There are several reasons why you may choose to rent out your home instead of putting it on the market. Some of the reasons include:
- Financial Situation — You need the extra income.
- Local Market Conditions — Things are looking up in the rental market.
- Future Housing Plan — You can afford to shift into a new house and keep this house or you are considering to pay off your mortgage of your new house by renting out your previous house.
- Landlord Personality — You have a high tolerance level, meaning you can deal with tenants patiently.
- Current and Expected Home Prices — You do not want to put your home on the market just yet, as the prices are low, but are projected to increase later.
If one or more of these factors have played a role in your decision to rent out your home, it is vital you prepare your home, turning it into a rental property — one that prospective tenants are likely to consider to rent out. You also need to take care of things on your end. You need to prepare a checklist of things to do to prepare to rent your home in Connecticut.
The Checklist for Renting Your Home
Before you can successfully rent out your home, you need to ensure you have checked off the following items from your checklist:
Set Up Interviews with Property Managers
You need to interview several property managers before you decide which one you want to hire to manage your property. Ask the following questions:
- Are you certified to be a property manager and if you are, do you have any certificates?
- How many properties are managing right now and what types of properties do you manage?
- What is your fee structure?
- How do you submit reports and can I see an example?
- How do you screen prospective tenants?
- Who will handle the maintenance work?
- How will you collect rent?
- Can I review sample documents? Such as:
- Property management agreements
- Property owner financial reports
- Move in and move out condition reports
- Common communication between you and tenants
- Rental applications
- How long will the management agreement last for?
- Can you provide me with any references?
For more questions to ask please check out 42 Questions You Need to Ask Every Property Manager by Jacob Grant.
Calculate Cash Flow
You are converting your home into an investment property. You want to ensure you receive a good cash flow from it. You need to calculate your cash flow by adding the following monthly expenses together:
- Mortgage payments
- Homeowners’ insurance
- Utility bills
- Property management fee
- Landlord insurance
- Pending dues
Subtract your expenses from your rental income to determine how much cash flow you will receive by renting out your property. If your cash flow is a little on the negative side, you should still consider renting out your home, especially if your home has dropped in value due to the bad housing market in Connecticut.
WalletHub conducted a study in 2017 and discovered the housing market in New Haven, Stamford, Hartford, Bridgeport, and Waterbury, CT is in poor shape.
Consult with a Tax Accountant
If you want an expert opinion on whether you should rent out your home, you can consult with a tax accountant. The tax accountant can help you arrive at a decision by informing you about the many tax benefits of not selling your house, but renting it out instead.
Conduct Market Research
In 2016, property prices in Connecticut dropped to 0.7%andsince then, the state has only gained 0.5% and if you compare it with Massachusetts, you will find that the state has gained 6.6% over that same duration. Conduct market research to determine which is the best course of action for you take.
Consult with an Insurance Agent
People who own a single-family property should consult with their insurance agent to find out if their mortgage and homeowner’s insurance was underwritten and approved for renting. You need to ask your insurance agent about landlord insurance. Landlord insurance and tenant insurance are two different types of insurance. Here’s the difference between the two:
- Landlord insurance covers:
- Liability in the event the tenant sues
- Damage to the property caused by fire, flood, tenant negligence, etc.
- Renters Insurance
- Pays for temporary housing in the event of repairs and damage to the rented property
- Loss of personal belongings in the event of damage
- Liability in the event the landlord sues
Check Loan Documents
You need to ensure you can rent out your home by checking the loan documents provided by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). You need to ensure you are complying with all the laws and regulations. CHFA, FHA, and government loans may not allow you to put your property up for rent in the initial years of ownership.
Review the Lease and Property Management Agreement
Ask your property manager to provide you with a copy of the lease and property management agreement for you to review. Use this time to ask the property manager specific questions about the terms and conditions of each agreement, modify sections, reword confusing sentences and paragraphs, and make adjustments where necessary.
Create a Timeline
Create a comprehensive and detailed timeline, stating clearly when you plan to market your property to prospective buyers. For instance, you do not want to market your property around the holidays such as New Year’s and Thanksgiving.
You also need to keep in mind the number of days it might take a prospective tenant to relocate to your home, especially if they are coming from another city or state. Another important measure to sign the property management agreement at least seventy days before you start to market your house. Next, personalize the lease agreement for you and the new tenant to sign.
