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Published: Sunday, August 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Real estate Q&A: Don't reject tenants solely due to poor credit scores

Question: I relocated overseas for my job and want to rent out my house while I'm gone. Who can I get to help me do this and what should I watch out for?
Answer: Being a landlord is not without its difficulties. But with proper planning, and a little luck, it can be very rewarding.
As an absentee landlord, you'll need to find a licensed real estate broker to help market and lease the property. You'll want to look for a broker with plenty of experience in screening potential tenants and managing properties. The most important part of renting a property is finding good tenants.
I recommend reviewing their credit histories. But remember that people are more than a credit score. The Great Recession forced many consumers into bankruptcy and foreclosure, so don't let that automatically disqualify a prospect. But you should find out the circumstances behind the problem and whether the issues still exist.
Do background checks to see if they had prior evictions or other warning signs that they might not be the best people to live in your home. Be picky. It's much better to leave your home vacant a few extra weeks than spend months evicting a bad tenant and repairing the house.
Once you have rented the home, make sure your property manager gets all repairs done quickly and keeps the tenant happy. By showing that you care about the house, your tenant most likely will take better care of it, too. If your tenant does miss a payment, it's best to take swift action. While I do recommend trying to work with your tenant during a temporary hardship, don't let him or her take advantage of you.
Story tags » Personal Finance

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