So you’re thinking about putting your property on the rental market. Maybe it has been a rental for years and you’re facing turnover between tenants. No matter the circumstances, the question is the same: what does my property need in order to be rent-ready?
What does rent-ready even mean?
In our world, “rent-ready” is a comprehensive term that addresses the following:
- The property is clean. We’re talking CLEAN, CLEAN. The outside of the cabinets are wiped down, inside of kitchen drawers and cabinets, inside and outside of all appliances, everything is dusted from the light fixtures to the top of the appliances, to the vents to the baseboards to the blinds. The property is spotless.
- Carpets are steam cleaned. If your rental has carpets, your lease should have a clause requiring the tenants to have the carpets professionally steam-cleaned upon vacating and to provide a receipt upon move out. Of course, you must provide the property in that same condition upon move-in! We are not talking about one of those consumer steam cleaning products – you will need to hire a professional company to do the job right.
- Lock change. If you have the traditional keyed locks, those should be changed or re-keyed between tenants. If you have digital keypads (recommended, and this is something RES is implementing across our managed properties), you merely have to change the codes on your doors. Don’t forget about back doors and don’t forget about changing the garage code!
- Equipment. When we talk about equipment, we are talking about everything your new tenants will need to live in and utilize the rental property. Here’s a list of possible equipment you will need to make sure your new tenants have: Keys (1 set for each adult), mailbox key(s), garage remotes (1 per stall), any amenities passes or keys, any secure building fobs or keys, parking passes, any fan remotes or security system remotes. Depending on your property, this could be a lot of equipment – make sure you document everything in your lease and your move in inspection!
- Light bulbs, AC filter, caulking. These are ordinary turnover items to ensure the property is ready to go. A best practice is to provide 10-12 extra AC filters for your tenants and to follow up to ensure those are being changed (especially if they have pets.) Make sure that not only all bathtubs have fresh caulking, but check the base of all tubs, showers, and counters to ensure there is no way for water to penetrate those surfaces. As they say, an ounce of prevention…
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors. You simply have to make sure these are present and functional. We recommend having a consistent process, whereby your check of these systems is documented during every turnover.
- Function-test all your appliances and plumbing. Check the stove top burners, run the icemaker, run the dishwasher, run the kitchen and bathroom sinks to ensure there are no leaks. Flush the toilets to make sure they don’t run.
- Sweat the details. Missing outlet covers or wall plates, broken slats on blinds, unpatched holes in the drywall, mis-matched light-bulbs -these things all tell prospective tenants you may not be the best landlord. These details need to be right, in order to attract the tenants you want.
- Window coverings. It’s reasonable for tenants to expect window coverings on all windows when moving into a rental property. They don’t have to be Hunter Douglas blinds in most cases, but you will need to ensure windows have coverings that are clean and functional.
- Paint and flooring condition. You don’t need to re-paint an entire property every year, nor do you need to replace carpet every year. At RES, we use a 7-year depreciation schedule for those wear items. But while you may not need to replace these things every year, you absolutely need to make sure they are presentable. Touch up paint should not be noticeable. If there is a wall that needs a touch-up, it often makes sense to paint that entire wall – this way, if the color doesn’t exactly match, it is far less noticeable. With carpet, sometimes you can get away with replacing a single room or a single staircase. If your carpet is worn all the way through, has stains or frays, it’s time to replace it. We suggest hardwood flooring or other solid surface options – they are more expensive but they last even longer, relative to the higher cost.
So, there you have it. Rent-ready condition. The short version of this is “paint, clean and carpet” – as those are the 3 areas that, if done properly, will lead to your shortest vacancy time and your ability to attract the best tenants.
This list is only some of what Real Estate Solutions focuses on for each property we manage, during every turnover. Happy renting!