Checklist for Renting to a New Tenant

Renting to a new tenant? To keep everything organized and on point, stick to this tried-and-tested checklist.

Becoming an effective landlord to a new tenant is difficult without the right tools and mindset. Whether you’ve been renting out property for a while, or you’re completely new to this game, having a checklist to turn to will make your life a lot easier.

With a guide on hand, you can stay on track when it comes to pre-move preparations, legal requirements, and future leasing concerns. While there’s never one perfect way to rent out your property, there’s a way to make it easier and more systematic.

Here are 12 things you need to check when renting to a new tenant.

Dealing with the Previous Tenants

Before you get too excited about renting to a new tenant, you need to make sure that your current property is good to go. One of the biggest concerns you have to check off your list is the condition of your property. Plus, you need to close any other legal obligations you have with your previous tenants.

#1. Confirm a move-out date

Don’t commit to any deals with new tenants if you haven’t confirmed a move-out date just yet. Aside from clearing up any concerns with your calendar as a landlord, speaking with your current tenants will also give you the opportunity to remind them about the move-out checklist.

Once a move-out date is confirmed, you have to go through the move-out checklist with your previous tenants. The move-out checklist is the same as the move-in checklist. This time, you’re comparing the condition of your property and of each room with its condition prior to the move-in of your current tenants.

The checklist is an inventory of all furnishings that came with the rental property, including the lights, racks, curtains, drawers and cabinets of each room. You also need to check the floor, walls, ceiling, and other permanent fixtures.

Both you and your tenants will need to check if the furnishings and fixtures require cleaning, painting, or repair.

#2. Inspect the property after previous tenants move out

The condition of your apartment or rental house is a top concern. Damages can range from a broken window lock, to a large hole in the wall. These are things that can immediately turn off prospective new tenants.

What are the things you need to look out for?

  • Dents or damages to walls and permanent fixtures
  • Problems with the plumbing and electrical wiring
  • New or unauthorized screwed-in furniture
  • New or unauthorized painting jobs
  • Number and condition of furnishings
  • Signs of mold and water damage

A proper inspection serves two purposes. First, it determines whether or not your previous tenants are liable for damages. Second, it gives you an idea of how much work needs to be done to prepare for your new tenants.

#3. Return the security deposit to previous tenants

Lastly, you need to complete all your obligations by returning the security deposit to the previous tenants. With your ledger cleared out, you’re now prepared to take in new tenants.

Preparing the Property for Your New Tenant

The next step is preparing your property. Once you have an interested and properly-screened new tenant, you need to ensure your property is ready. Some landowners go a step further and ask for any requests to come with the lease, such as wall repainting to a specific color.

#4. Make necessary repairs and renovations

One of the most daunting prospects of being a good and attractive landowner is the investment in repairs and renovations. To build up a positive reputation and to have a good relationship with future tenants, you need to ensure the property is in top shape.

Repairs shouldn’t only be cosmetic. Aside from repairing any holes in the wall, you need to make sure that the utilities are working. This is important regardless of who will be responsible for paying for the heat, plumbing, and electrical connection.

Having a budget and a clear schedule for necessary repairs is essential. You need to complete renovations and painting before the move-in date.

#5. Change locks and other security measures

Many prospective tenants ask if the locks have been changed. After all, they don’t want to share the same key and lock combination as the previous tenants. Changing locks is just one of the duties of an effective landowner.

For properties inside a building or community with security, informing the security or administration of tenant changes is also important for a smooth turnover.

#6. Check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and other safety issues

Imagine this: two months after you sign the new leasing contract, your tenants call you and complain that the smoke detectors are not working. If you have promised that the detectors were working without actually checking, you’ll be in big trouble.

It’s best to be vigilant against all possible concerns. Check the functionality of both your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure the safety of your new tenants. Some tenants will want to walk through and test each smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector with you.

Another necessary detail to check are the exits. For the safety of your tenants, there should be two forms of exit from the unit or property.

Lastly, safety issues can also come in the form of mold. With the right cleaning and treatment, you can ensure that there are no health hazards.

#7. Schedule professional cleaners

Having a clean apartment sets the tone of obligations. Once the lease is up, you are also expecting clean and undamaged premises.

Getting professional cleaners on the job is important if you are doing an apartment turnover. Once all of your renovations, repairs, and changes are done, schedule professional cleaning to completely transform your rental property.

Full cleaning is advised, which includes:

  • Sanitation and deep scrub of the bathroom
  • Floor waxing
  • Kitchen cleaning, including the stove and refrigerator
  • Full vacuum and mopping of all corners
  • Window and glass wash

Even if your unit is brand-new, there’s no reason to showcase a sloppy unit. While professional cleaners aren’t a priority for unused units, you still have to vacuum and sweep the debris.

Lastly, extermination of pests should also be done for both used and unused properties.

#8. Take pictures of the unit

Once your property looks as good as brand new, take pictures of the unit. The photographic evidence will help you deal with any changes or damages made by your new tenants. It will also help in dealing with potential complaints.

Dealing With the Move-In

With everything prepared, it’s time to start renting out to a new tenant. The move-in is one of the most exciting and promising times for any landowner. However, it’s not as simple as signing a contract. You have to plan for a smooth move, collect rent and security deposit, and build a good relationship with your new tenant.

#9. Sign a lease and schedule the move-in

It’s time to sign the lease! Most landowners will work well with a standard contract. Go over the lease agreement with the tenant so that both of you are on the same page when it comes to liabilities and duties.

Make sure that both you and the tenant have a copy.

#10. Collect first month’s rent and security deposit

Before your tenant can bring all their things over to the unit, collect the first month’s rent and the entire security deposit first. Their ability to pay the first month upfront is a pretty good indicator of their ability – or willingness – to pay for the months to come.

Make sure that the payment scheme for the next months is clear. If you’re tired of always pushing back the rent deadline, setting up online rent payments or a tenant online portal will give you the ability to track payments when they’re due.

Your new tenants will get reminders before the due date, so they won’t have an excuse when it comes to late payments.

After collecting, schedule the move-in date!

#11. Review the move-in checklist with your new tenants

It’s move-in day! After all the repairs and preparations, your rental premises are ideally clean and in good working order. It’s important that both you and your new tenants agree that furnishings, such as the cabinets and racks, and the fixtures, like the light and the walls, are undamaged.

The move-in checklist describes the condition of your property and each room in detail. It will help you and your tenants settle any possible liabilities when it comes to future damages and changes. It allows you to do an accurate comparison of the before-tenant and after-tenant conditions. Some tenants may also want an independent property inspection.

#12. Welcome your new tenant with a letter

Foster a harmonious relationship with your new tenants by sending them a welcome letter. The simple gesture will make your new tenants more likely to treat you with respect, and also more likely to approach you for important concerns.

Before leaving them to settle in, provide your new tenant with your contact information. If they have a question or a complaint, they should be able to contact you.

Learn More about Effective Property Management

Once you’ve dealt with this whole checklist, you’ve successfully dealt with the turnover to the new tenant. The rights and duties of a landlord, however, aren’t limited to this checklist.

Know more about rent computation, dealing with late rental payments, and other issues. Rental Academy can help you become a more effective homeowner or property manager.

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