We recently moved into a small home in the San Antonio area, and we had quite a rocky beginning with our landlord. Even though we love this cute little house, because of the nightmare we faced, this topic has been on my mind for quite a while. Let’s start with a bit of background. I have purchased 2 new construction homes in the past 4 years, leased one of those houses to a renter, and been renters more times than we can count… So, I have an opinion on the matter. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to give you tips and advice on how to prepare your house for renters, and on the flip side, what kind of condition you should expect from a house you’re renting. Let’s roll…
First thing’s first – I’m going to go ahead and assume that the reason you’re looking for tips and advice on making your home “rental-ready” is because you want to rent it for as much as possible. However, that is not the only reason why you’ll want to follow these guidelines. There are several other reasons you’ll benefit from as well:
The WHY’s of preparing your home…
1. The nicer and cleaner your home is when your renter moves in, the happier they will be with their new residence. We worked really hard on preparing our home so that our renter felt comfortable there. It was the first time we had been landlords, so we were very eager to have an easy, relaxed relationship with our tenant.
2. The happier your tenant is, the longer they will most likely stay. The less often you have to try and find new renters, the better!
3. If your home looks and feels beautiful when they move in, they are more likely to want to leave it nice for you when they leave. This goes for the relationship you have with them as well… if it’s nice and easy, they won’t want to leave you in a bind.
4. Lastly, the better condition the home is in, the more you can expect to collect in rent. You’re always going to be up against comps in the area, so if your house is among the nicer, then you get to charge more and that’s what it’s all about right?
Okay, now let’s get down to the do’s and don’ts. I am going to use a few comparisons in this picture heavy post. We have pics from when we prepared our house to rent, and pics we took of the house we’re renting now… Spoiler Alert: We worked tirelessly to make sure our house was perfect for our prospective tenants… and our landlord, well he didn’t. Our renter pays on time, communicates easily and effectively and we have a very good relationship. Conversely, we want to punch our landlord in the face. So here we go… let’s avoid getting renters who want to punch you in the face.
How To Prepare Your House For Renters
1. Make sure your house has a little curb appeal. Mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds and trimming the hedges really goes a long way. You don’t have to spend tons of money to do it, but if you wanted to spend some, a few flowers makes the place feel homey and comfortable. Here’s a few examples of do’s and don’ts:
2. Have the carpets professional cleaned. Seriously, carpets get really gross, and when I move into a place – the carpets are what gross me out the most. I can’t walk around barefoot for weeks until I start to get comfortable. Luckily our new place is all hardwoods, but even still – our floors were covered in dead flies and other bugs. Gross.
3. Hire a cleaning service to professionally clean the house from top to bottom. They do this day in and day out and have a routine, which helps to make sure they don’t miss anything. Little things that get missed frequently are the inside of kitchen cabinets, doors, windows and windowsills, baseboards… All of those things give your house a really dingy feel if they aren’t cleaned.
4. If you live in an area where it’s necessary (like Texas), spray for pests. Especially if your home is sitting vacant for any amount of time. We’ve always been on top of pest control because I can’t STAND bugs, cockroaches, spiders… I refuse to live amongst those disgusting little pests. So, we spray very regularly, and have never had an issue. But when we moved into this house, we were running into them all over the place. We’ve sprayed twice just in the month that we’ve lived here and will probably do a couple more times before we switch to the regular quarterly spray. Since it wasn’t done regularly here since the last owner moved out, it’s been more difficult to get rid of them for good. Don’t put your renter through that. Nobody wants to live with bugs.
5. Have a place on the property, whether its the garage, shed or storage closet, where little odds and ends that belong to the house can be found and stored. We keep a little storage shelving unit in the garage where any extra little things, like paint cans, door stoppers, window treatments, and light fixtures can be kept. This makes it easy for our renter to find anything she’s looking for, AND it gives her a place to put things so we can find them later if she takes them down. But if you leave a shed, clean it out so that it can be used effectively.
There are a few other things that Hubbalicious and I chose to do, that some might consider going above and beyond. However, as I mentioned earlier, we really want our renter to feel like she got a great deal, and is happy there, so that she will want to take care of the place. So if you decide you’d also like to go a little above and beyond, here are some things we recommend.
Go Above & Beyond To Seal The Deal
1. We accept electronic payments. She can transfer money to us through her bank account, which keeps her from having to mail checks every month.
2. We purchased 12 A/C filters and labeled each one with the date it needs to be changed. We labeled them for the 1st of each month, so she can just make it part of paying rent. At the beginning of each month, she pays rent and changes the A/C filter. It was important to us that we make this as easy as possible for our tenants because we really want it to be taken care of so that it will last longer.
3. We cover lawn care and pest control. That might sound crazy to you. We have to pay for it ourselves here in this rental house… But for us as landlords, we didn’t feel comfortable leaving it in the hands of someone who may or may not care about keeping the lawn nice and the pests away. We spent far too much money on that house and plan on it being a long term investment, so we feel more comfortable paying for it and making sure it’s taken care of.
And BONUS, it makes our renter feel like she got an even better deal and she absolutely loves living in the home and wants to stay long term! YAY! We lucked out because she’s very clean and always pays on time. We got lucky, but we also put a lot of work into making sure we offered a home that she would love.
It’s been a far cry from the experience we’ve had as renters, where we’ve had to work extraordinarily hard to have repairs made, and things done that should have been completed before we moved in. That being said though, we do love our little corner of the world right now and despite all the work we had to put into it, we are quite happy here and it’s really starting to feel like home.
I should also mention, that if we were paying below market value for the home we’re renting, we wouldn’t have even thought twice about all the work that still needed/should have been done before renting. So if you’re willing to accept lower rent, than by all means – rent your property as is. However, if you’re looking for top dollar, these are some ideas to help get you there.
What are some experiences you’ve had as a renter or landlord?? I’d love to hear about it! Share in the comments!