JOYCE AND ERIC PETERSEN started renting out their house in Westport, Conn., about four years ago when they realized that they didn’t need to be rooted to one place anymore.
Since then, life and family have taken them to Colorado, to Alaska and most recently to California for months at a time. But the Petersens, who are both 61, love their Westport house, and they haven’t considered selling it, even though these days they spend only a few weeks there each year.
“We’re at a very flexible time in our lives, and because we can be mobile, we are,” Mrs. Petersen said. “The challenging part about renting the house out is to make sure that it doesn’t look like a rental, that it’s still your home.”
Accomplishing that, of course, requires an owner to consider and contend with a laundry list of details and concerns. “When you rent,” Mrs. Petersen said, “there are definitely a lot of things to think about.”
From deciding what should go into storage to finding the right tenant to keeping the yard from becoming overgrown when the gardener suddenly stops showing up, the Petersens have learned a number of lessons in their time as temporary landlords.
The most important is probably this: they have hired someone to act as a property manager to avoid trying the patience and good will of neighbors and friends when things go wrong. And they pay all their bills online because mail forwarding “is not what one would hope it would be,” Mrs. Petersen said.