Your first step when renting any property is to prepare it for the tenant. This means restoring it to a suitable condition, much like if you were going to sell it.
If it’s a newly acquired rental, this is your first step. If you’re re-renting a property, this is still your first step.
Both professional property managers and accidental landlords too often skip this step because “it’s just a rental.” That is a huge mistake! Your property’s condition directly affects the type of tenant you attract and how a tenant will treat your property. A poorly maintained property sends a message to the tenant that you don’t care.
Like attracts like. Crappy rentals attract crappy tenants. High-quality rentals attract high-quality tenants.
Clean well, make repairs, replace or upgrade necessary fixtures and appliances, landscape, and prioritize safety. (Reference the detailed checklist at the end of this section to make sure you cover all the bases.)
Charge a nonrefundable cleaning fee at the beginning of each tenancy to lower your preparation
6 Tips to Save Time and Money
Take care of maintenance issues regularly.
When you avoid cleaning, painting, and making repairs, you are deferring maintenance. You may think it saves you money, but in the long-run deferred maintenance costs more. In fact, it sends a dangerous message to the tenants:
I don’t care about my property. Why should you?
Good tenants will leave in search for a better maintained rental, leaving you with those
who don’t mind the shabby conditions.
Deferred maintenance also lowers the value of your property. If you decide to sell, you either spend extra time and money to bring the property up to selling standards or sell at a lower price. It’s much easier and less expensive to take care of maintenance issues regularly. You’ll get better tenants at a higher rent price, and your property will maintain its value.
Save 5-7 percent of your gross rental income for maintenance.
We recommend keeping 5 to 7 percent of your gross yearly rental income in reserve for unexpected and costly repairs (like a roof repair or AC replacement). This is a better option than paying hundreds of dollars to home warranty companies every year.
Use one paint color for all rooms and all rentals.
Using one color saves money and time when repainting. Painting over the same color can be done in hours instead of days. Plus, the amount of paint you’ll need on hand for one color is much less. We prefer contemporary colors, like beige or grey, for an updated and modern look.
For interior design and advice check out Houzz . You can ask professional designers questions and browse through millions of photos.
Install Tile, Hardwood or Laminate Floor Instead of Carpet
Tenants prefer wood or tile floors, especially in the living area. Using wood or tile makes your property more appealing to future tenants and it means that you’ll never have to pay for carpet cleaning or replacement again. If replacing the carpet with wood or tile is not an option, try professional cleaning, stretching or patching damaged carpet.
Email your tenant a move-out checklist
Not everyone has the same idea of “clean”, and not all people think to clean the same things. On move out day, our tenants know exactly how much cleaning is expected of them via the move out checklist. It removes uncertainty and ensures that you and the tenant are on the same page, and it’s especially helpful if you don’t collect cleaning fees. (Here is an example of our letter. You can fill it with your information and email it directly to your tenants)
Continuously upgrade your property in order to stay competitive
Tenants have certain expectations, and not meeting those expectations makes it difficult to attract high-quality renters. Here’s an example:
One of our clients bought a higher end builder model home and turned it into a rental. He purchased the property without appliances and then installed the cheapest stove and refrigerator you can buy from Home Depot. The house was in perfect condition, but it was hard to rent out because the tenants were expecting more than the lowest quality appliances. After we upgraded the appliances to suit tenants’ expectations, the home rented immediately.
Before you decide how much to upgrade, investigate what similar properties have. Surveying competing properties can help you gauge how to meet tenants’ expectations as inexpensively as possible—improving your ROI and reducing vacancy risk.
Landlording is not mom and pop business anymore. In some areas half of the rentals are managed professionally and or are owned by large institutions. The market is not as forgiving as it was years ago.