If you’re looking to rent out either a portion or the entirety of your property, there are a lot of things you need to know. As a landlord, you have legal rights and responsibilities, as do your tenants. There are also additional considerations having to do with maintenance and the logistics of managing a property. The following will explore a few steps you should take if you’re looking to rent out your property.
Every state and province is slightly different in this regard. Beyond this, major differences can exist between counties, so you need to do your own local research. There will be some regulations regarding rental units that exist across the board, like having working smoke detectors, but there will be others that are climate or location-specific. In Alaska, for example, a landlord is legally required to maintain a habitable environment for their tenants and needs to respond to repair requests within ten days. Landlords are responsible for the structure, plumbing, water, heating, electrical outlets, wiring, ventilation, garbage removal, pest control, and bed bugs. In Florida, in comparison, landlords are only responsible for garbage removal and pest control if the rental property is multi-family and only have to deal with mold or bed bugs if these are mentioned in the lease.
In most cases, the majority of major maintenance is going to fall on your shoulders, so if you can set the property up in a way that minimizes your need to always be showing up (you legally need to inform your tenant that you’re coming unless there are major emergencies). Regular maintenance should be done promptly to reduce the risk of damages done long-term. Anything that is always breaking should be replaced. Anything that is on its last legs should be replaced.
One important truth to realize is that renters are harder on their properties than owners because the damage doesn’t cost them much in terms of property value or repair expenses. This means you might want to put drain catchers which catch small things in all the drains. You might want to install MERV filters, as it is not uncommon for people to smoke in the house either occasionally or regularly. Ventilation systems should be put in bathrooms and dehumidifiers in damp basements.
There have been numerous studies on the impact of clean and well-maintained environments. The famous broken window study from 1982 found that windows left broken or unrepaired signified to passersby that no one cared about the space, and this resulted in more broken windows. This means that if you put in the effort to clean everything properly, your tenants are less likely to make a mess of important things. This can include: scrubbing the stove and oven, washing the floors, cleaning out bathroom vanities (including wiping the insides of drawers and cupboards), washing panty and closet shelves, vacuuming, and carpet cleaning carpets, scrubbing the inside and outside of the refrigerator and much more.
Pest-Proof The Property
Given everything discussed above, it is critical that you take steps to reduce pests’ entrance into the property. Your tenant is allowed to leave crumbs all over the floor, and this can attract critters. Seal up any and all holes and entrances (pay attention to corners, the backs of closets and cupboards, and beneath counters). Further, seal up windows and doors so that when they’re closed, things aren’t getting in. Finally, install screens on any windows that don’t have them. Some people need fresh air in their homes to function, and this means the windows might be open non-stop during warmer days.
If your tenants are paying the utility bill, this isn’t as much of a concern (though it’s still important), but if you’re paying the utilities because rent includes these costs, you might want to think about insulation and things like energy-efficient bulbs. If someone’s renting and not paying utilities, you might have the heat blasting with the windows open all winter, and this can get pretty pricey.
There are simple things like the location of the fuse box that renters should know. If you don’t show them where everything critical is (like the thermostat), you might be getting more calls than necessary. When you hand the keys over, be sure to offer a tour of everything they need to know.
The above information should help you get your property ready for renters. Of course, if there are legal requirements in your area not mentioned on this list, be sure to follow them to the letter.