Preparing a House to Rent

Renting your house can be a very smart and lucrative financial decision. 

However, whether you’re in between tenants or renting out your house for the first time, much more goes into it than simply collecting payment. 

Before you can start reaping the benefits of renting your house, you first have to prepare the house itself and take preliminary legal and financial steps. 

While these initial actions may seem hefty on the wallet and personal calendar at first, they will pay off in the long run. 

Think of the time and money you spend as an investment that ensures your house is clean, secure, and legally sound.

And if you know exactly what needs to be done, the process can be relatively straightforward.

First, let’s focus on the physical house itself.

House Structure

Hire an Inspector

Right off the bat, you might want to consider hiring a professional inspector. 

They can ensure your house is structurally sound and free of termite, mold, and pest damage. 

Further they can make certain that your house is not in any danger from electrical, water, or any other form of damage.

Fumigate & Deodorize

Beyond an inspection, you might want to also get your house fumigated and deodorized. 

The fumigation process will clean the house of any potential pest problem and the deodorization will cleanse the house of any smells you may have become nose-blind to.

Check House Systems

Once the larger house has been properly inspected, it is time to get a bit more specific with your prep.

Electrics, HVAC, & Plumbing

To give the electrics in your house a quick check, you want to flip all switches and see that all bulbs turn on. If any lights are out or faulty, make the necessary fix. A defective light can make a quick, poor impression during a house tour.

Make sure the HVAC system is fully operational, blowing hot and cold air, and replace any old air vents. Not only does this make your house more desirable, but can also be crucial to the health of your tenants and the house itself.

Test all plumbing in your house, including the sinks, showers, and toilets; ensure sinks and showers have hot water and toilets can flush. And give your water heater a visual inspection to make sure nothing looks out of place.

Check Appliances

With the house structure and general systems in order, make certain that all the appliances in the house are in working order.

Fridge/Freezer

Not only should the fridge be below 40℉ and the freezer below 0℉, but the entire unit should also be as clean as the day it was bought. This means free of food scraps, stains, and defects. If anything is damaged, look into getting a replacement part.

Oven

Check that the oven does in fact get hot. 550℉ is roughly the max temperature for new ovens, but a simple preheat should tell you whether the oven needs any work. And check that the oven light works, replacing it if necessary.

Also make sure all the racks slide well and are clean of any food remains, along with the entire interior of the oven.

Stove

Ensure all burners turn on and have a full range from high to low, properly controlled by the knobs. Give the entire unit, including the grates if it’s a gas stove, a proper cleaning.

Dishwasher

Run a cycle, preferably with dirty dishes inside, and check that the dishes actually get cleaned. 

Additionally, look out for any leaks or strange noises that could become a bigger problem in the future if left unsolved.

Laundry Machines

Essentially the same procedure as the dishwasher.

Run a load of dirty laundry and make sure all the clothes get cleaned and dried without having to run the load multiple times. Also keep an eye and ear open for any leaks or strange noises. 

Further, make sure the dryer is properly ventilating as that can become a major fire hazard, jeopardizing your entire property.

Microwave

Much like the oven, you want to make sure the microwave can get warm. Simply throw some leftovers in there and see if they get warmed up without having to run it for 10 minutes.

Then give the entire unit a thorough cleaning, inside and out.

Garbage Disposal

A well-operating garbage disposal should make no unusual sounds nor emit repulsive smells; further, check that nothing is obstructing the blades, such as utensils or glass fragments.

Hood Vent

Check that all fan speeds work and all lights turn on. You can test the strength of the fan with a lit match. 

Replace vent filters and hood lights as needed.

Fireplace

Make sure the chimney is operational and doesn’t smoke out the house. Clean the fireplace of ash and debris. Vacuum any remains. Scrub the inside with a stiff brush and cleaning solution.

Garage Door

It should open and close with no problems and automatically stop when an object obstructs it. 

Check any remotes and replace batteries if needed. If it squeaks and/or makes excessive noise, consider greasing the chain and rails.

Doorbell

Does it go ding dong?

Exterior Cleaning

Now that the house has been thoroughly checked and is in an operating condition, you should give the house an overall cleaning. Let’s start with the outside of the house and yard.

Clutter

First, the property around the house should be free of any clutter or unnecessary items. 

You want your property to have a calming and inviting appearance for tenants; unwanted objects can be seen as junk and/or make your house seem less like a home to prospective tenants.

Next, give the exterior of the house a solid cleaning. 

Walls & Windows

Hose off the outside to get rid of any spider webs or generic filth that has accumulated. You can also use a power washer but be careful not to damage the paint or windows.

Clean all windows with a standard window cleaner, including any window frames and sills.

Roof

The roof of your house is not only important for keeping out weather, but adds to the first impression for prospective tenants; so give your roof an inspection and cleaning.

Clear it of any debris and droppings from nearby trees. If your roof is covered in dirt and moss, consider giving it a power washing or manual scraping, with the help of cleaning solutions, for exceptionally dirty roofs.

Further you should make sure that all roof tiles are in place and intact. A few broken or missing roof tiles can lead to serious problems in the future.

Paint

Depending on the condition of your house, you might want to consider a fresh coat of paint. 

Not only does this make your house look better, it also adds a fresh, protective layer to the exterior of your property.

Landscaping

While you do not need to completely redo your yard, you should definitely give your entire yard a facelift, if necessary.

If you have a sprinkler system, make sure it functions properly and there are no exposed hoses or pipes.

