More than 1.5 million Wisconsin residents are renters. This should be good news if you are thinking about leasing out a private home. Turning your unused second or third home into a rental property is a great way to wait out a drop in the housing market and recognize a positive return on your investment.
In fact, timing couldn’t be better. Before you post an advertisement for tenants, however, here are three tips you should consider:
Know the Laws
There are a number of state and federal laws that specifically address landlords and tenants. Make yourself aware of your rights and obligations as a landlord as well as those of your tenant. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection has published a helpful guide, called “The Wisconsin Way,” that offers guidance to both landlords and renters.
Maintain Your Property
As a landlord, you are legally and financially responsible for the maintenance of your property. Monitor your home for potential issues, take action as appropriate, and be ready to respond quickly when a tenant requests repairs. Responsibility for minor tasks, such as changing light bulbs and mowing the lawn, could be transferred to the tenant as determined by your rental agreement and local laws.
Many homeowners manage a rental property located in a city where they do not live (and do not regularly travel to). Engaging a local, trusted property manager to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of rental property ownership can help you to manage your property from far away.
Protect What’s Yours
Even when you’re not the person using it, your home is your investment. Rental property insurance, whether provided as a business or home insurance policy, is an important choice for any landlord. Talk with your insurance agent about your options. Be sure to request coverage for damages caused by incidents such as fire, flood, and vandalism and for damages caused by tenants as well. You might also consider umbrella insurance, additional personal protection against lawsuits and other liabilities.
The team at Reis Agency has been helping landlords protect their property for nearly 40 years. If you would like to discuss options for a rental property, call or stop by our River Falls office today.
Do you own or manage a rental property? What tips can you offer for first-time landlords?
Source: Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection “The Wisconsin Way: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants” Revised January 2005