Have you ever considered what you would do with your current home when you’re ready to move on to something a little bigger if you’ve got a family (or smaller if you’re an empty nester)? Most of us just assume that selling the house and taking the short term profit is the best approach to moving on and moving up, but that’s not always the case.

As it turns out, the fallout from the housing implosion of 2008 has created the perfect conditions for homeowners to become landlords. That’s because a slew of new lending regulations has made procuring a mortgage extremely tough for first-time home buyers, even if they’ve got good credit. Throw in a large chunk of potential buyers who are just plain scared of another housing crash, and all of a sudden, the rental market has gone scorching hot.

This is a great opportunity for homeowners who want to turn their secondary homes into a steady stream of income by renting it out. Life as a landlord isn’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to put in the work, it can be a very lucrative endeavor. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge into the rental market.

Am I Ready to Do the Work?

You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that owning two houses means you’ve got to do twice as much maintenance and repairs. A landlord is responsible for all of the physical upkeep of the units he’s renting out and that may extend all the way to mow and watering the yard.

Maintaining two homes is a lot of extra work and you should have a plan in place for dealing with it before you ever welcome a tenant onto your property. If all that work isn’t your cup of tea, you might want to consider hiring a property management firm. For a small percentage of the monthly rent, hired property managers will both care for your property, and find new tenants.

How Will I Find Good Tenants?

Finding a tenant for your property shouldn’t be all that tough given the current market conditions. Simply post up a listing on a free advertising site like Craigslist and you’ll likely be overwhelmed with potential tenants. The challenge then becomes finding quality tenants and successfully holding them accountable for the condition of your property.

What if Things Go Bad?

The best way to stay ahead of tenant troubles is by having an ironclad lease agreement and carefully vetting out tenants through vigorous credit checks and deposits. If you’re at all unsure about how to get started on crafting a lease, we strongly recommend visiting a landlord-specific site like Renting Authority. Sites like this are packed with sample leases, FAQs and plenty of good advice for first-time landlords.

Finally

If you’re up to the challenge of maintaining landlord/tenant relations and answering late night calls to fix plumbing or heating problems, renting out your home can be a great source of extra income.