I'm Thinking of Becoming a Landlord: What Do I Need To know?

If you own property you plan to rent out, or are thinking of buying some, you have an important role as a landlord. Affordable rental housing is scarce in the disaster areas and much more is needed. If managed well, rental property can earn income, and over time can be a good investment of your time and money. If you buy a rental property and live in one unit and rent out the others, the income can help you afford your mortgage.

At the same time, being a landlord has tax and legal responsibilities and some risks that you would not have if you just lived in your own home.

New Responsibilities

Remember that being a landlord is like having a small business, so be ready for the extra work. As a landlord you will have to:

  • Find reliable tenants Handle security deposits
  • Collect monthly rents
  • Maintain your property and respond to maintenance emergencies
  • Evict tenants who do not comply with the lease
  • Pay the mortgage (if any) and for repairs when they are needed
  • File taxes on your rental property
  • Keep careful records

Training Opportunities

If you're new to being a landlord, you will need to learn good habits and tips. See if your local housing counseling agency offers landlord classes (look under Finding an Advocate, earlier in this guide for guidance on finding a housing counseling agency). A publication from Fannie Mae, Becoming a Landlord: Rewards, Risks, and Responsibilities, is an excellent guide to the in's and out's of being a landlord. It's available online at www. efanniemae.com/lc/publications/pdf/landlord.pdf