A new lease means getting your property rent ready – fresh and clean with appliances, plumbing fixtures, windows and doors working properly for new tenants to move in.
People tend to take greater care of nice things. So the nicer your property, the better the chance that new tenants will maintain the condition.
We’ve put together this checklist to help you plan your strategy and prepare your property for the rental market.
✓ Consult a Tax Adviser
Before doing anything to your home, we recommend that first you look into the tax implications and requirements of fixing up a property for rental purposes.
✓ Evaluate Property Condition and Your Plans
Assessing the condition of your house isn’t easy. Owners often live with things that don’t bother them, such as a sliding door that comes off the track or a brightly colored wall. Start by making a list of must-dos as well as other things you think would be good to take care of.
Part of the decision-making process about what to do and what not to do is based on your plans for the property. Are you going to rent for one or several years? Do you plan to move back in or keep the property as a long term rental? If you plan to sell, what’s the time frame?
The answers to these questions can help you decide what repairs and improvements to make and when. For instance, if you have hardwood floors that are in decent condition but could use refinishing, it might be best to wait until just before you move back into the property or sell it. However, if you’re going to rent the property for a number of years, refinishing before the first rental often saves prolonged vacancies between tenants.
✓ Clean from Top to Bottom
There are some basics that most tenants want when considering whether to rent your property (or knowing that certain things will be done prior to move in).
Number one is cleaning – and it’s often difficult to satisfy tenants and owners. The best advice is to hire a good, professional company to thoroughly clean after everything is removed from the property. This is not a twice a month type cleaning. It is a top to bottom cleaning, inside and out of cabinets and vanities, light fixtures, window sills, baseboards, appliance – every nook and cranny.
Number two of importance to tenants is painting. It’s potentially the most costly and aggravating expense for homeowners. Although paint aesthetically improves your property, it’s not like replacing carpeting, flooring, appliances – items that you feel are substantial and long lasting. As soon as the paint dries and someone bumps something into the wall, there’s a mark. Nevertheless, tenants want a property that is, or looks like it is, freshly painted.
Neutral or soft coordinated colors are the most desirable. Bright colors that worked for your décor may be a deciding factor in someone’s decision to rent or not rent your property. Promising to paint or change any unacceptable colors is a prudent investment. If you plan to rent for more than one year, it’s usually most cost effective to paint the entire house. Using a neutral color provides a good chance that it can be touched up, if needed, at a much lower cost than total repainting.
After looking at the walls, tenants turn their eyes to carpeting. If the carpet has stains, is frayed or worn especially in high traffic areas, or has pet odors, consider replacing with a neutral color.
Other fix-ups that increase the appeal of your property to tenants, and add value both as a rental or sale, are:
- Counter tops
- Light fixtures
Many of these are expensive but, depending upon your long term plan for the property, might be beneficial to do at the time you first put your property into rental status.
Some upgrades are relatively inexpensive and give the property a bit of a wow factor: Replacing bathroom light fixtures, towel bars, toilet paper holders and shower heads make a big difference without braking the bank. In the kitchen, if the cabinets are in good shape, replacing the counters (granite, stone or Corian) and updating needed appliances help give the kitchen an updated look.
✓ Testing and Refreshing
Make sure all light bulbs match and are working. Burned out or missing light bulbs can turn prospective tenants off when they’re looking at the property.
Run water faucets and check the drainage, temperature and pressure. After turning faucets off, look for leaks.
Check the batteries in smoke detectors, or better yet, replace them with the newer 10 year sealed type. If a smoke detector is in a high, hard to get to area, definitely consider replacing with a long term unit.
Installing a new air filter helps ensure that the tenant will leave it the same way.
For single family homes or some townhouses with a yard that requires ongoing care, there are several options. If you have spent considerable time and or money to improve and maintain your yard, you may want to have a lawn service provide most of the care. Another alternative is to have a company come in twice a year to make sure the shrubs are pruned and the beds are weeded and mulched.
Another consideration, regardless of how much or little the tenant will be responsible for maintaining, is to put in place a chemical treatment program (usually four to five 5 treatments) to fertilize, weed and insect control the grass.
Repair and paint any wood on the exterior, have gutters cleaned, check trees for any potential hazards and if siding, sidewalks, decks and drives need power washing and or sealing, consider having that done to maintain your investment.
✓ Action Plan for Preparing to Rent
When PPM manages your home we can assess the condition, help develop an action plan for what needs to be repaired or replaced, get estimates and coordinate the repairs.
The better your property looks in terms of updating, cleanliness and maintenance, the more likely you are to get top dollar rent for your property and quality tenants that will maintain your home.