All vegetation should be trimmed and yard debris properly disposed of. If your yard has any wood chips or pebbles, consider adding a fresh layer, as the color may have faded from the sun.

Also make sure any exterior lights are working properly, including any sort of time based system, and replace lights as necessary.

Driveways & Walkways

If you have a driveway or any other concrete walkways, a power washing will quickly revitalize their appearance.

Just be careful to not chip away any outdoor tiles with the power washer.

Hire a Professional Landscaper

While all of this can be done by a homeowner, you can also save yourself a weekend of yard work and hire a professional gardener to get your yard whipped into shape.

Interior Cleaning

Much like the exterior of the house, there are a few key areas you should clean on the interior of your house.

Attic

If you have an attic space, make sure it is properly emptied out and free of any filth. Depending on the condition of the attic, give it a vacuuming and/or sweeping.

Windows

Just like with the exterior, give the windows, frames, and sills a proper cleaning with the appropriate cleaning products. 

Floors

Give all your flooring a thorough cleaning. 

Mop hardwood floors with hardwood cleaning oil, vacuum and steam clean all rugs and carpets, and scrub tile floors, including the grout.

Safety Precautions

Beyond inspecting and cleaning your house, you should also consider the safety features of your house. 

These will serve two purposes: making the tenants feel safer in your house and giving you the peace of mind that your property and investment are protected.

Fire Measures

Start with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Not only are these basic safety tools for the health of your tenants and house, but they are also required by law. Make sure you have a few alarms, with new batteries, spread out across the house.

While you’re preparing for smoke, you might as well prepare for fire also. A small, household fire extinguisher is a smart item to have in any home.

If you already have one, make sure it has not expired as an expired extinguisher will make for an unpleasant surprise when it is actually needed. Further, make sure you store it in an easily accessible location.

Anti-Burglary

Beyond the risk of fire, the next disaster you should consider investing against is the risk of break-in.

First off, make sure all the windows and doors lock properly. If you have had other tenants in the past, consider changing all the locks to ensure no one else has a key to your house.

Next, consider full-house alarm systems. There are a multitude of companies that can install top-notch home security systems that will give you peace of mind for a relatively small fee.

As an alternative to, or perhaps in conjunction with, a home security system, you can also consider installing some form of CCTV around your house. 

There are many affordable products on the market that will allow you to video monitor your property 24/7.

Legal Steps

With the physical aspect of the house taken care of, you should turn your attention to the administrative side of preparing your house for rental.

Insurance & Mortgage

First, you need to update your insurance from homeowners insurance to landlord insurance. Since your property will no longer be owner-occupied, you will want tenant-occupied coverage.

Next, you will want to inform your mortgage company, assuming you have a mortgage.

Since the bank technically owns part of your house, they have lender’s rights and will need to be notified that you are no longer the primary resident.

Laws & Taxes

You will also want to look into local laws concerning renting your property. These can vary by municipality and you should be well versed so they don’t come back to bite you in the future.

There are also opportunities for tax breaks since your house is now becoming a business and expenses to maintain your property are now business investments. 

You could technically just eat these expenditures, but it would be wise for your wallet to know how you can save a few dollars come tax season.

Acquiring Tenants

With your house physically and legally sorted, you now want to fill your empty house with a tenant.

Marketing

Unless you already have a specific tenant in mind,  you will need to market your rental so prospective tenants know it is available.

This can be done with online advertisements on posting boards like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Reddit, and Nextdoor. 

Tenant Screening

Once you have acquired a few prospective tenants, you will need to go through the tenant screening process.

A thorough tenant screening will involve a background check, credit report, criminal history, eviction history, employment history, income verification, and personal references.

While it may seem painstakingly exhaustive, this process will protect your house, a major investment, from any troublesome tenants that can majorly cost you in the long-run.

Lease Agreement

Once you have decided upon a tenant, you will need to formulate and sign a lease agreement.There are many aspects that go into a lease agreement, but the main few are rent pricing, house rules, and lease terms.

PricingThe price of your house’s rent will vary by location, size, amenities, and condition of the house. However, you will want to budget your rent to ensure it covers your own expenditures.

The rent and security deposit should be enough to cover any mortgage payments and potential future maintenance issues with the house. If you’re not turning a profit every month, then the whole point of renting your house has been defeated.

House RulesHouse rules is a vague term but it covers any specific rules you deem necessary. This includes the pet policy, smoking policy, and noise policy. 

These are generally up to your own discretion and what you are comfortable with, but can also be affected by local laws.

Lease TermsThe lease terms are the base of the entire lease agreement. 

They stipulate how long the lease is valid for, when rent will be paid, when termination of the lease is viable.

You will also want to specify how utilities will be covered and the maintenance policy. 

In Conclusion

Renting out your house can be a very wise and lucrative decision. However, there are many steps that must be taken if you want to ensure you are maximizing and protecting your property.

While it may seem daunting at first, in a relatively short period of time, with plenty of hard work, you can reap the benefits of being a landlord.

However, if the above steps seem like a lot to handle on your own, you can always consider hiring a professional property management company.

With their years of experience, they can make the rental process smooth and stress free; so you can focus on what to do with your new revenue flow.

Ready to transform your property into a profitable rental but overwhelmed by the process? Let Simba Property Management take the reins. Our expert team is dedicated to making your rental journey smooth and stress-free, ensuring your investment is maximized and protected. Don’t let the complexities of property management hold you back.

Contact us today and start enjoying the benefits of your rental property with peace of mind. Click here to get started with Simba Property Management – your partner in profitable property renting.

Preparing a House to Rent

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