Prepare Your Property
You need to prepare the property so it looks inviting and welcoming to tenants who come in for a tour. Here are some of the steps you need to take to prepare the property:
- Change the codes and locks (alarm codes, garage door code, re-key and recode old keys, and other locks such as mailbox, outdoor shed, and side gate)
- Clean the carpets (steam and shampoo)
- Maintain the Yard (cut grass, prune trees, trim bushes, plant new flowers, add garden décor, replace dead or dying plants and flowers, and remove dirt from cracks in the patio and sidewalk)
- Replace the air filters (clean the vents, clean the ceiling, and replace the reusable air filters with disposable air filters)
- Interior cleaning (scrub baseboards, clean out the fridge, and clean every room thoroughly)
- Replace lightbulbs (replace broken lightbulbs, clean outside lights, remove dirt and debris from lights, and replace normal lightbulbs with energy-efficient lightbulbs)
- Inspect ceiling fans (ensure all fans work and clean ceiling fans)
- Clean cobwebs and spider webs (check indoors and outdoors near doors, lights, and overhangs)
- Inspect sliding doors and windows (clean sliding doors and windows)
- Clean, repair, and change screens (replace or repair torn and broken screens)
- Eliminate pests (spray for pest control to kill bugs)
- Inspect walls (paint, repair, and fix holes or damage in walls)
Once you have tidied up your home, you can take pictures of your home, showing it from the best angles. If you can, hire a professional photographer to take high-quality pictures of the house. If you know someone with good camera skills, you can hire them.
You should remove any personal items you have lying around the home. You can even rearrange or switch out furniture and decorations in your home, especially if your current furnishings can hurt your chances of renting out your home to prospective tenants.
Brush Up On Connecticut’s Renting Laws
You should also brush up on Connecticut’s renting laws before you put your house up for rent. If you know someone who has rented their home, you can consult with them. Even then, it is crucial for you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the state’s laws. Here is what you need to know:
According to the Connecticut Statue, your lease agreement can include specific rent terms and conditions. The terminology included in the lease agreement will benefit both you and your tenant. The terminology stated in the lease agreement cannot violate any laws and regulations imposed by the state or national law. Here is some terminology you can include in the lease agreement:
- Amount of rent due — State the amount of rent due each month or week clearly in the lease agreement as well as the tenant agreeing to pay that amount.
- Rent due date — State the due date of the rent the tenant needs to pay rent on each month, week, or a date both of you agree on.
- Collecting rent — State where or who the tenant will hand in the rent to each month or week.
- Payment methods — State what payment methods as rent you will accept from the tenant.
- Grace period — State specific number of days the tenant can pay rent after the initial due date of paying rent passes.
- Late fees — State the amount you will penalize the tenant for if they fail to pay the rent after the grace period passes.
- Nonpayment of rents — State the consequences of not paying rent such as eviction.
- Terms of the lease agreement — State the duration of the lease agreement — weekly, monthly, or yearly.
If the lease agreement does not mention these terminology, the following assumption can be made:
- Amount of rent due —In Connecticut, if the amount of rent due is not mentioned, the tenant will pay rent according the fair market rent price to rent the house.
- Rent due date — In Connecticut, if the due date of the rent is not mentioned, the tenant can assume the due date of the rent to be at the start of the week, the start of the month, or start of the year depending on their renting arrangement made with you.
- Collecting rent — In Connecticut, if the means to collect rent is not mentioned, the tenant can assume to pay the rent to you when you visit the home to collect it, unless stated otherwise.
- Payment methods — In Connecticut, if more than one payment method to pay rent is not mentioned, you will be violating the state’s renting laws.
- Terms of the lease agreement — In Connecticut, if a separate lease clause is not present, the tenant can assume the duration of the lease agreement to be monthly, unless the tenant makes weekly payments, it will be assumed that the duration of the lease agreement is weekly.
Below each terminology according to the rental law of Connecticut is explained in detail:
Cash as Rent
You can accept cash as a form of payment from tenants. You will need to provide your tenant with a receipt if you are accepting cash. You should have the receipt ready when your tenant gives you cash. The receipt should include:
- The amount paid in cash
- The date of the payment
- The purpose of the payment (rent in this case
It is mandatory for you to provide your tenants with a grace period. In the event they miss the initial date to pay rent, you cannot penalize them until the grace period ends. Here is the grace period for each type of tenant:
- Monthly tenants receive 9 days
- Weekly tenants receive 4 days
Late Rent Charges
You have the right to charge tenants a late rent fee if they fail to pay rent after the grace period ends. However, the state’s law does not specify the amount you can charge as late fee. This means that the amount you charge as late fee will be an amount both you and the tenant agree upon.
There are no specific laws on rent increase in the state. However, you are not allowed to increase the tenant’s rent during the duration of the lease agreement. When the duration of the lease agreement ends, you can alert the tenant of increasing the rent.
If the terms of increasing the rent were clearly written in the lease agreement, that must be followed. Under no circumstances, you can increase rent in retaliation. Some examples of retaliation rent include the tenant joining a tenant’s union or complaining about the poor conditions of the house.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent after the grace period ends, you have the right to send them an eviction notice to vacate the premises. It needs to be a written notice sent to the tenant at least 3 days before the date of termination of the lease agreement. The eviction notice should include:
- The tenant’s name and address
- The reason the tenant is receiving the eviction notice
- The date the tenant must vacate the property by
Once you terminate the lease agreement, the tenant can vacate the property immediately or can reside in the property until the termination process is carried out.