“10 Tasks Landlords Must Do Before Tenants Rent A Space For Lease” written by Mike Marko.
What is the next step after accepting new tenants?
If you think that your job is done after accepting new tenants, then you’re wrong. Your job just started. And there are still a lot of work to do before you could start collecting rents.
Making sure they are satisfied with the condition of the property, before they actually move in, is part of being a landlord.
Maintenance duties are just one of the duties that you should undertake after accepting tenants. These duties will contribute to the tenants’ satisfaction on your business. And it’s a key on keeping good tenants to rent your leased spaces.
That’s why today we’ll be talking about what you need to do before a tenant moves into the space for lease.
Landlord’s Responsibilities Before The Lease Starts On A Space For Lease
Being the landlord or property manager comes with a big responsibility.
Keeping the rental units you are managing rented is the key to making your business successful.
When preparing property for rent, changing tenants, or fixing up properties for rental purposes, you should expect to undertake a number of tasks when handling both the property and the tenants.
Prior to renting or moving in new tenants to a rental property the following task need to be completed to ensure the new tenant will be happy and satisfied with the property they are renting. However when preparing properties for rental purposes doing the tasks to make that property available for rent is just one of the major responsibilities that landlords will have to face.
Neglecting or not completely preparing a property for a new tenant to rent will commonly result in tenants not extending their lease term or maybe leaving earlier than the lease end date. That’s why you should be meticulous in making sure that these tasks are done on a monthly schedule and prior to renting any of your properties.
On the other hand, let’s first understand what is meant by landlord duties before we dwell on the responsibilities of being one.
What Is Meant By Basic Landlord Duties
The property manager or landlord’s responsibility is to make sure the properties they are renting are occupied and to keep the property in good condition while attending to their tenants’ needs during the rental of that property.
Basically, the main duty is to make space for lease a “habitable” place for tenants would want to live and to rent. That means you should ensure that the space is clean, safe, and free from any dangers to the tenants who will rent it.
Businesses that offer space for lease have to make sure that the property is a place where one can comfortably stay in and conduct the business that they are in. A commercial space needs to be clean, safe, and offer a workplace in which there are no hazards or defects present.
Regardless of residential or commercial rental space these properties need to be upkept and meet with all state and local building and health codes.
If the space for lease is meant for residential tenants, then it has to be free of health and safety issues.
Make sure that it has no issues such as:
- No working plumbing,
- No gas,
- No working electricity,
- Broken windows or doors,
- Unclean areas of the buildings,
- Unkempt grounds that are not sanitary and safe,
- Resolve or remove any mold issue,
- Remove any lead based paints or toxic chemicals.
Even if your property is in good condition there are still some common maintenance and repair things you need to do before a tenant moves in.
10 Things To Do Before Tenants Move Into The Space For Lease
When renting your properties you need to make sure that tenants are able to move into a clean, safe, and hazard free space.
When filling in vacancies for your properties you are basically guaranteeing them that the space they are renting is habitable and safe to move into. To make sure that the tenants become comfortable you should develop a tenants’ move-in transition to insure the move will go as smooth as much as possible.
When a tenant is satisfied with the rental property on move-in day, it sets the stage for success. This could give them reason to stay in your space for a longer period of time… and therefore increase your business profitability (in most cases tenant turnover costs more money than keeping existing tenants).
To make the process easier for you and your tenants, and to help ensure you are providing the best rental unit available for them, here are 10 things that you need to do every time a new tenant moves into one of your rental units…
1. Fix And Damage/Health Or Safety Issues
Prior to a tenant moving in it’s important to inspect the property first and repair its damages.
When evaluating the property you have to make sure that your property is free from health or safety issues. One major health and safety requirements is to make sure that the rental property has two forms of exit from the unit.
Another key safety item to fix and make sure it is running effectively is to make sure that all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors must be working properly. This is a fire safety code requirement and will help to ensure your tenants have a safe habitable space to rent.
The space you are providing for rent should allow tenants to face any dangers regarding their health and safety. making the space clean, safe and habitable will assure your tenants they are renting a place they can live and work in safely in your commercial building or residential rental.
Checking your property for any signs of mold, removing it, and preventing it from developing in the future can help minimize health issues. Aside from that, if your rental property is constructed before 1978 you should also make sure that it’s free from lead-based paint hazards.
2. Clean The Property
When providing tenants a new place for rent the most important task to complete is to make sure that the rental has been cleaned properly to help the move in transition run smoothly. Cleaning the property is necessary and inspecting and cleaning areas such as the tub, toilet, stove, and refrigerator, floor space are key to making the rental appealable to the new tenant.
Even if nobody had ever lived in the property before and everything inside it is brand new keeping it clean is a must. You should hire a cleaning company to vacuum or sweep the unit routinely to remove any debris or dust until the property is rented.
It’s important that the property must be bug free and hiring an exterminator service to ensure this is key prior to any tenant move-in. This helps in ensuring there is no noticeable cleanliness or bug problem in the unit that the new tenant would have to address.
3. Ensure That The Heat, Plumbing, And Electric Are Working
Part of providing a habitable rental space you should check if all utilities to make sure that they are working before a tenant moves in. Regardless of who is responsible for the utilities it’s still your responsibility to make the rental space habitable so as a practice you should always check the following:
- The heat is working in all rooms.
