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Tips provided to help rent out your home

| Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, 3:02 p.m.

Some people become accidental landlords because of a job change or difficulty selling a house. Others find they need to rent out the home of an elderly parent who has moved into a care facility. Some advice for those taking on this challenging new role:

Find the right tenant: A credit check and legal background check can help you find reliable, honest tenants. Sometimes, a credit check alone will rule out an applicant. Personal references can be useful if the applicant is local and you have mutual acquaintances. Use an online directory to search for an applicant's current address and get contact information for their neighbors. Meet applicants in person and really talk with them.

Prep the house: After you've found your tenant, clean your home thoroughly and make the property as safe as it can be. Tackle any looming home-improvement jobs now, rather than leave your tenant to handle them.

Document and discuss: Take pictures of the house inside and out. Don't skip anything, and don't assume one panoramic shot of each room will do. If you're leaving furniture, also photograph the condition and cleanliness of each piece. When your tenant arrives to inspect the home before moving in, have him or her sign a document of the pictures, showing the condition at move-in.

Tend the outdoors: As you negotiate the lease, don't forget to have a detailed discussion about outdoor space, too. Will you or the tenant pay for lawn-cutting? Who will keep up with pulling weeds and trimming shrubs? Is the tenant permitted to plant flowers and do other gardening?

Plan ahead: If there are repairs or upgrades you promise your tenant, set a schedule in your personal calendar for completing them in the weeks after he or she moves in. Make sure your tenant knows how to contact you and how to handle problems that might arise. Have a reputable contractor or other professional on-call in case something needs to be repaired.

Stay in touch: If you won't be living close enough to check on the property yourself, arrange for a friend or hire a property manager to do so. A tenant will respect you and your property more if you remain involved.

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