the pool. A skilled professional will be able to check the pool equipment and help keep it maintained properly. It also affords you an extra set of eyes at the home each week and reporting to the managers if they see anything untoward happening at your home.
16) Regular chlorinated and salt-water pools need to be serviced weekly, to have chemicals balanced and the pool brushed, skimmer baskets and filters cleaned as required. Filters tend to work better when they’re slightly dirty. There is a pressure gauge on the equipment that the pool technician will check to ensure the filtration system is working at optimum level. When taking a sample of pool water, remember to collect it in a clean jar or container and scooped from two foot under the surface so the chemical content can be accurately tested. Testing surface water is unreliable because the sun destroys the chemicals from the first few inches. Most local pool supply stores will test the water for free as long as you buy your pool chemicals from them. The pool should always look clear and blue. Certain colored tiles and finishes can make the pool look green or with a lagoon-style finish the pool may look muddy brown.
17) If the pool looks green it usually means it has yellow mustard algae on the walls or the bottom and no one should swim in it until it has been treated. Change your pool filter every year and don’t leave the old one by the outdoor trash, it alerts passers by that there’s a brand new filter in the pool. New pool filters are often stolen, sometimes by neighbors and occasionally by the pool guys! Remember to write your address on the filter with a large permanent marker, which should help deter thieves. Some filters may last up to two years but it depends on the type of filter, the amount of use the pool gets and the filtration system used.
18) Safety in and around the pool is always a major concern. Children do drown in backyard pools every year; the shimmering water is very appealing to children and can also be dangerous.
19) In order to comply with health and safety, we recommend the following: You will need a warning sign and depth markers mounted in the pool area. These can often be purchased from your local pool supply store. The sign should detail things like, no children under the age of sixteen should be allowed by the pool without adult supervision. No running, no diving, no glass in the pool area etc. Depth marker detailing the shallow end (3’) and deep end of the pool (6’) can be mounted or painted on the pool deck. Pool alarms or a child safety fence should also be installed and the tenants encouraged to use them and if they are damaged or broken to ensure a swift repair or replacement.
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