If this is your first experience having tenants, there are a number of ways to prepare yourself and your renters. As you know, or will soon learn, college students are not necessarily models of domestic housekeeping. Make sure everyone signs a lease agreement (even your student) that stipulates expected behavior (no pets, no loud music after 10 p.m., etc.). If your tenants are expected to do any chores or maintenance work, detail it in the lease. You may want to have a real estate attorney review the lease before you present it to your tenants.
Outline procedures for your tenants to notify you about any maintenance issues. You may want to set up a separate email address solely for this purpose. It’s a good idea to have the tenants contact you directly and not put your student in the position of being the “middleman.” This applies to rent payment as well; don’t make your student responsible for bugging tenants about their rent. You should plan to visit the property three to four times a year to perform routine maintenance (e.g. changing batteries in smoke alarms, replacing heating filters) as well as troubleshoot any potential problems that may have escaped your tenants’ notice.
A few Things to Consider
* Spending money for a good, experienced property manager is a small price to pay for your peace of mind and not being awakened in the middle of the night to deal with plumbing emergencies.
* Talk with your legal and/or tax advisor about how best to structure the ownership of your second home or rental property. Some owners establish a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) for each property they own which is not their principal residence. This may insulate you from any legal problems that arise with the property, but it may also increase your property insurance rates. A real estate attorney can advise you about the best way to handle your SAU property.
* Before signing the lease, you and your tenants should walk through the property and note any existing damage. Taking photos of the property during this walk-through is also advised. Both you and your tenants should sign the lease as well as the state of the property document and each of you should receive a copy of both documents. This will be helpful in determining whether you return or retain the security deposit when the tenant moves out.
* Consider sub-leasing and room rentals as possible options as there is a good demand for rentals near Southern Adventist University. Be prepared to spend more on maintenance and repairs if you pursue these options. Be sure to check neighborhood covenants and zoning restrictions before you buy the property if you intend to rent or sub-lease it.
* Allowing your tenants to have pets can command higher rental rates in Collegedale or Ooltewah. This will, of course, increase the risk of damage to your property, so you’ll want to collect an extra security deposit and possibly charge additional rent. Be clear with your tenant as to whether the pet must remain outdoors or may be kept indoors. If you allow pets, plan to check on the property regularly to spot any damage and repair it immediately. When replacing carpets, thinking about using sealed “pet pads” under the new carpet to avoid odors from pet accidents remaining in the pad and wood sub floors.
* Be firm about payment dates and adhering to the rules in the lease. If you emphasize the importance of these conditions at the beginning of your landlord-tenant relationship, you have a better chance of maintaining a good long-term relationship. Deal with any infractions immediately.
Here are a couple of great books to read if you are considering doing your own property management.
If you are looking for an experienced property manager or seeking a place to rent, there are a couple of independent companies in the area that provide these services. Be sure and tell them you heard about them on LiveNearSouthern.com.
*We do not recommend or have any financial relationship with these companies and you are responsible to interview them and any other company carefully and draw your own conclusions as to their ability and fit for you and your properties or needs.