Renting out your property for the first time can be a daunting task – Where do I start? How do I attract tenants? How do I navigate the mire of legalities and finances? While the simplest path is to seek out a rental property management service who can guide and support the first time landlord, it can be hard to know where to begin once you’ve made the decision to rent out your property. So, here are some stepping stones to make the way a little clearer.

Prepare the Home for Tenants

Whether you’ve owned the property for years or just bought it new, it will likely need to undergo some renovations. This will increase the property’s value and attract more tenants. With that said, as fun as ‘The Block’ is to watch, renovation can be tricky to navigate!

Some key things to keep in mind include:

  • Establish a budget: It may be tempting to go all out to impress future tenants, but it’s important only to spend as much as you can make back in rent later
  • Comply with state safety regulations for rental properties: These can be different for privately owned homes and should be considered an essential part of your pre-rental planning.
  • Fix potential problems (loose boards, faulty wiring) before the tenant moves in: This will prevent disputes and potentially pricey repair fees.

Show Off the Property

The initial advertisement is a potential tenant’s first impression of a property, so it’s essential to get it right. Gone are the days of sticking a sign in the lawn and taking out an ad in the paper – there are multiple sites and spaces for rental properties, allowing you to advertise dynamically to a range of people.

Remember to tailor your marketing for your ideal tenants, keep your advertisements detailed and professional, and don’t skimp on photography – for 89% of prospecting tenants, quality photography is the most critical factor in rental advertisements.

Be Aware of Your Legal Responsibilities

This is one of the most complicated parts of being a landlord, as property management legislation can get very complicated and very hard to understand.

Start with creating a lease for your future tenants to sign. There are different kinds of leases (periodic, long term, short term), and they must be clear and precise to ensure that both you and your tenant remain within your rights. The lease will become your rulebook, determining rent, security deposits, terms, duties, and rules. Start with government-provided rental tenancy agreements.

Before you rent, be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, and consider hiring a lawyer (or property manager with legal expertise). Also, invest in the landlord’s insurance, which differs from the homeowner’s insurance.

Set Up Your Finances

First-time landlords have to learn how to manage both personal and business finances and set up rent and tax for their property.

Rent, in particular, can be a headache, determining a price that will be attractive to tenants while still making the property profitable. It will require some research to determine the right rent for your property while factoring in location, condition, and your expenses. Also, determine how you will collect the rent and security deposit. When it comes time to do your taxes, be aware of rental property tax laws so you can determine what’s deductible or not.

Above all, keep detailed records to protect yourself and your tenants.

Seek help

Renting out a home for the first time can be exciting, but it’s not possible without a good deal of hard work. At each step of the way, hiring help can be a great burden off your back and may end up being the more profitable option – so look into tradies, marketers, lawyers, accountants and most importantly, an expert property manager who can take care of the complex work and ensure nothing goes overlooked.

Navigating property rental can be a quagmire, but by following these stepping stones, you should be on your way to handing over the keys to your first tenant in no time. Of course, you can always be letting agents do the work for you.