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8 Steps to Get Your House Ready to Rent

System - Thursday, February 28, 2019

Moving is a stressful time, and there are tons of to-dos that you have to remember. So, making your home rent-ready can easily fall to the back of your mind. That's why we wrote these 8 steps to make this process simple to follow.

1. Clean Your House Thoroughly

This is the easiest and, arguably, the most important thing that you can do when preparing your house for rent. When a potential renter tours your house, its cleanliness makes an immediate impression on the tenants. The cleaner the house, the better it will show. Additionally, you want to have a clean house when the tenants move in so that they can be held to that same standard of cleanliness. In Missouri, tenants are required to leave a house in the same condition as when they moved in. If the house isn't clean when they move in, you can't require the tenants to keep it clean when they move out.

Since cleanliness is so important, you will want to make sure to do a deep clean of the house, making sure to reach all of the areas that you don't usually clean. We recommend starting in one room in the house (we've found the kitchen is a great place to start) and then work your way around the house, room by room. That way, you don't have to keep going back to get something you missed. You'll want to get places like behind the oven and window tracks and sills. These places are often overlooked, and cleaning them makes your home look that much better.

2. Increase Lighting

Good lighting can make a big difference in how your property looks. Lots of light makes a home look more open, inviting and, in some cases, more expensive. The first thing you should do to increase lighting is make sure that all of the light bulbs and switches in your house are working. Change out dead or flickering lights with fresh, bright ones. If your switches aren't working, you can change them yourself pretty easily, or you can hire a professional electrician to do it for you.

Next, you should go through your house and clean your windows and mirrors with a quality glass cleaner. Squeaky clean glass let's lots of light in! Also, before you have a showing, you can go through the house and turn on all the lights and open all the blinds to let as much light in as possible. This will set a great first impression for potential tenants!

3. Get Your Carpets Professionally Cleaned

Carpets can hold lots of dirt and gunk that you can't get out with a vacuum. There are options like Bissells and RugDoctors that claim to "deep clean" your carpets. They do better than a vacuum, but they are not nearly as thorough as a professional truck mounted carpet cleaner. Compared to a truck-mounted unit, portable units often do not get water hot enough or extract all the water they use, which can end up re-activating the odor from pet waste and dander. It doesn't extract all the waste and makes the room smell much worse than before. The only sure way that your carpets will be deep cleaned are to have them done by a professional with a truck-mounted carpet cleaning unit. These units use the truck engine to power their cleaner, which can heat the water faster and hotter, getting a better clean.

Another benefit to hiring a professional to clean carpets is that you can require the tenant to do the same. This ensures that your carpets are well taken care of by every renter. If they were allowed to clean them themselves with a portable carpet cleaner, it is possible they could miss spots or whole rooms completely; or they could re-activate pet smells and make showings go poorly for potential renters.

4. Paint

Some of the most common feedback that tenants give about homes is that there are either (a) too many nail holes in the walls or (b) different color spots where filled holes have been painted over. Before you move out of the house, you will need to take all nails and hooks out of the wall, patch the hole with spackle (not toothpaste, ew...), clean the extra spackle from the hole and then use a q-tip to dab just enough paint to cover the spackle. You don't want to do too much or it will be noticeable, and make your walls look like they have cheetah spots. If you take a chip of paint off the wall near a base board and take it to a home improvement or paint store, they should be able to match that color so it doesn't create a noticeable difference.

If you have many different colored walls, or maybe very vivid colors, you may want to consider "neutralizing." This means using one light, earth-tone color throughout the whole house -- a light beige or gray is very popular right now. Light colors like these make the house seem lighter, cleaner and more open. Also, most interior design styles will pair nicely with earth tones, and tenants are looking at that when they view houses. Some bright or very dark colors may be a turn off for tenants for this reason. Many tenants want to make their rental feel like home, so aesthetics become an important factor when deciding what house to rent.

5. Make Major Repairs

Before moving out is the perfect time to go through your house and make sure that everything is in proper working order. All appliances and maintenance systems should be working well. If there are any outlets, lights, faucets or windows that don't work, you should make sure they function properly before your first tenant moves in. If your tenant moves into the house and doesn't feel like it was taken care of before they moved in, they are less likely to take good care of the property while they are there.

The best way to take care of these items is to have professional handle them. You will likely not have much time to do these yourself since you are focused on moving. And, you also don't want to rush through these projects or do them wrong; they could cause damage down the road if not repaired properly now.

6. Minor Repairs/Maintenance

Once all of the major repairs are taken care of in your home, you will want to do all of those regular maintenance tasks just to make sure that your home is perfect before the tenants move in. Some of these will include changing your HVAC air filter, changing smoke detector batteries, cleaning gutters, planting grass seeds on dead spots in lawn, fill salt in your water softener, replace your stove drip pans and fix or replace damaged or missing hardware (handles, doorknobs, doorstops). You will also want to leave your utility deposits with your utility companies. That way, if your tenants move out in the cold months, you can call the utilities companies to turn on your water and electricity so your pipes don't freeze. Doing these things now will make it easier to hold your tenant's accountable to doing these same maintenance tasks.

7. Notify Lender and Insurance Company

When you become a landlord, you'll want to contact your home insurance company and mortgage lender to let them know that you'll know longer be living there. Your insurance company may switch your policy to protect you from tenant damages, since your regular homeowner's insurance may not cover that. This may also be a good time to shop around for different insurance rates. If one company can get you better landlord's insurance than your current provider, and you are open to changing, why not save some money?

Your mortgage lender will need to know as well because there may be more requirements that you have to fill in order to rent it out. It is important to check your loan documents and call your customer support to let them know. Even if there are no requirements, you will want to keep your address and contact information updated. If anything changes about your loan, you don't want that information delivered to your tenants. You would want to be the first to hear that!

8. Hire a Quality Property Manager

The last and, in our opinion, most important thing you can do when renting out your property is hire a quality property manager. They will be your "man on the ground" when you have moved out of the city or state. They should inspect your property thoroughly and hold the tenants accountable. You should hear from them regularly and be able to contact them easily. If you are thinking about renting, think about hiring a property manager that will ensure your property is protected!

Click Here to Download the Definitive Guide to Hiring a Property Manager in Fort Leonard Wood