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Issues to Address Before New Tenants Move In

June 9, 2021

Issues to Address Before New Tenants Move In

If you’ve been renting out your property for a while now, you understand that collecting a big wad of cash every month is not the only thing on your landlord’s to-do list. Being a landlord takes work, and preparing the property for your tenants is a big part of it. For starters, you should think of it as part of your overall investment strategy. Likewise, maintaining your property and making it attractive for the people who will be occupying your investment is essential if you want to attract quality renters. Without further ado, here are some issues to address before new tenants move in.

1. The day-to-day operations of your unit

Most state and local laws require landlords to offer and maintain housing that complies with basic habitability requirements. This implies adequate weatherproofing, water and electricity, available heat in all rooms, and hygienic and structurally safe premises. Inspection is a must at this point if you want to avoid getting that 911 call for a water leakage at 2 am. The outlets and overhead lights in every room should be operational. If there are clogs or leaks in the plumbing, make sure to handle this in a timely fashion. Also, as a landlord, you must provide tenants with a recent gas safety certificate, evidence of electrical examinations, and tests for carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Next, rental housing must be free from significant danger from mold, lead, and asbestos and reasonably protected against criminal intrusion.

2. Repairs and minor aesthetic upgrades

Once you’ve succeeded in finding suitable tenants, you want to do whatever’s in your power to keep them in your property longer. Maintaining common areas and providing your tenants with a nice and pleasant place to live will help you with that. Tenant turnover is the perfect opportunity to fix that broken window lock, dripping bathroom faucet, or that hole in the wall. Property managers come in pretty handy for successfully transitioning between tenants, especially if you do not live near your rental property. The property manager is the landlord’s eyes and ears on the property, ensuring that any issues are being dealt with promptly and the premises itself is cared for professionally.

Make any other fixes as your budget allows. However, be mindful of the fact that tenant turnovers can kill profitability if they take too long. So, if you plan on doing any upgrades, try to stick with minor and cost-effective ones that still have a high impact. For instance, no one – and we repeat – no one likes an ugly bathroom. So, you may want to consider installing towel hooks or rods, replacing subpar showerheads, adding some storage space, etc. And, of course, making the property sparkle should go without saying.

3. Reviewing the lease agreement

Section by section. Slowly and thoroughly. You need to make sure that your new tenants completely understand what they’re agreeing to. So, bring all the paperwork and addendums, and set aside plenty of time so that you aren’t rushed. Also, one of the issues to address before new tenants move in are any specific requests or requirements your tenant may have. It’s important to go through them with your tenant. Service dogs in case of disability and government assistance are the kind of situations where you’re legally obligated to take the appropriate steps and accommodate the tenant. As for the situations that are more wants than needs, it is up to you.

If you decide to honor your tenants’ request, make sure to add it as a clause in your lease. Also, painting and bringing in new furniture will require you to plan and make all arrangements as soon as possible. For instance, where would you place the rental’s current furniture if your tenants wish to bring their own? Storage units are a great solution but mind that the turnover alone could end up costing you thousands of dollars. The answer would be to seek cost-effective solutions such as sharing a unit with another person, using an on-storage container, etc. Using the cheapest storage unit may not be the wisest idea. Items you value and/or profit on should be kept in quality storage spaces so that they don’t get damaged.

Upon finishing the agreement review with the tenant and answering any of their questions, you and the tenant should sign and date the lease agreement.

4. Collecting move-in payments

Once you’ve signed the lease, but before you hand the keys over to your tenant, you should collect the first month’s rent and security deposit. It’s crucial that you study your state’s specific laws regarding the security deposit. Though they’re still liable for paying their own security deposit, section 8 tenants may be an exception to collecting the first month’s rent. If the tenant is receiving government assistance, he or she will send you the check after having moved into the unit.

5. Preparing a tenant welcome letter

Preparing a tenant welcome letter is also one of the matters you may want to handle before the next tenant’s move-in. This letter helps your new renter settle into their home, but it also greatly enables you to foster a positive landlord-tenant relationship. It helps if you have a template, an already created structure you can follow again and again as new tenants come.

What your move-in letter will include is generally up to you. You might use it to provide:

  • Move-in day details and next steps;
  • Elaboration on topics in your lease or rental agreement;
  • Your contact information;
  • Emergency and repair contacts;
  • Procedures or instructions for any items included with the rental;
  • Time and date of the rental walkthrough;
  • Time and location for key collection;
  • Instructions on rent payment;
  • Instructions on how to report maintenance issues;
  • Parking information for the tenants and guests;
  • Trash and recycling information;
  • Property rules and regulations;
  • Etc.

Keep one copy for your records, and either email another one to your tenant or place it in a prominent spot in the rental.

6. Going through the move-in checklist

On the actual move-in day, it’s a good practice going over the move-in checklist with your tenant. This list describes the condition of the property as a whole, as well as of each room, in detail before the tenant moves in. Thus, it allows you to compare it with the property’s condition after the tenant has moved out. After you’ve reviewed the checklist, have the tenant sign and date it.

7. Organize your files

Finally, important issues to address before new tenants move in should include organizing your rental files. You can choose to organize these by property or by a tenant, have them in paper or electronic form. Anything is fine as long as it makes sense for your business. What’s generally important is to keep a copy of every paper signed by you and your tenant, create backups if you choose to store those documents on your computer, and store everything securely. Though you should retain your records for at least for years after a tenant moves out, consult a local attorney about keeping them even longer if necessary.

Article by: Betty White

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