While many real estate agents work with home buyers and sellers, others choose to work with renters. With over a third of American adults renting rather than owning, it’s a large market, full of opportunities! Working with renters comes with the same great benefits as working with buyers:
Good income potential
The opportunity to meet interesting people
The satisfaction of helping someone find a home
Depending on how you position yourself to work with renters, you could also enjoy the flexible hours of a real estate agent. Or you could benefit from the regular working hours and stable income of a leasing agent.
In this article, we’ll show you your options for serving renters as a licensed real estate agent. And we’ll break down the day-to-day responsibilities of being a rental agent.
Rental Broker vs. Leasing Agent
Rental agents can be classified as rental brokers or leasing agents.
What Is a Rental Broker?
Rental brokers are just like buyer’s agents, except they specialize in rentals rather than purchases. This is common in competitive rental markets like New York City. Renters hire a rental broker to scour the rental market to find a suitable apartment. Then, once the rental broker has delivered and the renter signs a lease, the renter pays the broker a fee (often equal to one month's rent or 10% of the annual rental amount).
When you position yourself as a rental broker, you typically work independently. You get to set your own schedule and have control over how you run your business.
What Is a Leasing Agent?
Leasing agents, on the other hand, work for a property owner or property management company. They still help renters find a home and sign a lease, but they’re typically limited to the properties owned by a single owner. In many cases, leasing agents work for a specific apartment community and only show units in that building. Leasing agents are paid by the property owner or property management company rather than by the renters.
When you take a position as a leasing agent, you still have a boss and a set schedule. But you also have a more stable income. Leasing agents are typically hourly or salaried with bonuses for new leases and renewals.
What Does a Rental Agent Do?
Whether you position yourself as a rental broker or a leasing agent, you can help renters through your day-to-day responsibilities:
Notifying renters of vacancies.
Showing apartments and homes to renters.
Providing rental applications to renters.
Drafting and/or reviewing leases.
Explaining the basics of the lease to your renters.
Serving as a liaison between your renters and the property owner or property manager.
Confirming that the unit is move-in ready before moving day.
Walking through the unit with your renters on move-in day to note the condition of the space.
Drafting and/or reviewing lease renewals as needed.
Additional Responsibilities for Leasing Agents
If you decide to position yourself as a leasing agent, you’ll have just as many responsibilities to the property owner or property manager as you will to the renter. You might not have all the duties of a property manager, but you will be responsible for the leasing-related tasks, which include:
Marketing available units to help find renters.
Answering questions about the available units from prospective renters.
Accepting rental applications, along with any required application fees.
Running credit checks, rental history inquiries, and/or background checks on prospective renters.
Confirming that the renter selection process complies with Fair Housing Laws.
Collecting the security deposit and first month’s rent.
Providing the keys to the new renters.
How to Become a Rental Agent
Being a rental broker requires a real estate license. And, while a license isn’t always necessary for leasing agents (depending on your state), it’s immensely helpful for getting hired. Luckily, getting a real estate license is easier than ever before thanks to fun, affordable online real estate courses!
You simply complete your real estate course, pass your state exam, and apply to your state board for your license. The entire process can be completed in just a few months! Then you can focus on helping renters find a new place to call home.