Ten Things I Learned About Renting My House

by Hank Coleman

Question to ask a potential property managerGetting your house ready to rent is a lot like getting it ready to sell. There are several things that I have learned about renting my house along the way that have greatly helped speed up the process. And, there were a few stumbling blocks too that could have tripped me up getting my house ready to rent. Here are ten lessons that I learned about renting out my house and hopefully it will help you as well.

Ten Things I Learned About Renting My House

First Impressions Matter

The other day we were surprised with a tree that fell down in our yard and a call from the property manager that a guy wanted to come by and look at the house. My mother-in-law freaked out a little bit and went outside to clear branches and pinecones from the yard herself.

While that’s a little extreme, her point was definitely valid. First impressions matter! We didn’t want potential renters to see broken branches everywhere as soon as they drove up to our house.

Get Rid Of The Clutter

Just like if you were selling your home, you want to make sure that excess furniture, kids’ toys, and clutter are gone. We rented a storage unit and started taking things a little at a time out of our house. It looks so much larger with nothing in there.

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Hire The Right Property Manager – I had 20 questions that I asked three different property managers with, and it made all the difference in the world. We hired an excellent company that came highly recommended and have been so happy ever since.

Advertising Is Key

You definitely have to have great pictures and a lot of them up on the websites that you advertise on. I was so relieved that our property manager handled all of this for us. But, if you are doing it yourself, you want to ensure that you do not skimp on the advertising.

Clean Up The Yard

This goes hand in hand with the first impression comment. But, you also need to think about things like replenishing the flower beds or adding new mulch and raking your leaves. These small touches can definitely go a long way to making your house look great and renting fast.

Fix All Your Blemishes

I forgot just how many holes I have put in the walls of my house until I started taking things down to pack up. There were a lot of things like repainting, nicks in the walls, and hole marks that needed to be repaired. One great thing to do is to tackle this a little bit along instead of saving it all up for the day you move out.

Hire A Cleaning Crew

A cleaning crew will help you get your house looking like it is brand new. I could clean all the bathrooms and baseboards myself, but I know what my competitive advantage is. It would have taken me hours to clean properly, and I would have had to buy a lot of supplies. Hiring a cleaning person was a huge time and money saver in the long run.

Professionally Clean Your Carpets

This is a must if your house is empty. Your house needs to look like it was just built as much as humanly possible.

You’ve Got To Be Flexible

One thing that has put us head and shoulders above our competition is that my wife and I are easy going and flexible. If someone wants to have dogs at the house, we are fine with that. We even considered dropping the rent when a potential renter asked. We’ll do whatever it takes to rent out our house. Being flexible has definitely helped.

You’ve Got To Be Ready

My mother may not agree with this, but I think that I’ve cleaned up a lot since high school. My wife and I make up our bed every morning. We don’t leave clothes piled on the floor. Just that alone has made us model potential landlords.

Our property manager calls us at all kind of crazy hours of the day randomly when they get a potential tenant that is going to look at the house. Typically, my wife and I are at work and the property manager shows the house. I’m glad the house is ready and my dirty underwear isn’t just lying around.

What about you? Have you recently sold or rented out your house? What were some things that you messed up and wish you could do over again?

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.

Hank Coleman has written 581 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jai Catalano

I actually took it a step further. I rent each room out in my house to individual people who are now all very good friends. I pay the light gas cleaning and cable (up to a limit) and add that in to the fee. So far it’s been ok.



That’s a great idea. We made the mistake of giving our two boys each their own room, and now we cannot stuff that genie back in the bottle I’m afraid.



I rented out my house about 13 years ago. I painted, repaired and did all the things you do when you ready it for sale. In addition, I included a lawn and pool service into the rental to make sure it would be taken care of.



Couldn’t you have just added the lawn and pool requirement to take care of it in the lease agreement? That’s what we did with the lawn which is pretty standard in our area. I can see your concern though about a pool.


Julie @ Freedom 48

We own a townhouse that we rent to a single family, and we also have an apartment in our basement that’s rented to 2 university students. Keeping on top of things is definitely important – for landscaping, maintenance/repairs etc. However, I think screening the applicants is the most important – if you have good tenants… everything will run smoothly.



I need to read your blog more – Did you rent out your house because of a move, or is this list for a house you bought just for the purpose of renting out? Although your list breaks down the chores nicely, the action sounds like a lot of work! I think (just like blogging) few people consider how much effort it takes to prepare your product and lock into the income.



We are renting out our house because we are moving because of a job relocation.


20's Finances

I like your idea about hiring a cleaning company. I used to think that doing everything myself was the only way to go. Since I have started blogging, I have quickly changed my mind. It’s better to pay for some things.


Anna Miller

Great list. I would add “Get a property inspection.” This way, you know what condition your home’s major systems are before your tenant moves in, and can fix anything that might be about to require repair. Your tenant will feel more at ease about the house they’re about to move into, and you’ll be in a better position to make the tenant pay for repairs if he or she causes major damage.



Even the apartment we live in, we did not paint and left everything as it was, in case we ever had to sub lease and show it quickly.


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