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If you are renting your new second unit, you will now be a landlord, and there are many things you need to consider. The most important decision you make as a landlord, especially for a second unit on your property, is selecting the tenant. While you will want to have a tenant you feel comfortable with, you also need to follow state and federal requirements that prohibit housing discrimination. In general, you need to use a fair and objective process for screening applicants and choosing a tenant.

Here are some recommendations for selecting a tenant.

  • Use a written rental application
  • Develop written, fair criteria you will use to judge all applicants and apply the criteria consistently with all applicants
  • Do a credit check
  • Require and talk to references
  • Use a decision-making process that is simple, legal and fair

San Mateo County provides funding for Project Sentinel to help people learn to be responsible landlords, including the proper handling of security deposits. Project Sentinel – Tenant/Landlord Assistance

Set your rent: A good starting place is to research what others currently charge for similar units in the area. You can also use our calculator to see rents in your area for similarly sized units.

Find a tenant: There are many places where you can advertise for a tenant. You can also ask friends and acquaintances if they know of anyone who is looking for a place to rent. There are also for profit and local non-profit agencies that can assist in finding tenants. HIP housing has a Home Sharing program where they match two or more unrelated people.

Consider getting paid to help others: The Housing Authority manages a variety of housing subsidy programs to support elderly, persons with disabilities, and low-wage earners to secure stable housing and increase self-sufficiency. In addition to receiving the housing assistance payments via direct deposit, you may also be eligible to receive other financial incentives. To learn more about the current incentives, click here or call (650) 302-3300.

Save for a rainy day: Make sure to set aside funds to cover maintenance and repairs. Also anticipate losing some cash flow during vacancies between tenants. Our calculator can help you see typical costs for this too.

Consider getting paid to help others: This is a good option for homeowners who would like income from their second unit but are not interested in the day-to-day details. HIP Housing has been helping individuals and families find housing for several decades, and can help find, screen, and refer a tenant to you that would benefit from an affordable place to live. More information is available in this flyer or at:

HELPFUL HINT: You can find tenants through, Craigslist, local newspapers, word-of-mouth, social and religious groups, and school districts. Remember to budget for the costs associated with getting the unit ready for the next tenant, such as fresh paint, deep cleaning and carpet replacement.
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