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Renting your home faster

The prospective tenants' first impression of your home is very important and these days that impression comes from photos they see on the web. Stage your rental home nicely before taking the pictures. Make sure all appliances are in good working condition. If you still live there, clean your closets of extra clothing and other stuff, or close the closet doors. Store or dispose of extra furniture to make the place look more spacious. When showing the property, turn on all lights. Create a checklist of things you like about the house and its location which you can use to "sell" potential tenants while creating rental property description. These selling points may include major local attractions your rental is close to (universities, shopping malls, etc.), features important for most renters like washer and dryer, new carpet, energy efficient windows, etc.
For more on writing effective rental listings see our article "How to list your house for rent "

How to screen tenants

OK, you successfully have attracted prospective tenants and even got some applications, what's next? Good tenants that will pay rent on time and take a good care of your property is what all landlords dream about. The first step is checking applicant’s credit history and references. Websites like Tenantverification.com offer credit reports that can tell you a lot about your prospective tenants. If an applicant has bad credit or accounts outstanding in collection, you are likely to experience difficulty in getting the rent paid on time. This is one mistake many inexperienced landlords make - let in tenants that they know in their heart they should not. Remember, in many states renters have considerable rights. Last thing you want is to have a tenant that does not pay their rent for a few months and you have to wait and cover the mortgage expense until you finally go to court and can evict them. Be careful though that you do not discriminate against prospective tenants based on their race, sexual orientation and other characteristics outlines in the Fair Housing Act. Finally, lack of good credit is not necessarily a bad indicator. Younger applicants may have not had time to establish a credit history. When in doubt ask them if they have someone that could co-sign the lease agreement e.g. a parent or a friend.

How much rent you should charge

In today's market with millions of vacant rental properties on the market (former foreclosed on properties or investment properties) renting your home for a premium can be tough. According to a recent housing report by Harvard University (2009) the nation's average vacancy rate rose to hovers around 10% of all rental units. Choosing the correct price means you get the most rent for your home without scaring away potential tenants by overpricing. You have to take into account competition (how much are other houses or apartments in your neighborhood are renting for), condition of your rental place, and its location.

Ft2.com has a cool Compare rent tool that you can use to find out what other landlords are charging for similar properties nearby.

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Should You Allow Pets?

Many tenants have pets, so allowing pets opens your property to a larger pool of prospective renters. However, there is a chance of damage to your home when pets are present. Carpets also have to be replaces more often as having pets has a dramatic effect on the carpet life. A good practice is allowing pets, but taking a separate pet deposit fee refundable at the end of lease term if property is in good condition. Another common tactic for renting your home is allowing small pets (small dogs and cats) and not allowing large animals.

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