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Tips for Renting Out Your Property for Inaugural Week

We reported in today's Post about the sluggish inaugural housing market. But for those who do score last-minute deals to rent out their properties, the National Apartment Association in Arlington, Va., has issued a number of tips for homeowners to protect themselves and ensure the transaction goes smoothly. (And don't forget that the D.C. government has a sample housing contract available for guidance on its Web site.)

Tips for Those Renting Units/Rooms During Inauguration Week

Draw up a basic, legally binding agreement to secure payment that includes a clause about damaged property. Get 50% of the “rent” as a security deposit in advance.

Give strong consideration to doing a background check of the resident. It costs about $30 to $40 and can be done in minutes. Search for “resident screening” to find a vendor. Incorporate the cost of the screening into what you are charging for “rent.”

Make sure you're protected with insurance - if someone injures themselves in your home you may be liable. Check your policy.

If you currently rent your home and are thinking of sub-letting it for the week - check with your owner to make sure you are legally allowed to do so before you post your advertisement.

Make the resident a duplicate set of keys. Send them via an insured carrier service but do not include your home address anywhere in the package in case it gets lost or stolen before reaching its intended recipient.

Change the locks after they leave. It costs approximately $150 to $175 in parts and labor to do three locks in the DC market. Incorporate this cost into what you charge for rent.

What about pets? If your lease agreement allows them, you'll have to decide if you want to let a renter bring their pet for the week. And, be clear to the resident if no pets are allowed so there are no “surprises” upon your return.

As a courtesy, alert your neighbors that they might see strangers entering and exiting your home during their stay so they don't call the police.

You'll exchange emergency numbers with your renters, but in case you are not immediately reachable leave a second local emergency contact number, especially if you plan to leave the area.

Clean out the refrigerator, make some closet space, etc. Schedule to have a cleaning company come before the renters arrive and after they leave. No one wants to see others' leftovers.

By David A Nakamura  |  January 9, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  | Category:  Housing
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