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6 Ways to Make Passive Income Through Rental Properties Rental properties can help you earn passive income and even begin building generational wealth.

By Ryan Barone Edited by Maria Bailey

Key Takeaways

  • 1. Traditional investment properties
  • 2. The accidental rental
  • 3. House hacking
  • 4. Built-for-rent
  • 5. Mixed-use properties
  • 6. Storage units

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the oldest and easiest ways to create passive income is through rental properties. Luckily for investors and entrepreneurs, the property rental market remains strong and continues to grow. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 35% of households in the U.S. rent homes. Additionally, RentCafe reported that multifamily construction in 2022 reached a 50-year high nationwide, and according to Axios, "one million rental units are slated for completion through 2025."

Additionally, a recent GoBankingRates survey revealed that 14% of Americans don't believe they will ever be able to afford a home, and 27% have no interest in buying a home, contributing to the demand for rental housing options. This is due to a variety of factors, including a low inventory of homes for purchase, barriers to homeownership such as high prices and high-interest rates, and a growing nomadic workforce that doesn't want to be tied down to one location.

Although rents appear to be stabilizing, demand for rental properties is still high and on-time rental collection rates recently rose above pre-pandemic levels. That means now may be a good time to rent out property, which may be easier than you think.

Here are six types of rental properties that can help you earn passive income and even begin building generational wealth.

1. Traditional investment properties

Traditional investment properties have long been a popular choice for those seeking to generate passive income through rentals. It's a rather simple concept: purchase a property, find tenants to rent it out and collect monthly rental income. Investors have the opportunity to decide whether to invest in long-term, mid-term, or short-term (vacation) rentals.

Long-term rentals offer stability in rental rates and cash flow with a reduced risk of vacancies, while vacation rentals and short-term stays allow for higher rental rates with a higher risk of vacancies. Vacation rentals are also less passive, requiring more work to clean and ready the property in between stays and find tenants on a much more frequent basis. But the returns on investment can be much higher.

There's also a "mid-term rental" investment option, where the lease lasts for more than one month but less than one year (college student housing would fit into this category). Mid-term rentals require a bigger time investment than long-term properties but aren't as demanding as short-term rentals. Some investors may want to diversify their rental property portfolio by owning a mixture of long-term, mid-term, and short-term rental properties, while others may commit to whichever style best suits their preferences.

2. The accidental rental

Investing in a new property isn't always necessary to become a rental property entrepreneur. There are instances where you may already own extra property, such as a vacation home, a newly inherited property or perhaps you recently got married and both you and your spouse own your own home. Instead of selling these extra properties, you may consider renting them out.

Sometimes, it's more beneficial to hold on to a property over the long term rather than collecting a quick payout. Retaining properties for rental purposes cannot only help you build more real estate equity, but it can bring in a significant amount of passive income as well (and you may benefit from tax savings, but consult a tax professional on that). Combining the extra income with long-term equity gains can contribute to building generational wealth.

3. House hacking

Another strategy that has gained traction in recent years is "house hacking." House hacking involves renting out a portion of your own home. If you own or purchase a property that is bigger than your housing needs, and you're looking for a way to earn some extra cash, rent out a room (or several rooms).

House hacking allows you to significantly reduce or eliminate your own housing expenses by using the rental income from renting out extra rooms to help pay down your mortgage and/or offset utilities and other costs of homeownership. House hacking can be a great way to start building passive income without the need for a large initial investment.

4. Built-for-rent

A growing trend in real estate is the "built-for-rent" market. Built-for-rent homes are built by companies that specifically design their properties for rental purposes only. These properties are often strategically located in desirable areas, ensuring high demand and consistent occupancy rates, and are marketed to people looking to maximize their returns on investment in the real estate industry.

Investing in built-for-rent properties has become one of the most lucrative ways to generate a steady stream of passive income. By purchasing residential properties specifically designed for rental purposes, you can benefit from a consistent monthly income with minimal involvement. Typically, the built-for-rent company handles all aspects of property management, including finding tenants, handling maintenance and repairs, and collecting rent. This enables you to sit back and enjoy your rental income without the stress and time commitment associated with traditional real estate investments.

5. Mixed-use properties

A mixed-use property is a real estate asset that combines both commercial and residential spaces. This provides a unique opportunity to rent out both residential and commercial units. Leveraging the potential of these properties can lead to a sustainable and reliable passive income source, but there are several strategies to consider.

One effective strategy for generating passive income through mixed-use properties is maximizing rental yields. This can be achieved by strategically curating a mix of commercial and residential tenants that complement each other. For example, having a retail shop on the ground floor of a residential building can attract more tenants and increase rental demand.

Another strategy is to focus on choosing the right location for your mixed-use property by conducting thorough market research to identify the most profitable locations. For example, investing in areas with strong growth potential, high foot traffic, and a good mix of commercial and residential demand can increase the value and attractiveness of your property.

In addition, look for other shared space opportunities like coworking spaces that provide short-term or flexible rental options that cater to the evolving and increasingly nomadic habits of modern workers. By taking an innovative approach to offering mixed-use rental spaces, you can tap into a variety of rental markets and maximize their passive income potential.

6. Storage units

When you think of rental properties, storage units usually don't come to mind. However, renting out storage space can also generate passive income streams. There is a high demand for storage space, and fulfilling this need can help you earn money effortlessly by maximizing unused space. In addition to renting out traditional storage units, people can also rent out space in garages, basements, attics, and spare rooms. By getting creative and marketing effectively, you can effectively turn your empty spaces into profitable assets.

Regardless of what kind of property you decide to rent out, technological advancements have streamlined property management, making it a more efficient and attractive endeavor. Property management tools and software automate many routine, time-consuming tasks such as listings, tenant screening, rent collection, and maintenance requests. This means you can spend less time on administrative duties and focus more on more important life activities, all while maximizing your passive income.

Ryan Barone

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Co-founder and CEO of RentRedi

Ryan Barone founded RentRedi, a property management software that eases the renting experience by automating rent collection, property listings, tenant screening and maintenance requests. RentRedi has more than 20,000 actively subscribed landlords who manage over 100,000 units and $20B in assets.

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