Much of the effort in being a landlord comes at the beginning of a tenancy. You may be wondering if there is any way to place a tenant yourself if you live in a different town or time zone than your rental. The answer is, through smart utilization of technology and some hard work, you can!
Advertise your Rental
First you need to advertise the unit that you will be renting. You can utilize free sites like Zillow manager, craigslist, and local websites. You can find a complete listing of locations where you can list your rental at http://www.reluctantlandlord.net/17-places-list-house/. If you are going to give yourself the job and title of property manager, commit to doing it well. Be sure to respond to inquiries in a timely manner, or you will risk losing a tenant to another landlord. Describe your unit as accurately as possible, so that you don’t waste time with renters who will be turned off when they find out there is only on-street parking or no on-site laundry.
Show the House
Opening your unit for showings can be a logistical challenge, let alone when you will not be in the area to do the showings yourself. Vacating tenants may be willing to show the property for their landlord if requested. If the tenant cannot, or if you do not want the tenant to show the property, ask a local friend or relative to open the door for you. If you are having someone assist you, do your best to group the showings together, spaced 15 to 30 minutes apart. These group showings are better than doing an open house, and are a more effective use of time. You can see more about scheduling efficient showings here: http://www.reluctantlandlord.net/efficiently-set-showings/. If you are struggling to find help with showing your rental property from afar, make some calls to property managers. Some property managers will list your unit on the MLS and place your tenant for a flat fee. Once this is done, you can resume your role as property manager.
Complete the Application
After you have an interested party, have the potential renter complete a rental application, and background and credit checks. ezLandlordForms offers all of these documents in a paper-free, electronic process. You can even order a screening of previous evictions. These tools can be ordered and completed remotely, and will tell you a lot about a tenant whom you will not be able to meet in person. Be sure to keep your listing up until the tenant is placed and you have received their security deposit.
Once you have found the right tenant for you, the next step is completing your lease agreement. Remember, your lease is not for the times when things are going well at your property, but when things go wrong. Make sure you cover every situation with a comprehensive, state-specific lease. Here is a list of considerations to make, along with suggested wording: http://www.reluctantlandlord.net/everything-lease-addendum-landlords/. The ezLandlordForms lease allows you and your tenants to eSign, so you can get your rental agreement executed from any location around the globe.
The last step is to walk through the unit and hand the keys to your new tenant. If you plan to make occasional trips back to your property, this is an ideal time to do so. If you must have a surrogate perform the walkthrough, consider a video call so that you may respond directly to any questions the tenant has. Any damage that must be noted at move in time can be documented via photos.
With careful planning and thoughtful use of technology, you can handle your rental from a distance. Each new experience will yield a new skill that you can add to your toolkit.