The influx of visitors to DC for Obama’s second swearing-in is expected to pale in comparison with 2008. But if you’re thinking of renting your home for the inauguration, here are some pointers to keep in mind:
You’re entering into a lease—treat it that way. Spend the money to buy a legal lease either online, at an office supply store, or bum one off a real estate agent friend (check that it’s legal for your jurisdiction). If something does go wrong, you won’t regret having a legally enforceable agreement that dictates things like move in/move out times, damage to property, and the like.
You’re bound by fair housing laws when you advertise and when you choose a tenant. Focus on the property and its features, and not on the type of tenant you’re looking for. Also, different jurisdictions have additional protected classes. Be sure to know the laws of your state and county/city in addition to the federal regulations.
Protect your property. Charge a security deposit. Consider an extra deposit if tenants are bringing pets. Complete a move-in inspection with your tenant, and complete another one as soon as they vacate. Make sure everything is in writing. Take lots of photos prior to them moving in, and then take photos of anything you think was damaged. If you won’t allow pets or smoking, specify that in your written agreement. The same goes for parties.
Have prospective tenants complete an application. Consider running a credit report on your tenant (you need to get their permission). You can find an online service, like this one, to help with this. You may want to consider using PayPal, or just require the tenant to provide full payment in advance to make sure the check clears, so you don’t have to worry about a credit report. However, we believe a credit report gives you a good indication of the level of respect the person will give your property.
If you are currently a tenant yourself, make sure your lease allows for sublets. If not, you will be responsible for any and all damages your “guests” do, and may be subject to other penalties.
Charge a non-refundable deposit, and make sure the check clears (if you are accepting checks). Consider requiring a cashier’s check or money order.
Keep in mind the potential tax consequences. Most of the time you don’t have to worry, but consult your accountant.
Consider insurance implications. What if someone gets hurt in your home? What if the stove is left on and causes a fire? Your homeowner’s insurance may have a clause that will void your coverage if you engage in a for-profit rental—check with your insurance carrier, and be sure you understand the risks!
If you have any questions about renting your home for inauguration, just contact us!