When a tenant moves about, landlords and property managers are always eager to get the unit occupied and generating cash flow again. While you want to keep vacancies as brief as possible, its absolutely essential that you take the necessary time between tenants to ensure that the unit is clean and habitable.
Here are a few of the most critical things to check and fix before your next tenant moves in.
How old is the flooring in this property? In rental units, floors typically dont last as long as they would otherwise. Some people are just harder on floors than others, and renters can be less careful in temporary living situations. Carpets are usually only good for about 5 years, sometimes less. Hardwoods will last a heck of a lot longer, but you might need to refinish them just as often. If you have vinyl thats still in decent shape but looks outdated, consider simply painting it for a fresh look.
A fresh coat of paint is never a bad idea when turning over a rental property. In fact, some cities/states have made it a legal requirement. Youll want to spackle over the holes from the last tenants wall hangings and repair any other sheetrock damage, of course. If you notice peeling paint or black spots on the walls, you may have a mold problem. If so, it must be remedied as soon as possible.
Now is also the time to check up on the propertys electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and other systems.
- Make sure all the lights and outlets work properly and that heavy use doesnt overload the system. If you notice exposed wiring or burn marks, call an electrician.
- Look for signs of pipe leaks under kitchen and bathrooms sinks, and make sure drains are free of clogs and all the toilets flush properly.
- Take the opportunity to have the heater and air conditioner tuned up and confirm that the property meets standards for energy efficiency.
- Test each appliance that you provide in the home, such as the water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and laundry machines. Repair or replace these items if necessary.
- Test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home and replace the batteries if need be.
Roof inspections should usually be done in the spring or summer, but a vacancy is as good a time as any. From the ground, you can scan the roof for loose, damaged or missing shingles. If you think youve spotted a problem, grab a ladder and take a closer look but try to avoid going on to the roof if you can. While youre up there, assess the condition of your gutters and schedule a cleaning if necessary. Inside the attic, look for signs of moisture, like mold or rot. This usually means you have a roof leak. Also make sure its not super hot up there as extreme temperatures can age your roof prematurely.
Look for pests and signs thereof, like ants, fleas, bees, bed bugs, and (eek!) rodents. Small droppings on kitchen counters are a sure sign of mice. Bees nests are easy to spot when built in plain view, but they could also be inside exterior walls. Bed bugs are unfortunately more of a problem than they have been in the past, and theyre extremely difficult to detect until they bite. Whether you see anything or now, its a great idea to have an exterminator come through the property, especially during the warmer months.
Once all the structural and mechanical systems are up to snuff, all thats left to do is clean. If your budget allows, you wont regret paying for a professional to come in and clean your rentals. Its a dirty, thankless job. But, if youre going it alone, start with the kitchens and bathrooms. Scrub the tubs and/or showers, toilets, sinks, countertops, cabinets and floors. And dont forget the oven, microwave and refrigerator. After the hard part is over, wipe down all the mirrors and windows, dust the blinds, and cap it off by cleaning the floors. If theres an outdoor area, give that a good sprucing as well.
By taking the steps above youll be well within compliance in providing a habitable rental.