Managing your own rental property can be a rich and rewarding experience. It can also be a stressful and intimidating venture! Knowing where to get started can help you manage your rental property like a pro.
Residential rental property can range from a single family residence on a nice quiet cul-de-sac to a multi-unit complex with on-site management and maintenance in a downtown urban setting. Regardless of the type of property you own, your most important variable (after location) is the condition and quality of your rental property.
Yes, curb appeal does matter, even if the property is occupied by a renter. It matters to both the prospective tenant and the local community in the immediate area. A real estate investor who understands this will be willing to invest the money needed to maximize the potential rent and attract the best possible long term tenant. A good tenant is defined as one who takes care of the property and pays the rent in full, on time, every month.
Very few tenants who fit this ideal description are willing to rent a property that is obviously out of date with lots of deferred maintenance. This is not to say that you have to have the latest stainless steel Bluetooth enabled appliances and quartz counter tops, but it does mean that the avocado green dishwasher that doesn’t always rinse well and the 10 year old carpet should probably be replaced.
Beyond maximizing the aesthetic condition of the property, safety and habitability should also be a primary concern for a property owner.
The following are key areas of concern:
- Water Heaters:
- Installed to code on a raised platform with proper ventilation.
- Properly secured with earthquake straps.
- Both proper drainage and a temperature & pressure relief valve (T&P Valve) should also be installed.
- Smoke Detectors:
- Located in every bedroom
- 10-year battery and/or hard wired to the existing electrical system.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors:
- Outside each area where bedrooms are located
- Mounted ideally no more than 5 feet above the floor.
- If combined with a Smoke Detector, mount on the ceiling for smoke detection.
- Water Supply Lines:
- Make sure all lines are dry to the touch and working properly.
- Inspect for any signs of mold in the drywall, wood and flooring around the water source.
- Window Screens:
- Every window you can open should have a property installed screen.
- No visible holes or tears or bent frames.
- Properly opening and closing doors, cabinets & drawers.
- Carpet properly installed new or clean and in good condition.
- Exposed tack strips that secure the carpet to the floor are both a tripping hazard and puncture hazard.
- Properly cleaned carpet so tenants don’t claim damage to their health from exposure to pet urine or dander.
- All plumbing fixtures properly shut off and do not leak.
- No exterior opening in the stucco or wood that would allow pests to get into the home.
Although the paint does not need to be new, many multi-unit owners choose to repaint their rental units every time a tenant moves out. Sometimes you can get by with using touch-up paint on the entire wall that needs touch-up. Trying to use touch up paint mid-wall in specific spots often ends in failure. The new paint, even if it was from the same container that was originally used to paint the wall, will have a slightly different sheen and will look worse than the original blemish you were trying to cover up.
Regardless of the condition of the paint, there should be no existing nail holes in the walls when a tenant moves into a property. Trying to unwind which nail holes were pre-existing and which ones were done by the current tenant is a fool's errand and you end up being unable to charge for any of the damage to the walls caused by the nail holes.
At Mesa Properties, we have developed a standard rent ready inspection report that all of our property managers use to inspect the above list of items and much more. If you are interested in getting a copy, contact one our property managers today or click here to request one.
For a comprehensive guide to managing rental property, check out this resource.