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Online tool offers information for property owners

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Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, a statewide human services organization, has launched a new online education tool that offers valuable information for property owners.

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If you just inherited a property, purchased a foreclosed home or are underwater on your mortgage and can't sell your home until the market improves, you might be thinking about renting out your property.

This sounds like a good idea, however, becoming a property owner is not as easy as you think. Before taking the plunge, you'll want to equip yourself with industry knowledge to avoid expensive mistakes, nagging issues with renters and lawsuits. Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has just made it easier.

"Because rules and laws are constantly changing, it's important for property owners to stay informed," explained Dawn Horgan, housing director for Lutheran Social Service. Beyond providing essential information, RentEd. training also provides a certificate of completion. This certificate may offer a discount or assist with compliance with licensing requirements with your city. For example, if you are in the process of purchasing property in Minneapolis and take the training, you'll receive a $250 discount on the $1,000 conversion fee."

"Successful property owners will tell you that knowing the ins and outs of renting your property are essential and can help you avoid unnecessary headaches and worse, serious problems," Horgan added.

RentEd., a 90-minute training program, is available to property owners and managers renting properties in Minnesota and covers eight key areas that can help answer important questions, such as: "Whose responsibility is it to take care of an infestation of bedbugs?" and "What kind of criteria should I use to screen and select renters?"

Horgan said that one of the most basic tools that property owners overlook is having a good lease. Often, property owners simply look to the Internet for a standard lease agreement. "The problem is that these leases try to be as inclusive as possible and can actually take away rights of property owners," Horgan explained.

Eric Piper, a housing inspector with the Metropolitan Council, underscores the importance of training and education, especially for newcomers to the housing industry. "Without training like RentEd., landlords have an empty toolbox," Piper said. "No landlord invests time and energy for fun. Why risk profit margin or being sued when training can help you avoid those risks?"

Sometimes, property owners also overlook something as simple as smoke detectors. "If smoke detectors are not in the right place, that one slip-up can cause you to fail your housing inspection," explained Sue Speakman-Gomez, president at HousingLink. "It's just makes sense to know the rules."

For more information, visit www.getrented.org, call 888.366.5768 or email rented@lssmn.org

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