Is Your Vacant Rental Property Tenant Ready?
Getting your vacant property tenant ready before you show it is the fastest way to get your property rented. A vacant property can be a scary thing for any landlord. It can be easy to rush the process of getting your vacant rental ready for a new tenant. I know how tempting it can be to just go ahead and start showing the property before it is really ready to show. No one wants their property to sit vacant for too long.
There can be advantages to getting it listed and start getting people in to see the property. However, if the property is actually dirty from the previous tenant, I would caution against showing it. A tenant ready house will rent faster. Construction debris and dust are a lot different that a house that a previous tenant never cleaned and has previous tenant funk.
Hopefully you have properly listed the property and are only showing it to pre-screened parties. You should have a list of pre-qualified people to look at your rental home. This is your chance to get your house rented quickly.
Whether you are using a lock box or you intend to have an open house, prospective tenants first impression is very important. You only want them to have a good first impression. Hopefully, the property looks great on the outside and everyone oohs and aahs over it. But, that happiness will turn to dismay and disgust as soon as they walk inside if all they see is a dirty and grimy property because is isn’t tenant ready.
I ran into a landlord friend of mine at at meeting and found out he had just listed a house for rent in a popular area of town. He told me his contractor had gotten sick and it had taken longer than planned to get the house fixed up. So when the contractor finally told him it was ready to go, he was thrilled.
I talked to him about three weeks later and asked him if he had any luck getting it rented and he said no. According to him, he got a lot of phone calls about it. Everyone he talked to was excited to see it and then nothing. I suggested that he call them up and ask them what they liked about the house and what they didn’t like. He was able to get 2 people to be honest with him. Both people said the house was dirty and dark and there were several things that were broken.
He called me back and told me what they said but kept insisting it was fine and wasn’t that dirty. I told him that his opinion didn’t matter. If the people touring the property thought it was dirty, then it was dirty, which means that it wasn’t tenant ready. I asked him if he hired a professional cleaning service and he said no. He said the contractor told him it was clean enough and didn’t need to be professionally cleaned After talking to him some more, he casually mentioned that it was probably dark because the contractor had run out of light bulbs and a lot of the bulbs were missing.
I strongly recommended that he either go clean the house himself or have it professionally cleaned. The rent on this house was $1,200 a month. He got a couple of cleaning quotes and the cheapest cleaning service he called wanted $250 because it was so dirty. He had lost 4 weeks rent to that point at a cost of $1,200. It would have been cheaper to hire the cleaning company!
He called everyone back who initially toured the property but was only able to get a few of them to go back and none of them wanted it. The problem was that because it wasn’t tenant ready on their first tour, they were not willing to risk that anything had actually be done to fix the issues. Once formed, a bad impression is difficult to get past. The lesson here is to be very critical of the cleanliness of the house and hire a professional to clean it. Once people start touring it or you hold open houses, be prepared to either go back and touch it up yourself or pay someone to do so. This will be especially important during bad weather. Wet or snowy weather will allow shoes to drag in dirt, leaves and ice melt.
Once it was cleaned and a bunch of light bulbs were installed, the property finally rented. But, few people can move in right away. It took another two weeks to get someone to sign a lease and move in. He ended up losing a lot of rent money just because he didn’t spend a little more money to get it rent ready.
Remember, tenants will always notice the dirt or dead bugs. Most of them will notice when it feels clean too. To be honest, do you want tenants who are willing to overlook the dirt? I know I don’t! I want a tenant who actually knows how to keep both the inside and the outside clean and looking nice.
Be sure you have these items with you at all times:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Furniture polish (Cleans and smells great)
- Broom and dust pan
- Extra lightbulbs
- Mop and bucket
- Rags, sponges, towels
- Cleaners – glass and ceramic
- Toilet bowl brush
- New smoke detector (just in case)
- Touch up paint
- Trash bags
- Rubber gloves
- Screw drivers, hammers, nails
- Extra furnace filter
Getting It Tenant Ready
It’s impossible to cover every single thing but use some common sense and be sure and notice things that would bother you if you were renting. A tenant ready house will not have anything glaring that still needs to be done.
Do a check to make sure none of the doors or the cabinets squeak and that none of them stick. While minor, these things tend to be pet peeves of renters and they are simple fixes. Make sure that all of the locks work on the doors and windows, all of the windows should open and stay up and the screens should be in place and not torn.
Make sure the toilets all flush and that the toilet and bathtub/shower area are clean! Nothing grosses out a prospective tenant faster than a dirty bathroom.
The kitchen cabinets and any closets should be swept out. Make sure there is no grease on the walls or floors. Major yuck factor!
The house should not only look clean, it should smell clean as well!
Check the outside as well. The grass needs to be freshly cut and weed wacked as needed. The paint on the house should not be peeling and if there is vinyl make sure it is secure. The gutters and downspouts should all be in place and look good. The landscaping should be neatly trimmed and look nice. Remove any bushes that look bad and plant new ones as needed. Add some mulch so it looks fresh and neat.
Your goal is to get the property rented as quickly as possible. To that end, you must make the entire home, both inside and outside, look so inviting that prospective tenants will be able to picture themselves living there.
All of these jobs can certainly be hired out, but it is your job to make sure it was done right so that you are not embarrassed during your open house! At the end of the day, the money will come of your pocket as lost rent if there are long delays in renting the property.
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