General Landlording & Rental Properties

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Joshua Pettit
  • New to Real Estate
  • Columbus, GA
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Renting out a Single Family Home

Joshua Pettit
  • New to Real Estate
  • Columbus, GA
Posted May 24 2022, 14:45

I bought my first property over a year ago with hopes of renting it out as soon as possible, but got stuck living in it until recently. The house is in the historical district and is a 3 bed/2 bath with an outside garage/storage. I moved 6.5 hours away and work a full time job. I try to come up at least once a month to mow the lawn and collect any mail I may have missed. Since I've moved out I have had at least 15 people ask about renting it out. I have spoke with 3 property managers. I need advice on setting a rent price, property management ( If I should do it myself or 3rd party), advertising, property taxes, property insurance (Do I need to switch my insurance before I rent it out?), contractors(Do people set a year long contract with plumbers, electrician, etc. when renting?), and anything that I may be missing before I rent the house out. Thank you!

Columbus, Georgia

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Bjorn Ahlblad
  • Investor
  • Shelton, WA
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Bjorn Ahlblad
  • Investor
  • Shelton, WA
Replied May 24 2022, 15:27

Congrats on your first rental. Definitely change your insurance. It is not how many people who ask about a rental that counts; it is how many will pass your screening criteria. Trying to do this on your own is asking for trouble. Pick the best one from the PM's you are interviewing and get on with it. They can set the rent, call a plumber when required and get the grass cut. Make sure they will communicate, inspect twice a year, give you access to an account and the other thousand things good PM's do. Check their references. Send the PO a change of address notice if you have not done that and all the best!

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Drew Sygit#2 Managing Your Property Contributor
  • Property Manager
  • Birmingham, MI
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Drew Sygit#2 Managing Your Property Contributor
  • Property Manager
  • Birmingham, MI
Replied May 25 2022, 04:04

@Joshua Pettit Not really understanding where you are on this!

You bought it to rent out, then got "stuck" living in it - why weren't you doing your homework to be ready to rent it out once you moved?

You state you drive 6.5 hours and only go once a month to mow the lawn? Are you advertising it for rent? Where?

What specifically do you need to know about property taxes?

Given you did NOTHING to prepare yourself to rent this property out, you obviously either don't have the time to be a DIY landlord or are NOT motivated. 

So, you should consider just selling it before you lose thousands due to your neglect.

Best-case, invest some serious time in screening for a great GREAT PMC and hire them to protect you from yourself.

In our experience, the #1 mistake owners make when selecting a Property Management Company (PMC) is ASSUMING instead of CONFIRMING.

our experience, the #1 mistake owners make when selecting a Property Management Company (PMC) is ASSUMING instead of CONFIRMING.

It's often a case of not doing enough research, as they don't know what they don't know!

Owners mistakenly ASSUME all PMCs offer the exact SAME SERVICES and PERFORM those services EXACTLY THE SAME WAY, so price is the only differentiator.

So, the first question they usually ask a PMC is about fees - instead of asking about services and HOW those services are executed.

EXAMPLE: PMC states they will handle tenant screening – what does that specifically mean? What documents do they require, what credit scores do they allow, how do they verify previous rental history, etc.? You’d be shocked by how little actual screening many PMC’s do!

This also leads owners to ASSUME simpler is better when it comes to management contracts.

The reality is the opposite - if it's not in writing then the PMC doesn't have to provide the service or can charge extra for it!

We have a 14-page management contract that we've added our real experiences to over the years, with the intent of protecting both us AND the landlord. Beyond the Monthly Management, Placement & Maintenance fees, all other fees in our contract are IF EVENT -> THEN fees.

We don’t know any PMCs to recommend in the area mentioned, but since selecting the wrong PMC is usually more harmful than selecting a bad tenant, you might want to read our series about “How to Screen a PMC Better than a Tenant”:

https://www.biggerpockets.com/member-blogs/3094/91877-how-to-screen-a-pmc-better-than-a-tenant-part-1-services-and-processes

We recommend you get management contracts from several PMCs and compare the services they cover and, more importantly, what they each DO NOT cover.

EDUCATE YOURSELF - yes, it will take time, but will lead to a selection that better meets your expectations & avoids potentially costly surprises!

P.S. If you just hire the cheapest or first PMC you speak with and it turns into a bad experience, please don’t assume ALL PMC’s are bad and start trashing PMC’s in general. Take ownership of your mistake and learn to do the proper due diligence recommended above😊

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Andrew Garcia
  • Lender
  • Silver Spring, MD
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Andrew Garcia
  • Lender
  • Silver Spring, MD
Replied May 25 2022, 11:05

Hi @Joshua Pettit, there are some great suggestions by the others in this thread so I will keep this short.

Hiring a PM will handle advertising, setting a rent price, and property management. They should also have some preferred contractors that they can call if something breaks.

Property tax information can be found on the county website.

Changing insurance is a good idea as well as getting landlord insurance.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can be of any assistance.

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Ruth Blue
  • Property Manager
  • Pigeon Forge, TN
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Ruth Blue
  • Property Manager
  • Pigeon Forge, TN
Replied May 25 2022, 12:33

Hi Joshua,

Depending on how involved you would prefer to be a PM could be necessary or not so much. Growing up, my other long-term rented out a house or two they owned in a different state. It is definitely possible to get a good tenant set up & collect payments with ease. I would 100% recommend having a good contactor for repairs or someone to swing by if needed. Since you are a few hours out you can always come out to visit as well if needed. You could save a good 10% to cover repairs and such moving forward without a manager but you would be your tenant's primary contact. Starting out with self management may be a good start then if you decide it isn't for you, you can always swap to a manager. 

Best of luck with your new adventure & future tenants!