Renting out your apartment requires a lot of research and work to ensure the space is in top shape. Whether it is a property you have lived in and want to vacate or an investment property, make decisions that give you the best return, while protecting your property and self. Choose between a do-it-yourself approach and hiring a real estate agent to manage the apartment for you.

Prepare the Apartment

Get the apartment ready for the tenant by cleaning and painting the interior and exterior. Check appliances and plumbing to ensure everything works properly. Repair and replace non-functioning appliances such as heaters and air conditioners. Check and repair stairways and outdoor areas such as the balcony to ensure a habitable space, and take care of safety appliances such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

Decide on the Package

Determine rental terms and what you want to offer the tenant. Decide whether you want a month-to-month lease or fixed-term tenancy, and whether it will be a furnished or unfurnished rental. Depending on the size of your apartment, decide on the maximum number of tenants it can accommodate and whether to allow pets. Estimate your rent price by comparing rates of similar apartments in your neighborhood. Be sure to calculate the costs of maintaining the apartment such as mortgage payments, taxes, utilities and legal fees if necessary. The aim is to ensure the rent price you set will make you a profit.

Find a Tenant

Advertise your apartment through friends and family, local dailies and online listings. Include the most relevant information about the house such as location, size and price. You can also choose to use a real estate agent who, using your list of preferences for a tenant, can match you up with a compatible fit at a fee.

Perform a Background Check

Interview prospective tenants in a public place. Confirm their employment status, and check their bank statements and credit reports. Contact former landlords to confirm their experience with the tenant in terms of paying rent on time. Landlords use this information to verify a tenant’s ability to afford and pay rent on time. Check past criminal records and in most states you can ask for proof of legal residence.

Prepare a Legal Contract

Put together a lease agreement, which outlines your obligations as a landlord and those of the tenant. Include the terms of the lease such as the duration of the tenancy, the date when rent is due, eviction procedures and extra charges such as parking and garbage collection. Seal the deal by signing the agreement to make it legally binding.