The best rental property owners are always one step ahead of whatever comes their way. They make it a point to be proactive, rather than reactive. With the brief rise in temperature the last few days it was a welcome sign that Spring is not too far away. While every change of season is important, there is a strong argument that spring is the most important for landlords.
Not only do you need to evaluate your property after a long winter, you also need to get it ready for a grueling summer. Without doing a few basic preventive maintenance items in the spring, your property will not run as efficiently, and you will end up paying more in the long run. Putting a little time, money and effort into your rental now, will help you reap the rewards for many years to come. Here are five items you should consider doing to get your property ready for the spring.
- Get ready for lease turnover. The most stressful period for any landlord is the lease turnover. There is a few week stretch where you need to get your new tenant ready to move in while simultaneously ushering out your existing tenant. Like anything else with a rental property, dealing with this few weeks before is much better than trying to scramble around a week before move out day. You should develop a system to deal with both parties. On the move in side, there should be defined dates and expectations for how things will go. Reiterate any important items on the lease and make sure there is no misunderstanding. The move out piece is often much harder. You need to send your existing tenant any pictures or videos you have from move in. Explain that this is the condition the property should be returned in. Ask if there are any potential issues with the property you should know about or any lingering concerns. The goal is not to take their security, but rather to fix a small problem before it turns into a big one. Get yourself and your tenants organized now, before the pressure is really on.
- Landscaping. If you don’t tackle landscaping projects in the spring, you may well miss your window. There are still a few weeks left before spring. You can bet that there will be at least one more window storm to contend with. Because of this you don’t necessarily need to start your landscaping projects tomorrow, but you should get a mental list prepared. This is especially important if you need to attract new tenants. First impressions often matter in areas with excessive demand. You want to have everything in place so when the ground softens you can start right up. Additionally, you may be able to secure a discount on bulk items such as mulch and even lawn cutting services if you act early enough.
- Deck/porch. Even with a relatively mild winter, you can bet that your deck took a pounding. According to a recent study, a deck and patio area offers the highest return on your home improvement investment. This may be an afterthought as a landlord, but decks can generate tenants. You don’t need to build a 1000 square foot deck from scratch. Whatever you have is usually enough, but you must care of it. Start by replacing any old rotted or broken boards. You can put a fresh coat of paint on them, but all this does is mask the problem instead of fixing it. New stain or wood paint should be done every year. If you use the same color this truly won’t take you more than a few minutes of your time. The spring offers the perfect temperature for this and allows your exterior to look as good as new prior to tenants entering your property.
- HVAC update. It cannot be understated just how important preventative maintenance is to a property. Whatever you do for your primary residence, must be done for a rental. In fact, it is more important on a rental because you can bet your tenants don’t take care of the property the same way you do. In addition to the furnace the HVAC is the second most important item you need to stay on top of. From the end of May until the middle of September the air is going to crank from your rental. Sure, you can probably get away without changing the filter or topping off the fluids and not notice a dip in production. However, the more you use it the less efficient it will be. Instead of spending a few bucks on maintenance you will pay to replace a larger, more expensive, item.
- Full house clean. There is a difference between being tidy and clean. Most adult tenants are usually tidy. They keep the house tidy enough and don’t make a mockery out of it. But, very few, if any tenants are willing to clean the house. They don’t clean the windows or vacuum the closet. As a landlord it is essential to professionally clean the property at least once a year, regardless if your tenant is staying or not. Not only is this wise for sanitary reasons, but your tenants will appreciate it. It also sets a precedent for how the property should look for new tenants entering your property.
There is nothing like spring cleaning for a reason. Even though spring seems a good bit away, it will be here before you know it. Get on top of your spring-cleaning list today.