- There are no clogs or leaks in the plumbing.
- All outlets and overhead lights in every room are operational.
- The building is electrically wired
- Safety and fire codes compliant
Doing this will satisfy your tenant and ensure that you are providing a habitable space for them to move into. Having working utilities will save their time from having to fix nonworking utilities. Also by doing this will leave a good impression on your tenants that could make them decide to stay for a longer term.
4. Let The Tenants Sign The Lease After Discussing It Thoroughly With Them
The rental lease is a contract that details all responsibilities of the rental of the property. Prior to having any new tenant move into a rental property you should thoroughly discuss each section of your lease agreement with the tenant. Explain the clauses and terms in detail answering any questions that may arise. To avoid any misunderstandings or disputes during the rental of the property you need to make sure that they completely understand what they are agreeing to.
Taking the time to review and explain the lease fully will assure them that you are a diligent and responsible property manager since they will be well-informed of their rights and your responsibilities to them in the rental space. In case conflicts will arise the rental lease contract will be the legal document that will be ruled on by the court.
Having an agreed to legal document to follow while renting the property will give you the confidence that you didn’t neglect your duty to inform them about each clause.
After explaining each clause or term to the contract it is common to let your tenant ask questions. This can help you further clarify what you stated in your lease making sure both of you understand what is being agreed to and that you are on the same page in understanding the document.
Having a discussion, negotiation, and agreement on the rental lease will help you negotiate any further requests of the tenants for the clauses included in the lease agreement. Once everything is clarified for you and your tenant then it is common to expect that both parties will agree to sign the contract…
5. Collect First Month’s Rent and Security Deposit
It’s common for property managers to collect the first month’s rent and the entire security deposit before the tenant moves in. However, you can’t collect the advance payment if the tenant is receiving government assistance such as from Section 8.
The Section 8 will send you the check once the tenant has moved into the unit.
6. Have The Property Inspected If Required
Inspection before a tenant moves in is necessary especially if it’s a rental law requirement in your area.
In some states, the inspection is done every five years and a Certificate of Habitability will be provided.
If you’re renting to a Section 8 tenant, then a Section 8 inspector will be the one to inspect your property. They have their own rules for health and safety specifically for Section 8 tenants.
Section 8 requires the unit to be inspected annually. Their job is to ensure that the Section 8 tenant is satisfied and safe.
7. Change Locks
Changing locks is necessary for security reasons.
Before a new tenant moves in, always change the locks on the property. Doing this helps keep you away from any sorts of liability.
This process also prevents your current tenant from worrying about the possibility of former tenants intruding into the space… especially when no one’s around. If you skip this task, you risk the chance that a former tenant will trespass. This could open you up to all sorts of legal liability.
8. Go Through The Move-In Checklist
Complete a move-in checklist with the tenant on their actual move-in day.
The checklist describes the overall condition of the property.
During this process, the property manager should walk the tenant through each room of the rented property.
The checklist sets the baseline. It helps landlords show the tenant what the rented property should look like after the tenant’s tenancy (and can later be used to help you justify withholding damage deposit for repairs, etc).
During the process, you should also take photos of each room.
The taken photos will serve as your reference or evidence that the rented space was good in good condition before the tenant moved in. You’ll be able to use these photos when the tenant finishes his/her lease term with you.
The property manager, landlord, or someone in the property’s management team, should sign the checklist once it’s done.
9. Give The Tenant Your Contact Information
As the property manager, you should provide the tenant with your contact information.
A reliable source of communication is important. If tenants have questions or complaints, they should be able to reach the management easily.
Provide a phone number or email address.
But don’t forget to inform your tenants that they could only make a call during business hours. Respond immediately if the tenant calls due to an emergency.
10. Go Through Any Specific Tenant Requests or Conditions
Before the new tenant moves in, listen and consider complying with their request as long as it isn’t going to significantly affect your business.
Usually, tenants are asking to…
- Repaint the property a certain color.
- Install a washer/dryer prior to moving in.
- Receive a government assistance housing voucher.
- Allow a service animal.
If the tenant asks for a government assistance or a service dog, the landlord or the property manager is legally required to take the appropriate steps to accommodate the tenant.
After all, it is your duty to keep the leased space a habitable place for the tenants. And if a service dog will help the place habitable for the tenant, then you should just allow it.
Final Thoughts On What Landlords Should Do Before Renting Out A Space For Lease
In this blog post we talked about how to make sure that the property is ready before the accepted tenant moves in. We discussed key responsibilities you need to take care of in order to ensure a smooth move in day, and to help ensure you start things on the right foot.
Don’t take your tenants for granted.
Inspect your property prior to the move in so you can proactively address problems. It will help minimize misunderstandings and complaints during the tenancy.
Even if the space for lease is being rented for the first time, pre-inspections are still necessary.
The goal is to have a clean and safe home free of significant repair. You are setting the stage for long term success, and the tenant is likely to stay longer: ultimately increasing the overall profitability of your property management business.
If you have any questions regarding a landlord’s responsibilities on a space for lease, you can leave them below.
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