Spring has come around again, bringing with it the end of another lease. You collect the keys from your previous tenant and wish them well; now, you have to start looking for a new tenant to fill the space. But the process of turning over a unit isn’t as simple as vacuuming a few carpets and posting a few snapshots on Zillow or Trulia. Even the most polite and neat tenant leaves some work for the landlord – and you never want to bring a new tenant into a problematic unit. Here, I outline a few steps that landlords should always take before renting out a vacant unit.
Inspect, Inspect, Inspect
Always inspect the property thoroughly – and do it more than once! At the very least, you should conduct a detailed inspection before the current tenant leaves to sort out any potential damage claims and conflicts in person. Keep notes during this walk-through, and make sure to provide the tenant with a summary of what you discussed after the meeting comes to a close. Once the tenant moves out, you can do another inspection to root out potential problems and identify chores (i.e., painting, flooring maintenance) that should be completed before someone new moves in.
You can rent out an old or lackluster apartment – but you can’t rent a dirty one. Clean everything before you bring potential tenants through the door. Shine your countertops, shampoo your carpet, and deep-clean every appliance. It may help to make a detailed cleaning list beforehand to ensure that no forgettable space slips your mind. Pay particular attention to the bathrooms and kitchen! Prospective tenants will focus in on these during walkthroughs, and may turn away if they perceive these rooms as dirty.
Fix and Replace
If you can’t clean the carpet, rip it out and replace it! No tenant wants to live in an apartment with stained flooring, and carpet shampooing can only go so far. When you do your post-move out walkthrough, make sure to check for and fix any electrical or plumbing problems that the tenant may not have mentioned. Then, consider the small details: Does the HVAC filter need replacing? Are any light bulbs out? Don’t leave the details for your new tenant to sort out!
Paint the Walls
Every rental unit looks better with a fresh coat of paint. A nice touch-up will make even an older unit shine and seem brand-new to a potential tenant.
Revisit the Landscaping
First impressions tend to stick. Don’t ruin yours by letting overgrown grass or weed-smothered flower beds turn away tenants! Revisit your landscaping before you host any open houses or walk-throughs.