Getting your Home Ready to Rent
- Keep careful records.Rental income is taxable, but many of the expenses you will incur as you prepare your rental are tax deductible. Keep detailed records of the money and time you spend getting your home ready to rent so that you can maximize your deductions at tax time.
- Apply for a rental permit.Permits are not necessary in all areas, especially for short-term rentals, but many cities are responding to the growth of new rental trends by creating new forms of regulation. If a permit is required in your area, give yourself plenty of time to get through the application process before your first guests arrive. Remember that permitting and inspection fees, like all other expenses you incur while preparing your rental property, are tax deductible so be sure to keep careful records.
- Acquire landlord insurance.Call your local insurance agent and ask if your current homeowner’s policy will cover the kind of rental situation you will be offering. Many policies will cover the occasional short-term rental, but for more long-term arrangements, you may need special coverage.
- Prepare your home to rent, inside and out.Make sure that all appliances work, that furniture is comfortable and in good repair, and that everything is clean and neat. Ensure that safety equipment like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are in good working order and are clearly accessible. Remove all precious personal belongings to a secure location, such as a storage unit or primary home. Do the same with all toiletries and anything else you wouldn’t want a stranger snooping through. Put clean linens on all of the beds (if you are planning on supplying linens), and make sure that bathrooms are stocked with clean towels, soap dispensers are full, etc. The requirements for safety equipment in rental properties vary widely by region. Smoke detectors are the bare minimum in most places. You will be informed of further requirements through the permitting process. Unless you are going for a very high-end rental, do not furnish your rental with extremely expensive furniture, linens, towels, etc. These items are likely to get damaged or disappear. Look for items of decent quality that are not too expensive but are still comfortable.
- Hire a reputable cleaning service.Some property owners are able to minimize costs by performing rental clean-outs on their own, but this can be a very time-consuming and difficult process, so it might be better worth your time to hire a professional service. If you do, be sure to do some research first and hire a reputable company that is licensed and insured. Get personal recommendations from your rental agent, other property owners, or look for a service with excellent online recommendations.
- Hire a landscaping service.As with cleaning, some property owners take on landscaping chores themselves, but you may be better off hiring a landscaping service to take care of routine lawn maintenance and care. Landscaping services, like cleaning services and other maintenance costs are all tax deductible, and a well-maintained yard is more likely to get good reviews and repeat renters.
- Create a system for providing a key or entry instructions to your guests. This is something that can be handled by your rental agent should you choose to use one. The check in and checkout instructions will be detailed with the lease and any inquiries etc. can be directed to the rental agent and their office, freeing you up to enjoy your time!
- Create a welcome book or informational packet to give to renters when they arrive.Include information about the home and the local area. Providing information on local attractions and dining options, as well as emergency contact information is an option that guests love. Leaving a welcome gift like a fruit basket or bottle of wine is another great way to welcome guests and keep them coming back year after year.