Property Management

Long-Distance Landlord: How To Manage a Rental Home From Afar

Written By Melanie Kershaw

Last Updated Apr 2, 2024

A woman works at her laptop from her lounge room, managing her rental home as a landlord while living far away

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Whether you had to move for work or picked up a steal of a property in another city, it’s not uncommon to live far away from a home you rent out. Even more so in 2024. With many homeowners holding onto interest rates too good to give up, renting out a home is often a better option when opportunity knocks in another city. 

This is why we get asked so often, “How do I rent out a property when I live far away?” 

Particularly if you’re considering the DIY self-management route, there’s a lot to consider before taking on the challenge from another state. It’s not impossible, but here are six questions to consider first. 

6 questions to consider before self-managing a rental home out-of-state

1. How often can I travel to my rental home? 

When preparing your home for the rental market, you will need to get it move-in ready. You’ll need to arrange a deep clean, attend to repairs and have professional photographs and video taken for your online listing. These are not remote tasks. Someone will need to be at the home to let in contractors, cleaners, and a real estate photographer.

If you travel to your rental home, be sure to keep accurate records of everything from your trip. You may be eligible to claim some costs such as airfares, hire car and petrol, even hotel accommodation as a tax expense for managing your rental home. 

If travel is too far or just not a viable option, is there someone you trust close by that you could enlist for help? This is where having a property manager or modern alternative like Belong can make the process much smoother, taking care of all preparations and listings on your behalf. If you do hire someone to manage the process, you can claim these fees at tax time too. 

Discover Belong: The best alternative to Property Management in Seattle, Redmond, Oakland, and many more cities across California, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Washington State.     

2. How will I collect the rent?

When you live far away from your rental home, how you collect rent is another consideration. Checks and cash are out of the question! Thankfully, paying rent online is commonplace these days — not to mention safer. 

But before you choose an online platform, be aware that using popular peer-to-peer online payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App can leave you open to disputes and rent payment fraud. While simple and user-friendly, they are not designed for landlords or rent collection. 

There’s also the issue of late payments. Do you have the time and resources to follow up and stay on top of unpaid rent bills from out of state? Aside from the time, effort and stress, the reality is that mortgage and expenses don’t stop adding up when the rent goes unpaid.

This is why guaranteed rent is Belong’s most popular product. It’s proven and beloved by over 2,000 Belong homeowners, who receive their rental income like clockwork (no matter when the residents pay).

Read More: How Guaranteed Rent is Changing Property Management Forever

3. Who will manage home tours and inspections?

Property management is not a set-and-forget kind of job. Aside from the initial tours to lease the home, inspections can help to monitor wear and tear or damage. It’s also an opportunity to connect with your residents to make sure they’re happy and are sticking to the conditions of the lease agreement.

You could opt for video inspections if you have established a good relationship with your tenant. But if this is a new lease or you ask residents to show you around virtually, you could miss important clues to damage or repair needs on the property. 

This is another reason why many long-distance rental owners prefer to hire someone to manage the home for them. If you still want to DIY, you’ll need to enlist some local help for the role of on-site inspections. This could be a trusted friend, an employee, or a service such as Inspectify, who can arrange an inspection report on-site. 

4. How easily can I access good local contractors? 

If there’s a maintenance or repair issue in your rental home, how soon can you respond from afar? It’s an important question for out-of-state landlords, because how you resolve issues is a reflection of your professionalism and can avoid minor issues from turning into costly headaches. 

If you’re fielding maintenance requests from out of state, you will need to have fast access to good local contractors close to your rental home. This is easier said than done, with the US experiencing a major labor shortage in most trades that homeowners need. With so much work to go around, contractors are often drawn to large jobs that pay the most. This can leave rental homeowners waiting months for repairs and maintenance. 

If you don’t have good local knowledge or access to contractors, Belong can help. Our expert team will handle all resident communication and have an extensive vendor network of over 10,000 contractors for fast maintenance and repairs.

Read More: Why Ignoring Rental Home Maintenance Could Cost You More Than Repairs

5. Are local laws different from my home state?

Tenant-landlord legislation varies between states and counties. If you live in Austin, but rent out a home in Seattle, you’ll need to be up to speed with the laws that govern both the state of Washington and the local cities of Seattle. Not doing your homework could land you in hot water if you get it wrong. 

For example, the City of Seattle has unique eviction laws that prevent families from being displaced during a school year. They also have a first-in-time ordinance that you must rent your home to the first qualified applicant. 

This is just one of many varied examples. If you own a rental home in San Diego, you may be responsible for noise complaints against your residents, even while you sleep hundreds of miles away. 

Your options? Get comfortable with local laws or hire a professional to avoid navigating a confusing legal system alone and from afar. 

6. Do the numbers make sense?

Have you done the math on renting out your home? If you’re looking to achieve passive income through real estate, the numbers and time commitments need to make sense. 

Consider the time you have available, travel costs, and the expense of on-site help when needed. Once you’ve considered the personal costs vs outsourcing costs, you can decide if you’ll really be saving enough by going it alone. 

If you choose to partner with Belong to look after your out-of-state rental home, you won’t have to lift a finger. Enjoy guaranteed rent and innovative financial solutions to keep you cash flow positive, the security of home insurance and expert maintenance, plus 24/7 support for you and your residents. 

What’s the difference between property management services and what Belong does? Get the down-low on property management vs Belong PRO in this article

Manage a long-distance rental on your own terms

Belong is simplifying the rental experience across the US and helping homeowners reach their financial goals on their own terms. See why thousands of US homeowners are ditching outdated Property Management in San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas, Tampa, Orlando, Salt Lake City and many more.

Disclaimer: We don’t enjoy using the word ‘landlord’. We prefer to refer to members in our network as homeowners and residents, not landlords and tenants, since we’re on a mission to upend and redefine the traditional landlord-tenant relationship. That said, this article is for homeowners taking the leap for the first time who are looking for answers with more common industry terms like ‘landlords’ and ‘tenants’, so in some instances we have had to stick to the old moniker for owners of rental homes. This article is not intended as financial advice.

About the author

Melanie Kershaw

Mel Kershaw is a Content Lead at Belong. With an extensive background working with technology companies including Eventbrite and Yelp, she’s always looking for ways to create educational and informative articles that simplifies tech and solves problems for her audience.