Q: Can I rent out my own house?
A: Yes, in most cases. Federal, state and local rules may impose certain requirements. The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, disability and familial status. Colorado further prohibits discrimination based on creed, ancestry, marital status and sexual orientation. Many other rules govern rental property, and if you choose to act as your own property manager, you’ll want to thoroughly educate yourself about the business of renting property.
Q: Do tenants have special rights?
A: Yes. Many laws and local regulations protect tenants, and each community may add its own rules on top of the federal and state laws. Colorado requires landlords to maintain their property in a safe manner (known as the warrant of habitability) and spells out under what conditions a tenant may be evicted from the property. If you’re a tenant, you may want to read up on tenant rights so that you know what protections you have.
Q: Do I have to have a written lease?
A: No, but it’s a good idea. Although not required, a written lease is usually a good idea for both landlords and tenants because it clearly spells out expectations and ultimately can help to protect both parties. In Colorado, if there is no written lease, the default is a month-to-month rental agreement. If you are living in the property and paying rent, and the landlord cashes your checks but you do not have anything in writing, you still have an implied contract for a month-to-month rental agreement.
Q. How much should I fix up my house before renting it to someone?
A. The house should be in safe, clean, working condition. Renters, like buyers, are influenced by the condition of your house, but because they’re not planning to buy your house, they tend to be less picky. Renters are driven more by price and whether the house meets their immediate needs. So, although your house needs to be clean, in good repair and staged for showing, you don’t necessarily need to make as many upgrades as if you were selling it. Paul can advise you on which upgrades and repairs would return value in a rental property.
Q. If I’m having a hard time selling my house, should I offer a “rent to own” arrangement?
A. Probably not. Rent to own is usually a bad idea for sellers because unless the buyer has made a significant down payment, they have little incentive to treat the house as anything but a rental. Seller financing can be a good deal for sellers in certain cases, but rent-to-own schemes seldom are. Click here if you’d like to learn more about listing your property.
Q. I’m looking to rent a house, but the rental market is expensive and there aren’t many houses available that I can afford. What can I do?
A. Try finding roommates and going for a larger space. Big houses rent for less per square foot than do small houses. So, try finding roommates and look for the square footage that would enable you to house-share without feeling crowded.