It might seem like becoming a landlord in Orlando is as easy as listing your property on the market, choosing a tenant, and collecting rent.
Those are the basics of what you have to do, but there’s a lot more involved. To effectively rent out a home, you must be prepared to put together a legally enforceable lease agreement, understand Florida’s security deposit laws, screen for well-qualified tenants, assemble a list of vendors and contractors, and commit to providing a positive rental experience for your tenants.
Renting out a home is a fantastic way to earn money on a real estate investment, but being a landlord isn’t for everyone.
Here’s how to know if you’re ready.
Your Property is Ready for the Orlando Rental Market
You can’t become a landlord until you have a great property to rent out. Tenants are looking for clean, well-maintained homes in good neighborhoods. If you lived in the property yourself before deciding to rent it out, make sure you:
Clean out all of your personal possessions.
Check for any maintenance issues that may need attention.
Have the home professionally cleaned.
Convert your homeowner’s insurance policy to a landlord policy.
Before listing your home for rent, you’ll need to price it accurately. This requires an understanding of the Orlando rental market. You’ll need to know what homes similar to yours are renting for in your area. Don’t check the listing prices on Craigslist and Zillow. Instead, access reliable data from an Orlando property manager.
You Understand How to Screen Orlando Tenants
Tenant screening is one of the most important things that a landlord can do. The type of tenant you place in your property will have a huge impact on the rental experience you have. With a good tenant, rent will be paid on time, your home will be well-maintained, and the lease terms will be followed. You won’t find much wear and tear when the tenants move out.
Bad tenants, however, are likely to pay rent late or not at all. You may have to evict them to get your property back. Damage will often be left behind, sometimes in excess of the security deposit you collect.
Screen tenants carefully while complying with all fair housing laws. If you’re not sure you have the resources or the knowledge to do this correctly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not ready to become a landlord. It simply means you need some support from a property manager or a professional screening service.
You Understand the Importance of a Strong Lease Agreement
The lease you sign with your tenants will protect you, your property, and your residents. You need to sign a written rental agreement that outlines your responsibilities and your tenant’s responsibilities. This is the best way to communicate your expectations and protect yourself in legal situations.
Look for a lease that’s specific to Florida. You don’t want to download any template you find for lease agreements on the internet. Talk to a property manager or a real estate attorney so you can be sure that everything you need is included in your lease. At the very minimum, your lease should reflect:
The terms of the lease agreement
Rental amount, security deposit amount, and rent collection policies
Maintenance procedures and responsibilities
Rules and policies on guests, parking, pets, smoking, etc.
Landlord’s right to enter the premises
Contact information for owner, tenant, and property manager
How the lease renewal works and how much notice is required before the tenant vacates
This is not a comprehensive list of what your lease should include; it’s merely a starting point. Some lease agreements are only five pages long and others are more than 20 pages. Some of what you include will depend on your property and your tenants.
You’re Prepared to Maintain Your Orlando Rental Property
Maintenance is a big part of being a landlord.
Tenants become easily frustrated when the response to repair needs is lacking. When you receive a repair request from your tenants, take care of it right away. They might be asking for something minor, or maybe it’s a cosmetic issue that they’re complaining about. Still, the request deserves a response.
Put together a list of reliable, professional, and cost-effective vendors and contractors. You’ll need plumbers and electricians; HVAC technicians and landscapers. Establishing relationships with these vendors before you need them will help you maintain your rental property better. You don’t want to be looking for a plumber in the middle of the night when your tenant reports a major leak.
You Can Treat Your Rental Like a Business
You likely have your own full-time job and maybe some family responsibilities and passions you enjoy pursuing. Renting out a home won’t be your only responsibility. You can look at it as a way to bring in some extra income, but you also have to take the enterprise seriously. Treat it like a business. If you’re emotionally attached to the property or hoping to become best friends with your tenants, you’re probably not ready to be a landlord.
Running your rental property like a business means remaining professional with your tenants, keeping your finances accurate, detailed, and intact, and making decisions that are best for your investment.
To run a successful business, you’ll need to comply with federal, state, and local laws. You’ll need to establish a respectful and positive working relationship with your tenants, who are essentially your customers.
It’s also important to protect yourself and your property from potential accidents or liability claims. Make sure you have the right insurance in place so you’re covered.
There are many other considerations that go into becoming a landlord. If you’d like some help understanding your roles and responsibilities, please contact us at RE/MAX 200 Realty. We love providing Orlando property management help to new landlords. Even if you’re an experienced landlord, we’d love to speak with you about how our services can help you enjoy a better and more profitable investment experience.