A turnover gives you a little time to spruce up a rental in a way you can’t while it’s occupied.
You may not need to do a major cleanup or repair, but you can take care of some of the small but important details that make a rental attractive to quality tenants and ready to rent. You should always make repairs necessary to satisfy habitability requirements, but don’t stop there.
Here are 9 tips for getting your property ready to rent.
4 essential and inexpensive tasks
Once your rental is empty and disrupting tenants is not an issue, seize the opportunity by completing tasks that affect habitability, such as checking the smoke alarms and making sure all the electrical outlets and plumbing fixtures work and are safe. While you’re at it, pay attention to the following four tasks:
1. Test and service appliances
- Turn on the oven to verify that the temperature on the dial and that recorded by a thermometer inside are the same.
- Check the water heater pilot to make sure it’s steady and blue.
- Wash a load in the washing machine and dry it in the dryer.
- Clean out the dryer vents.
- Perform any repairs that your tests indicate are needed.
2. Clean and deodorize
The entire unit needs cleaning after a lengthy tenancy, but especially the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Grease buildup in the kitchen may call for a strong detergent, such as TSP, for removal.
- Use liberal amounts of disinfecting cleaner in the bathroom.
Also clean the carpets. Unless the tenants who just moved out were particularly conscientious, they will probably need shampooing.
3. Search for and eradicate mold
Look for mold in the following places:
- Dark corners of the laundry room
- Bathroom tiles and fixtures
Scrub mold with soap and water, but don’t try to scrub mold out of drywall. Unless the mold is clearly only growing on the surface paint, the only way to eradicate it is to replace the affected drywall.
4. Re-key or change the locks
It’s a good idea to change locks between tenants. If you can’t re-key the existing locks on the entry doors, replace them. This might be a good time to install keypunch locks that you can simply reprogram during the next turnover.
5 important jobs that may cost a bit
If you’re prepared to devote a modest sum—in the neighborhood of $1,000—toward getting your unit ready to rent, the following items should be high on your to-do list so that you can attract quality tenants who’ll pay top dollar.
5. Paint the walls
Repainting a rental unit before occupancy is a good idea, but it isn’t something you always have to do to get a unit ready to rent. However, painting freshens up the space in a way that cleaning can’t. Professional painting costs from $400 to $700 per room, but you can reduce this cost by more than half by doing the work yourself.
Related: Save money by learning to paint
6. Spruce up the landscaping
If you’re renting a detached unit, pay some attention to the lawn, garden, and entryway.
- Trim back foliage that covers windows or hangs over the roof
- Edge the walkways
- Plant a few decorative plants
You might even consider paying a contractor $100 to $150 to paint the front door, which Realtors advise is the easiest and most effective way to upgrade the exterior of a home.
7. Clean or replace curtains and window screens, and wash the windows
- Take the curtains down, and put them in the washing machine or have them dry cleaned.
- Remove the window screens, and wash them or replace them if they are torn or the frames are bent.
- Consider having the windows professionally cleaned to bring light into the house.
8. Service the central air system
A vacancy provides a golden opportunity to bring in a technician to do a furnace and cooling system tune-up. It will include checking the seals in the compressor and blower, replacing the filters, and inspecting for small other small problems that could turn into big ones at some inopportune moment when an emergency repair is the last thing you need.
9. Restore hardwood floors
A floor restoration, unlike a refinish, doesn’t involve sanding off the finish. Instead, you merely scuff up the finish with a floor buffer and apply a refresher coat. It costs a fraction of what refinishing costs and can make a floor in good shape—but dulled by years of traffic—look new again.
Don’t be afraid to spend money to make a unit ready to rent
The amount of time and money you have to invest in getting a unit ready to rent depends on the rental market and the condition of the unit. In a community with rental shortages, you may not have to invest much money or time at all. Things are different in a competitive market, but don’t worry if you need to make a small investment.
By working to attract renters, you’ll reduce downtime and future maintenance costs, thus recouping your investment and keeping your books in the black.