Before You Rent Out That Mortgage Helper, here are Some Tips

By Randall Orser | Small Business

You’ve been able to buy that new home you want, and it came with an income suite, which can be financially fruitful. To be a good property manager, you should manage your rental as you would a business, which means you need to be an able planner and keep good records (especially for the taxman). For a first-time landlord, renting out your house to an outsider can be quite the challenge. The following four items are something you should know before renting out that mortgage helper.

Keep Your Property Presentable

You must keep up the property in a tidy manner, no one wants to rent a messy place. You may also get a higher rent if you maintain the property, and keep it looking nice. Your renters will feel more confidence that you are a professional landlord when the residence is maintained. If something is in need of repair, fix it, clean up the floors and walls and keep up the landscaping; this makes your rental much more attractive to potential tenants.

Rental properties will need periodic repairs. If you’re not handy yourself, it is a good idea to find a local handyman you can rely on when needed. Your job as a landlord will be much easier if you can find reliable professionals you can call on when needed. Yes, it’s going to cost you money to maintain the property, however, it could cost you more in lost tenants. Plus, you get to write off minor repairs off the rental income.

Always Get it in Writing

That old adage is never truer than when being a landlord. You need to have a tenancy agreement, though there is no standard agreement you must use. You can look at one of those online law documents services and grab one from there, or chat with a lawyer that specializes in rentals. If you decide to just create your own, it is advisable to have a lawyer check it over for its legality.

You should include the following details in any tenancy agreement:

· Start and end date of the rental term

· Security deposit amount

· Monthly rental amount

· The date of the month the rent is due

· Acceptable methods of payment

o How rent should be paid

· If you are allowing direct payments into your bank account, you need to note on the form your bank details.

· The number of keys your giving the tenant

· Who’s responsible for utilities and maintenance

· Any additional fees and disclosures

Depending on your particular circumstances, you may want to incorporate other terms you deem appropriate.

Some other forms to include:

· Pre-tenancy application form

· Security deposit receipt form

It may be a good idea to contact a property law specialist to help create the tenancy agreement to your particular needs. The lawyer will be over legal disclosure requirements and explain how insurance can curb your liability.

Acquiring Great Tenants

The beginning of a successful landlord-tenant relationship is to get the right tenants. To find financially suitable applicants for your property seek the help of a credit check agency. After that, there are tools that can help you locate good tenants. Look for a local property investment association, as this can be a great resource for networking with other landlords. You’ll be able to get tips, and share yours, that you and they have learned over the years.

The Taxman Cometh

You need to include rental income on your tax return, using form T776 Statement of Real Estate Rentals. You must keep accurate records of your rental income and expenses each year. These records help you figure out your net profit for the year. The tax you pay will depend on the net income from the rental; any losses will be deducted from your other income and if you have no other income will be carried forward to the next year. Whether a long-term or short-term rental, most rental receipts are considered income for tax purposes.

If your mortgage helper is for a parent, grandparent, or sibling, they are considered a ‘related person’. You may still have to report the income as rental income, however, if you’re renting below fair market value, you won’t be able to write-off any losses, and will have to report the income differently.

Airbnb is a big thing now, and you need to realize if you’re doing this regularly, then you need to claim it as rental income. You get the same expenses as if it was a long-term rental, plus you can write off bedding and towels that you use exclusively for this rental, and if you supply soap, etc. too. If you supply meals, then the income may be considered business income and not rental income.

Your mortgage helper can definitely help pay for the mortgage and make your dream home more affordable. With experience, managing the rental side does get easier. Finding a good property manager, lawyer and tax preparer can help you manage the details.

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