Property Management 101 — Is My Place Rent Ready?
Real Estate Blog
Property Management 101 — Is My Place Rent Ready?
There is a lot that goes into ensuring your place is ready to rent. Whether you’re renting individual apartments, condos, or single family homes, it’s vital to have a space that shows well so empty homes don’t sit empty, costing you unnecessary money.
Determine Whether You’re Ready to Manage Tenants
You should be confident in your ability to be a manager. After all, tenants are relying on you to provide them with a safe and comfortable place to live. Know your own limits and be prepared to take some classes on property management or plan to hire a property manager who can handle all of these things for you.
Obviously, there are some distinct advantages to hiring a property manager, including:
A property manager will know the laws for your state, city, and/or county backwards and forwards. They will know what their rights are, what your rights are, and what the tenants rights are. They will handle all the advertising when a place becomes available. A property manager can provide you with instant access to a renter pool, as well as post ads on social media (such as Facebook or Craigslist). Additionally, a property manager will process tenant applications and collect rent, handle repairs, and deal with evictions.
Know Your Tenant Qualification Guidelines
There are many guidelines that determine whether a potential tenant is able to live in a certain place. These can vary widely by state, or even by city or county, so be sure to check what the rules are where you live before setting your guidelines.
There are two important questions to ask yourself when thinking about tenant guidelines:
Are you prepared to accept those who qualify for Section 8? An advantage of this is guaranteed rent each month. Are you prepared to possibly shoulder the risk of property damage? Tenants who damage property may not have the funds to pay for repairs.
Be sure to check out this blog post from Rentec Direct on ten qualities to look for in a dream tenant
Keeping Your Property Maintained for Current and Future Tenants
As a property manager, one of the most important things to talk about is landlord responsibility and keeping the rental prepared for new tenants. Not only do you need to consider how often you’ll make upgrades to properties, but you also need to plan for who is going to be responsible for repairs — will it be the landlord or the tenant?
Having the landlord be responsible will result in higher rents to cover those repairs, but holding the tenant responsible could result in lower rents. The RentPrep site has created an appliance guide for landlords that will help you determine who should be responsible for repairs.
Both the property manager and the landlord will want to take into consideration how often upgrades will need to be made, particularly when it comes to appliances. If you have a long-term tenant, how often will they get their appliances repaired and/or replaced?
If someone is living in the space short-term, will you replace the appliances each time someone moves out, or just do normal wear and tear repairs and replace appliances on an as-needed basis?
To determine how much electricity appliances use, this article from IGS Energy can be helpful.
Another aspect of landlord vs. tenant responsibility to be aware of is utilities. There are many apartment complexes that include some or all of the utilities as part of the rent, while other complexes hold the tenant responsible for some or all of the utilities.
While there are many cases to be made for both sides, one of the biggest cases for including utilities is that it streamlines everything for the landlord and the tenant. However, on the flip side, not including utilities means the landlord has minimized his/her responsibility and will be able to keep their costs more predictable.
It’s important to keep decor and paint colors neutral, particularly when staging an apartment for prospective renters. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing apartments to be rented:
Use neutral colors. It’s important to appeal to wide range of perspective renters. Consider whether you’ll allow tenants to paint or put up removable wallpaper. Some apartment complexes/landlords allow this as long as the space is painted back/wallpaper removed when the tenant moves out.
It’s also important to take structural issues into consideration, particularly in older homes. Most people have a diverse range of electronics that require power sources 24/7, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve upgraded any electrical outlets and have provided plenty of outlets so circuits don’t get overloaded. energy.gov has provided a simple tool to help you determine energy usage in homes.
You’ll also want to make sure kitchen/bathroom faucets, pipes, and the water heater are in good working order. If they aren’t, plan according to replace or make necessary repairs before the tenant moves in. While it can be overwhelming to be a landlord, a good property manager and good use of the resources available to you can make the process much smoother.
Written for Legacy Property Management of Silicon Valley