Steps You Need to Take Before Renting Out Your Property
Renters Warehouse Blog
You’ve found a great investment property, or maybe you’re thinking of renting out your own home.
Congratulations! Now begins the job of getting that property ready to rent.
While preparing your property for rent can seem like an overwhelming process –if you haven’t done it before, the truth is that in most cases, it’s relatively straightforward. Getting your home rent-ready can be a painless –and even exciting process; as long as you have a plan, that is!
From getting your rental ready; with inspections, repairs, and a fresh coat of paint –to making sure you are prepared as well, here’s a look at some steps that you’ll want to take before you start advertising your vacancy.
Prepare Your Home
First things first, you need to start by getting your home, or new-to-you rental in rent-worthy shape.
While the extent of work that’s required will range wildly –depending on what type of property you’ve purchased –for example, a fixer-upper will require a lot more work than a turnkey property, it’s still a good idea to go through the list to ensure that you’ve covered all of your bases.
- Do an Inspection
Get things started by doing, or having an inspection done. This should cover everything from the basics to the more extensive repairs that will need to be done and should include everything from dripping faucets to leaky roofs and beyond. Make a master list of everything that needs attention before you get a tenant in. Make sure you include the small things, such as missing lightbulbs and clogged gutters. Then split your list up into two sections; ‘immediate repairs’ –such as roof repairs or replacing missing window screens and sagging gutters –and ‘projects for down the road’ –bigger, more extensive things that you can plan for in the future, such as new siding, or more major landscaping work.
- Do Necessary Repairs and Upgrades
Next, if there are any upgrades that need to be made, now is a good time to do those as well. This includes things just as replacing old fixtures, making sure all showerheads are still working, and that all appliances are functioning as they should be. While you may not need to do a complete overhaul if things are just starting to show signs of wear, keep in mind that outdated flooring, broken fixtures, and extremely dated features will not help your property to command the best price possible. A good rule of thumb is to try to bring your property in-line with other rentals in the neighborhood. With this approach, you’ll also tend to attract better applicants –who care about the condition of the home.
- Have It Professionally Cleaned
Don’t underestimate the impact of a freshly cleaned property! Feel things will turn a renter away from a property more quickly than musty smells, stained carpet, or grubby fingerprints on the walls.
For this reason, you’ll want to consider having your rental professionally cleaned. Or do it yourself, depending on its condition and whether or not you have a spare afternoon. In most cases, though, it makes sense to call in the pros and have them do a deep clean, along with carpets. They’ll be able to get your rental spic and span in a short amount of time, making it far more appealing to prospective renters.
Applying a fresh coat of paint throughout the unit is another great way to make it more appealing to tenants. A new coat of paint is an economical and relatively simple way to spruce up the entire place. Look for a good shade of white –there are many stylish tones available today, or a neutral color scheme to help the property to look bigger, brighter, and more appealing.
- Ensure Everything Is in Good Working Order
As a landlord, you’re required to provide your tenants with basic essentials. So before your new tenants move in, you’ll want to ensure all the basics –the heating system, plumbing, and electrical are all working and up-to-date. It is advisable to have these systems inspected by a professional so you can rest easy knowing things are all working when you bring a tenant in.
- Change the Locks
While it may sound basic, changing the locks, or having them rekeyed before a new tenant moves in, is important. Not only will this provide some security for your tenants, but it can help to protect you from liability as well. Rekeying a home is relatively inexpensive –and a vital detail that you won’t want to overlook.
- Install Smoke Detectors and CO2 Alarms
While many states require landlords to install working smoke detectors, you’ll want to take the initiative and do this yourself even if it’s not required by law. Likewise, CO2 detectors are another important step. And if you live in an area that’s at risk of radon, you’ll want to consider radon testing to see if your property has elevated levels.
Next, it is important that you take care of some details to ensure you are ready for your tenants as well.
- Understand Your Obligations
First up, it’s important to ensure that you’re aware of your obligations and responsibilities as a landlord. There are important rules and guidelines that vary from state to state, and you’ll want to ensure that you’re familiar with your state and local laws, so you don’t inadvertently end up in the wrong. While legislation varies considerably, most of the rules fall under the following categories:
- Security Deposit
- Disclosure of Owner
- The Eviction Process
See this helpful source from Landlordology: state rental laws and legislation –by state.
- Set the Rent
You may already have a rough figure in mind, but now it is time to buckle down and determine the actual price you are going to charge for rent. Take a look at websites like Zillow and Trulia to see what other, similar properties are going for, and run those figures by your local property manager or Realtor to see what they think. You should also set the amount for the security deposit –keeping in mind that you’ll want to check your state’s legislation to make sure your plans are in compliance with any limits that are in place.
- Prepare the Lease and Paperwork
While it may not be the most enjoyable aspect, the rental agreement is the backbone of your investment, and it’s important that you ensure that you prepare an agreement that’ll cover your bases. A good rental agreement will help to keep both you and your tenants on the same page as far as responsibilities and requirements, and your tenants clear on what’s expected of them.
A good lease should comply with federal, as well as state and city laws. Be sure to include the term of the lease, the process for the security deposit’s processing and return, the rent due-by date, and rules surrounding late fees. You should also be sure to outline who is responsible for what maintenance tasks, pet rules, and the process of eviction. You might consider having an attorney look over your lease first, to ensure that it’s in compliance with the law before you put it into effect. Once completed, you should go over the lease and rules with your tenants and ensure they understand everything that is written and how it applies to them. Then be sure to get their signature. It might feel like overkill, but it is worth protecting your investment.
You should also be sure to have a ‘move in’ checklist prepared to go over with your tenants as you introduce them to their new home. This should outline the condition of the property and list any appliances or furniture that will be included, you should also be sure to get your tenants’ signature on this as well, in case any damage is found during the moveout process.
- Update Your Insurance Policy
Don’t forgo insurance; even if the mortgage is paid off. The coverage for a rental property is different than homeowner’s insurance, so be sure to talk with your insurance agency to see about changing the policy over before you bring tenants in.
- Have a Plan for Management
Finally, if you haven’t already, you’ll also want a plan for managing the property. While many first-time landlords start out doing it all on their own, eventually, you may find that the work involved with overseeing rentals becomes a bit much. Outsourcing to a property manager is one option that long-distance landlords or those who are planning to invest in multiple properties often opt for. Whether you choose to use a property manager or are planning to do it yourself, it’s a good idea to budget for property management costs from the start, so you have options down the road should you decide that you’d like to outsource.
Once you have completed the steps of getting your house tenant-ready, you can start the process of advertising and finding tenants, vetting them, and renting out your property. Congratulations! You are almost there.
Are you ready to start renting out your property? Or maybe you’re still searching for your first rental? If so, be sure to check out: Real Estate Investing 101: Set Yourself Up for Success and What is the Best Way to Get Started in Real Estate Investing? Learn more about getting started with Rent Estate™ today.
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