This is the third part of a four part series, which details the steps in Becoming a successful investment property owner.
To refresh your memory, step three said, “…assess your property to determine if it is ready for a tenant.”
In preparing the rental for a tenant you can divide the tasks into three categories: mechanical, cleaning, and cosmetic.
Let’s examine the mechanical issues first. Ensuring that everything on the property is in working order and meets the minimum requirements by law is the fundamental step here.
According to the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), “The landlord or agent must maintain carbon monoxide detector devices in each dwelling unit if the rental unit has a fossil fuel burning heater, appliance, fireplace, or attached garage on or before July 1, 2011 for a single-family unit.” C.A.R. also states that, “All existing dwelling units must have a smoke detector centrally located outside each sleeping area (bedroom or group of bedrooms). In addition, new construction (with a permit after August 14, 1992) must have a hard-wired smoke detector in each bedroom.”
Some other critical mechanical checks should include ensuring that the electrical, plumbing (including hot and cold running water), and heating facilities are in proper working order. Also check to make sure the unit has effective waterproofing and weather protection as well as proper locks on all exterior doors and windows.
The cleaning checklist is more straightforward and should include, at the least, clean carpets (a professional carpet cleaning is recommended), clean appliances and fixtures in both kitchen and bathrooms, clean walls, windows, and doors, and an overall clean unit. It is also necessary to remove any odors from trash, pets, smoke, etc. Next, turn your attention to the exterior of the home. Make sure the yard is raked and mowed, the roof is clean from leaves and pine needles, and the decks, patios, and walkways are pressure washed and clean.
Finally, there are a few cosmetic fixes that you can do to make the rental stand out from the competition. A fresh coat of paint on the walls looks nice, gives the unit a fresh smell, and is relatively inexpensive. Installing new carpet can really change the look of a dated rental and is highly preferred by tenants. I encourage new carpet if the current carpet is stained, dated, or mismatched from room to room. Lastly, and if the budget allows, spend some money updating the kitchen. Tenants favor a dishwasher, garbage disposal, and energy efficient appliances. A rental with these upgraded cosmetic features will certainly stand out from the competition and possibly aid in filling the vacancy more quickly.
Barrett Property Management has provided free downloadable Mechanical and Cleaning Checklists, which are available at: http://barrettpm.com/downloads/