Can you get an FHA loan for an investment property?

FHA loans are intended for owner-occupied properties, not investment properties. However, there are exceptions to this.

If you live in a duplex, you can get an FHA loan for the whole property while living in one and renting out the second unit. The FHA gives loans for owner-occupied properties with up to four units. This means you can buy a four unit complex with an FHA loan and rent out the other three units, provided you live in at least one.

The other occasion FHA loans cover rental property is when you've moved out of the home. If you bought the property under an FHA loan and have to move, you can retain the FHA mortgage on the property while renting it out. The home you've previously lived in can also be refinanced under the FHA streamline refinance program. You can even get a second FHA mortgage for a new home if you have at least 25% equity in the old house, and you moved out as your family grew. The FHA's only limitation on this practice is that you've lived in the property for at least twelve months.

If you buy it, move in and then move out, the FHA can sue you for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The FHA doesn't set rental rates when you rent out the property, but it is your responsibility - not the renter's responsibility - to pay the FHA mortgage payments on time and in full.

One small caveat to the FHA rental rules is when you first buy the home. The prior occupants may still live in it when you close. When you take out an FHA mortgage, you must move in within 60 days of closing. You can let the prior occupants rent for the 60 days until you move in. This is technical renting out the property.