Getting Your Home Ready to Rent

Preparing your property for tenants

Once you make the decision to rent your home, the next few steps aren’t completely different from preparing to sell your home. You want to make sure your home is seen in the best possible light by potential tenants while taking care of any problems that could make your home unlivable or unrentable.

However, there are some key differences that must be done before you find a tenant to sign on the dotted line.

Take Care of Safety Issues

Before renting out your home, you need to know it’s secure from would-be thieves, and so do your tenants.

  • Re-key all outside locks.
  • Change the codes for your garage door and alarm systems.
  • Change or re-key the locks on side gates and mailboxes.
  • Locate any HOA remotes, codes, or keys. You can’t change these, but you’ll want to have them available for your tenants.

You’ll need to go through similar steps with each new tenant in your home. There’s always a chance that someone else will have a key, and you don’t want it to work once the tenants move out.

Clean Up Outside

The curb appeal of your home is just as important when you rent as it is when you sell, especially if you’re asking for a competitive amount each month. What a potential tenant sees when they drive up may be the difference between putting in an application or passing by.

  • Mow the law.
  • Weed flowerbeds.
  • Trim around walkways and sidewalks.
  • Put down fresh mulch, pine needles, or gravel.
  • Pressure wash your home and driveway.
  • Put away lawn furniture and equipment.
  • Make sure outdoor lights work properly.
  • Test spigots, hoses, and other outside water.

If your tenants are going to be responsible for maintaining the outside of your rental, give them a fresh start and make sure everything is in good shape before they move in.

Make the Interior Shine

Clean up the interior of your home before you put it on the rental market and all you’ll need to do before your tenants move in is a quick walk-through and a little cleaning.

  • Change the air filter in the air conditioner/heating unit.
  • Get your HVAC serviced.
  • Change out any dim or dead lightbulbs.
  • Check your ceiling fans to make sure they work properly and dust them.
  • Clean and repair or replace screens on windows and patios.
  • Repair plumbing or electrical issues.
  • Patch holes in the walls and add a fresh coat of paint.
  • Have the carpets professionally cleaned.
  • Clean the windows and make sure they open and close properly.
  • Remove valuable appliances or furnishings, if you’re renting your home furnished, that you don’t want damaged by tenants. Replace these items with something usable in good condition.
  • Schedule pest control service, especially if pests are a common issue in your home.

When tenants move out, you’ll have to assess what needs to be repaired or cleaned, especially in order to refund part or all of their security deposit. Each tenant must start with a home in good repair and condition first. This will also help you ask a higher price and find a better tenant.

Call the Professionals

Many people believe they can put a “For Rent” sign and buy a blank lease, and call it a day. Not quite. There are a few calls you need to make before you rent your home.

Talk to your insurance agent. Depending on the length of time you’re planning on renting, you may need a landlord or rental insurance policy. It will likely be a higher cost than your standard homeowner policy because of the possibility of damage the tenants may cause.

Talk to your lender. Most mortgages require the permission of the lender before you can rent your home. You may also have to pay a fee, too.

Talk to a property manager. Decide if you’re going to use a property management company or handle the work yourself. Interview different property managers to find out what kind of service they offer, if they’re a good fit for you, and what kind of fee they charge. A good property management company will charge you a competitive fee for your market and take on all the hassles of renting and maintaining your property for you.

Don’t be overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done to rent out your home. When in doubt, look for a property management company first so they can walk you through all the steps and help you get your home ready for a tenant. You don’t have to do this alone.

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