We’re back with Part 2 of our Learning Series. Last month we talked through the process of finding and acquiring rental units. This month, we’re looking at the next step: getting your rental property ready to rent for Tenants.
This can be a time-consuming and expensive process. To help make this stage of Landlording as efficient as possible, here are some best practices for getting your rental unit ready for quality Tenants and in a condition that will maximize your returns.
1. Make Any Needed Repairs
The first thing you need to do when getting a property ready for Tenants is to ensure everything is working as it should. It’s much easier to fix things before Tenants move in. Plus, you’ll be able to attract and retain better Tenants by ensuring that your unit is in good condition.
If you just bought the property, you might have a list of things that need to be fixed from the inspection report. In addition to that, you’ll want to:
- Test all appliances and systems to ensure they’re working properly. This means testing the hot water heater, turning the oven on and off, running the washer and dryer, testing your heating and cooling systems, and ensuring that all plumbing works properly.
- Inspect the property for any holes, cracks, or leaks and make repairs as needed.
- Test the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries as needed.
- Ensure the HVAC system has a clean air filter.
- Check hardware and fixtures for any problems and make repairs or replacements as needed.
- Check all lights and switches. Replace lightbulbs that don’t work and complete any electrical work necessary.
- Inspect the property for pest issues and treat the property to prevent pest problems.
It’s worth the time and money required to make all the repairs that your property needs. This is essential for ensuring that you’re able to find and retain quality Tenants. Plus, it’s one of the best ways to ensure that your property stays in good condition.
If there are upgrades that your rental unit needs, it’s much easier to do them before Tenants have moved in. That said, you need to be strategic when considering upgrades – only taking on those projects that will improve your ROI, increase the rent you can charge, make your life as a Landlord easier, or attract more quality Tenants.
You don’t want to over-improve your rental, so it’s vital to think about all upgrades in terms of how much they will increase rent or your returns.
To help guide you through this process, here are a few upgrades that add the most value to rental units:
- Flooring. If your rental unit has dirty carpets or damaged flooring, consider upgrading the flooring. You can replace the carpet or broken tiles with a luxury vinyl laminate, which has quickly become a favorite of Landlords because of its affordability and durability.
- Kitchen and Bathroom Upgrades. The kitchen and bathrooms are two areas that Tenants prioritize in rental units. While completely updating these areas is expensive and generally not a good option, some small upgrades can have a big impact on the value of your rental and be worth the time and expense. For example, consider painting cabinets, adding a backsplash, updating the bathroom vanity, or updating fixtures.
- Add Storage. Tenants pay attention to the amount of storage a rental unit has, and ample storage can help to attract top applicants. Consider adding shelving to bathrooms, adding storage space in a laundry room area, or adding cabinets or pantry space to the kitchen.
3. Paint in Neutral Colors
The next thing to think through is whether you need to paint some or all of the unit. This is time-consuming and expensive, yet often necessary. One of the biggest complaints from new Tenants is that the unit has too many colors or too many holes in the wall. Plus, a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to make your unit more attractive to potential Tenants and to get more rent for your unit.
With this in mind, Landlords should always patch and paint any areas with: holes, bright or unusual colors, peeling paint, or paint that looks drab and dirty. Popular color options right now are gray, beige, and white. For 2023, “greige” – a blend of gray and beige – is particularly popular.
When painting, use either satin or semi-gloss paint. These are more durable paints that are easy to clean.
Once you’ve improved the inside, it’s time to consider outdoor spaces. After all, this is the first thing that potential Tenants see, so your unit’s curb appeal will set the tone for how Tenants view your property and form their initial opinions of you as a Landlord.
Here are a few best practices for improving your rental unit’s curb appeal and outdoor spaces:
- Pressure wash the exterior to remove dirt and debris.
- Freshen up the exterior as needed – for example, paint the front door, add a new mailbox, add new house numbers, update fixtures, or add a wreath to the front door.
- Clean up the yard. Mow the grass, get rid of weeds, mulch flower beds, and trim trees and bushes.
- Add low-maintenance landscaping. While landscaping can be expensive, adding some low-maintenance bushes, shrubs, or beds can make the outdoor spaces of your yard more desirable and easier to maintain.
5. Deep Clean Everything
Finally, you need to deep clean the entire unit. This often is a step that Landlords skip, but it’s one of the most important for making sure your unit attracts quality Tenants, and it sets the cleanliness and care standards for your rental unit. You want your Tenants to return the property in the same condition as it was at move-in, so set this bar high!
Because of the importance of this step, it can be worth the expense to have your unit professionally cleaned. If you decide to do it yourself, make sure that you clean everywhere, including behind appliances, on windowsills and door frames, and in closet and storage areas.
While you should clean everything, it’s particularly important to ensure that the kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling and pristine. As you clean, pay attention to any odors in the property and make sure that you deodorize to get the unit smelling fresh.
The Next Step: Pricing and Marketing Your Rental Unit
Hopefully, these 5 tips will help to make it as easy as possible to get your rental unit ready for new Tenants. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start searching for your new Tenant. We’ll be back next month to talk through how to price and market your rental properties.
Kevin is passionate about helping others to become a better Landlord by providing tools and education to help them thrive.