There are a lot of things that tenants need to know when they move into a rental property that is a single family home.  Taking the time to educate them will save you a lot of time, money and frustration.  Do not assume your tenant knows where everything is or how to do even basic things.  Assume that your tenant knows nothing and fill in the blanks.

Where Are The Main Water Shut Off And Gas Shut Off?

The main water shut off and the main gas shut off are something that every landlord and tenant needs to know the location of. I have had several cases over the years that involved tenants breaking off tub faucets or hose faucets and water just shooting out of the wall. They always call the office in a panic, usually after hours. This can cause terrible damage if no one knows where the water shut off is or it is not easily accessible.  How many of your tenants are willing to crawl under the property to reach it?  Not many!
One thing that I always recommend is that when you are renovating a rental property, make sure there is a main water shut off that is accessible. Older properties were not required to have one. It won’t do anyone any good if the main water shut off is at the street or in a crawl space somewhere under the house.
Be sure that you show the tenants where the main water shut off is located and clearly mark it. You can go online an purchase some cheap tags that say “Water Shut Off”. they come in a variety of colors. When you do a move in or a move out, make sure that you either place at tag on the main water shut off or verify that it is still there.
Remind all tenants of the “righty tighty, lefty loosey” saying so that they know how to turn it on and off. When the leave town for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to turn the main water off in case a line were to break. This stops the house from flooding.

Where Is The Furnace Filter?

When you have single family rental homes, the tenant should be expected to replace the furnace filter.  It isn’t cost effective for the landlord to run over to the rental property every 30 days to change the furnace filter.  During the move in inspection, show the tenant where the furnace filter is and demonstrate how to remove it and install a new one.  Also consider writing the filter size in permanent marker on the duct work.  Usually, I leave 2 or 3 extra furnace filters for the tenants to use.

Sump Pumps

Another thing that tenants need to know and understand is that sump pumps are there for a reason!  To keep the house from flooding!   Point out that it is plugged in and should remain plugged in at all times.   The sump pump will run at all hours of the day and night.  There is nothing that can be done about that and unplugging it is not an option.  They are also not allowed to unplug it to save electricity.   The cover should not be tampered with or removed.

How To Test The Smoke Detector

This may seem like a very basic thing but I have run across more than one tenant who has never tested a smoke detector before. If the smoke detector is very high, they won’t have any idea how to test it.  Several years ago I decided to invest in some cheap 36 inch wood dowel rods from Home Depot and leave one in any house with a tall ceiling.  I show the tenant how to use it to test the smoke detectors.  Do I believe the stick will last forever?  No.  But, I did make the effort!

Grass And Leaves

Cutting the grass is something every tenant is expected to take care of in my single family homes.  Tenants are also required to keep the weeds trimmed back at all times and pick up the leaves in the fall.  Code enforcement is on the look out for uncut grass, tall weeds and leaves that have not been picked up.  Citations with fines are issues in all of these cases.  This is explained to my tenants and any fines are charged to them.
These are just a few of the things that tenants need to know.  Some tenants will need a lot more training and others will already either know the basics.  In some cases, you will run across a tenant who knows more than you do.  I love when that happens!
Taking care of your asset is very important and it is well worth the time it takes to train someone to take care of it.