TNS—Q: We are getting older and ready to move to a smaller home. Our plan has always been to rent our existing house to make extra money toward our retirement. After the eviction moratorium, we are nervous. Is it a good time to be a landlord? — Jerri
A: Not collecting rent is a scary prospect that every landlord needs to be prepared for.
Whether it is because of a pandemic, natural disaster or non-paying tenant, you need to have enough of a cushion to carry the house’s expenses for at least several months.
Renting property, done correctly, can be rewarding.
The good news for landlords coming out of the coronavirus crisis is that rents are higher now.
To be a successful landlord, treat it like a business. Write everything down and save your receipts. Keeping track of your financials can help when it is time to file your taxes.
Tenant selection is critical to successfully renting your property. It is better to spend extra time upfront choosing your tenant than spending even more time evicting them.
Check work history and do a background and credit search to ensure your prospective tenant is financially stable.
Take the time to read the landlord-tenant statute. It is written to be understandable to non-lawyers and reads almost like an instruction manual for renting.
Knowing your rights and responsibilities is key to a good experience. If you feel intimidated by the process, you can hire a real estate agent to help you.
Once you find a good tenant, do not ruin the relationship by trying to be friends. Being friendly is good, but who wants to evict a buddy for not paying the rent.
Remember to treat this as a business relationship. Respond to repair requests quickly.
In return, your tenant also needs to take the relationship seriously. Explain that they need to treat the house as their home and must pay their rent on time.
Accepting excuses rather than rent rarely works out. Posting a warning notice for nonpayment sends a clear message that the rent needs to be paid each month to avoid immediate consequences.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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