Did you know that Washington DC residents are renting out their homes for the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration? Residents can stand to earn a pretty penny: the pictured home is renting for $550 a day! The practice is becoming so popular that there's even a website dedicated to the cause. Whether you're a DC resident looking to rent out your house for inauguration weekend, or a homeowner or renter who'd like to do a short-term sublet for an upcoming vacation, it's better to be safe than sorry when offering your home to a stranger. Douglas Culkin, president of the National Apartment Association, notes that, "By taking some basic precautions, people can leave their homes feeling like they have done their due diligence to ensure a smooth renting experience.”
To see tips from the National Apartment Association,
- Draw up a basic, legally binding agreement to secure payment that includes a damaged property clause. Get 50 percent 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 landlord to make sure you are legally allowed to do so before you post your advertisement.
- Make 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. 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, but be clear if no pets are allowed so there are no surprises upon your return.
- As a courtesy, alert your neighbors, who will 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 fridge, 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 the other's leftovers.