No landlord likes dealing with tenant turnover however, it is a critical part of the job. How you deliver the rental to your tenant often sets the tone for the rest of the lease. If the property is sloppy, or even dirty, your tenants will feel that since you don’t take care of it they don’t need to either. They will be resentful from the first month which leads to property neglect, late payments and increased wear and tear. On the flip side if the property dazzles they will want to maintain it as long as possible. They will go the extra mile to make sure they take care of everything and will call you at the first sign of trouble. They may also be inclined to renew their lease or recommend someone simply based on the first impression. Dealing with tenant turnover isn’t easy but here are five items you must do prior to any new tenant moving in.
- Professional Clean. There is a big difference in a few hours of cleaning and having the property professionally cleaned. Even if you are armed with a bucketful of cleaning supplies and hours of time you may not get the property as clean as it should be. Of all the items to spend money on at the end of the lease cleaning should be the most important. It is not enough to simply wipe the kitchen sink and be done with it. You need to clean the refrigerator, bleach the tub, dust the curtains and steam the carpet. These are items that a professional house cleaner notices. A tenant wants to open the door to their rental and immediately feel like home. If the property is clean and smells nice they will have this feeling and want to stay there as long as possible. Spending a few hundred dollars to have the property professional cleaned is worth every penny.
- Paint. There are many landlords who think the walls are “good enough” for a rental property. Even if they are in average condition you should consider hitting them with a fresh coat of paint. Your tenants are not going to treat the property the same way you would. They are going to put their dirty hands on the walls and if they have kids you can bet there will be something written in crayon somewhere. Painting the walls is not a massive expense. Since most landlords prefer to keep the walls a neutral color you are simply painting over the existing color which means you don’t have to prime and can probably get away with just one coat. Dirty walls stand out in an otherwise clean rental. You can do everything else right but if the walls are a mess this is what your tenants will notice.
- Declutter. You should not treat your rental property like your own personal storage bin. When you deliver a rental to a new tenant it should be cleaned from top to bottom. Many landlords will clean the interior but forget about the basement, garage and attic. While these are not obvious items they still need to be addressed. Start by removing any large sized items that you have been moving around the house for years. The basement may seem like a good place for storage but you are decreasing the value of your rental. If you have advertised use of the basement or garage you need to follow through on it. Depending on the items you can possibly get away with renting a pickup truck and taking a trip to the local dumpster. If they are too big you may need a small dumpster to get rid of items accumulated over the years. This usually doesn’t take more than a few hours and maybe the help of a few friends. The end of a lease is a good time to declutter and give your rental a fresh look.
- Exterior Clean Up. As important as cleaning the interior is you can’t ignore the outside. The exterior is the true first impression your tenants have of the property. If there is garbage or old toys near the garage they will be less than enthusiastic with the property. The same is the case if the bushes are overgrown or the grass needs to be cut. You should take a walk around the yard and see if there is any debris by the back-yard fence or approaching the front door. Putting down a fresh layer of mulch or placing some plants on the front steps certainly won’t break the budget but should be considered before your new tenants arrive.
- Utility Changeover. The final item you should do is have your new tenants change over any utilities in their name. It is not uncommon to wait weeks before a cable company can schedule a new service appointment. Your tenant will appreciate if you give them enough notice so the cable can be in as soon as their lease starts. The same is the case with the electricity. Even if this is simply a phone call it should be done at least a few days before the start date so there are no issues.
The little things you do as a landlord often have the greatest impact. Focus on these five items before the start of ever new lease.