What should landlords and property managers do to ensure a seamless move-in? Here is a 9 steps guide
I am a landlord, and I'm about to list my property for rent.
This process can be daunting, and many moving parts may jeopardise what as a landlord I want to achieve.
What if I list the property in the wrong way? Is my place ready for renting? Is it appealing enough? What if I rent out to the wrong person/people? What if they can't pay the rent? Or they may damage the property - including a communal part in a block of flats or a gated community - or they are argumentative with the neighbours?
Thankfully, this is a relatively established process, and landlords and property managers are maximising their chances of a hassle-free rent by following the following steps.
Let's check them together.
Repair Any Damage or Health and Safety Issues
Although it may sound obvious, nobody is willing to pay rent regularly for a property with issues - big or small they may be.
From plumbing to electrical, from the kitchen to the bathroom, make sure experts have checked everything before even listing the property.
A landlord has told me that their overlook of a hole on the drywall left by the previous tenant - probably a frame - was setting potential tenants mind to pass and move on to the next property. So, make sure everything is spotless, and perhaps a coat or two will help.
Not to mention the impact of potential health or safety issues, like for instance septic tank malfunctioning or unsafe appliance.
So, make sure everything is adequately addressed in time.
Clean the Property.
Another obvious potential point is to make sure the property is cleaned.
Here too, hiring a professional company won't harm.
The suspect itself of a dirty bathroom or kitchen may be enough to see even the bravest property seeker run away: don't fall into this pitfall that happens to be way more common that one would expect.
Once everything is cleaned up and pristine, it would be a great idea to take some professional photo of your property, inside or outside.
Plan an efficient maintenance model.
If you followed the list so far, you are up to a great start, which will probably minimise property issues during the tenancy.
However, things may go unexpectedly bad. Sometimes may go awful.
A pipe may explode and flood the property, damaging the wooden floor and the ceiling of the one below. Or the heating system may stop working in the middle of a cold winter night.
The number of things that could go south is high, and for some strange reason, these troubles tend to happen when less convenient.
Usually, a professional landlord or property manager doesn't like to test their luck. Instead, they plan a maintenance model, by agreeing quick turnaround time with whichever local professional may be appropriate - handymen, electricians, carpenters or plumbers.
You can determine in a later stage whether to charge your tenant(s) for the damage they caused or pay yourself because the situation would have happened irrespectively. Still, you want to repair fast to mitigate the damage.
List the Property.
Finally, we are ready to tell the world our shiny property is available.
Whether it's better to rely on word of mouth, real estate agencies and their websites or a combination of the two, it depends on the circumstances, and probably a judgement call by the landlord or property manager is required at this point.
A good starting point could be assessing the pros and cons of either choice. Word of mouth tends to be a more discreet approach, perhaps ideal to unique properties which require a very selected audience. Pursuing the real estate agent route alongside their website could be more appropriate to reach a larger audience.
Do your background checks.
Ensure you do your due diligence before accepting any offer.
Background checks are now universally accepted as appropriate, and nobody should feel offended by this request. Besides, it will give peace of mind to the landlord or property manager regarding the potential tenant ability to pay, character.
Job stability, previous landlords statements are invaluable tools to be added to the gut feelings.
Compose, review and sign the lease with the new tenant.
Unless you are very comfortable dealing with legal issues, asking the real estate agent - if you are using one - to provide you with a standard tenancy contract template and have a solicitor to review, it will help a lot.
A lease must contain the terms of the lease agreement, including when to move in and move out, when to deliver the notice, potential early termination fees and rent payment amount, agreed and signed off by both parties.
Confusion on what to do when it's the perfect recipe for a disaster when renting a property, so make sure you have undertaken all the proper steps.
Collect first-month rent and deposit.
It's time to collect your first-mont rent and the deposit. Needless to say that this entire process must be present in writing in the signed-off lease agreement.
Deposit should be kept safe to either be given back at the end of the tenancy or used for repairing the damages caused by the tenant(s). The pictures taken at the time of the listing would come very handy now.
Also, make sure you issue a receipt for every financial transaction, whether deposit, repair or rent. Receipts will be very valuable in the event of litigation - hopefully it won't be the case, but better safe than sorry.
Provide new tenants with contact details.
A step that should be taken by anyone looking for a smooth, hassle-free tenancy, is to provide the tenant(s) with every relevant contact details.
From the property manager to the maintenance companies, from local authorities to the communal areas manager, it's much better to work on a communication strategy.
A quick handbook with all the practical instructions for daily life could be helpful: the content could vary, from the wifi password to the access to the heating general switch, so make sure you provide the right information.
You could consider providing your tenant(s) with a welcome pack. Moving in could be very stressful and give something nice - such as a sample of the local products and indication of local amenities - may be a significant first step in the relationship.
Be on top of every aspect of the tenancy.
With everything you have to do to ensure a smooth less tenancy and a quick turnaround repair if necessary, being overwhelmed by an inefficient management process is the last thing you need.
Ensure you establish from day one an efficient way to stay on top of every aspect of your tenancy, from billing to maintenance.
A quick tip: the use of software like Smartsite will allow you to automate and streamline every aspect of your daily job as a property manager, increasing your efficiency and giving you more time for everything else.