Renter turnover and the prospect of attracting the best possible tenants can be stressful to both property owners and property managers. Here are five tips to consider before you list your rental property.
1. Inspect and repair
Rental property maintenance and inspections should be a top priority. Is there any obvious damage? A broken window, a hole in the wall? Address the property from top to bottom, from potential roof leaks to floor issues. Test the electrical and plumbing, from systems to fixtures. Check outside as well. Are there any eyesores that could bring the attractiveness of your property down, such as a driveway crack or dying landscaping?
Beyond the obvious, some health and safety issues can be harder to spot. If your rental property was constructed before 1978, making sure there are no lead-based paint hazards is important. Checking for leaks or any sign of mold is also paramount. Remember to check the batteries and to make sure the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good, working order.
The initial inspection will often reveal a host of things that need to be done in order for your property or unit to be listed. In a perfect world, your previous tenant left the property in the exact same, pristine condition that they found it. Unfortunately, if you have been a landlord or property manager for longer than a few minutes, you know how likely that is.
Even if the previous tenant left the place in good shape, there are likely areas that have been overlooked. Some of the most neglected areas are the windows and the walls. In the midst of a move, it's easy to miss the windows, especially if they are not particularly dirty. The walls, depending on the paint color, can hide lots of grime and may have never been wiped down. The carpets are another spot with frequently missed areas, specifically the corners where it isn't easy to get to with a vacuum. Don't forget the blinds and ceiling fans!
The kitchen and bathroom are key areas, and need to be spotless. No potential renter wants to move into a place with a dirty toilet or a ring around the bathtub.
3. Evaluate appliances
While inspecting and cleaning the kitchen, take a minute to evaluate the appliances. If you have a traditional, electric range, replacing the drip pans should be something you always do. It is inexpensive and will make a big difference in the appearance of a clean range top. The oven and racks should be thoroughly cleaned, and all of the burners and the oven should be tested. If you have a gas range, the connections should be tested for any potential leakage.
The refrigerator can be one of the most disgusting places in the house. Remove the shelves and drawers if possible and make sure no food debris or mold is lurking in hard to reach areas. While you're in there, make sure the temperature is right. Too cold or not cold enough can spell ruined food and unhappy tenants.
4. Change locks
Whether or not your previous tenant returned their keys, there is no way for you to know if they made additional keys. In the worst case scenario, the previous tenant could come back and rob future tenants. If you're turned off by the expense of changing locks every time you rent your property, you can always offer the renter the option of having it done themselves. Though if you chose this option, make sure they give you a key. You could also look into Kwikset's SmartKey technology. This technology allows you to re-key the locks yourself, without having to call a locksmith.
At this stage, you should consider extra security options that could make your property more attractive to tenants. Things like deadbolts, chain locks and even options of security systems can all be attractive to prospective renters. Don't over-do it! Having too many security features in place may make a perspective tenant think the neighborhood is a dangerous place to live.
5. Determine market value
If it has been a while since your property was on the market, you should take the time to reconsider the market value of your rental. Once the property is rent-ready and you've considered and made any needed updates, it's time to determine your list price. Check out the comparable rentals in the area online and in person. Then evaluate your property in comparison. Take your monthly expenses into account and you're ready to list!