Delays can hurt your business, but it’s important to fix the problem before something bad happens. Want to be your tenant’s favorite landlord? Follow this rental inspection checklist to be organized and stay on top of what you should do every year to save money, starting with regular maintenance.
1. Renew the lease
Unless you’re purposefully renting month after month, it’s wise to get your tenants back on a one-year long lease. In most states, if you do not renew the lease every year, the annual lease will return to the lease from one month to the next.
You should offer your tenant a renewal of the lease 90 days before the lease expires. Send an email or a letter with lease renewal papers or go to the tenant in person. Make sure you include the details, including the rental price, including the current lease and renewal terms.
A tip: if you rent a unit in the winter, just sign a six- or nine-month lease to get started, so the renewal date will expire in the summer, when the units will be easier to fill; Then renew with a one year lease.
2. Check the market rent to make sure you are equal
The rent market is liquid and, for example, the market rent is bound to change. Every year, you should check that all your rentals are close to what the market will carry, or you can throw good money out the window.
You can verify the market rent by checking with local property managers or asking real estate agents. You can browse the internet and look at the properties you manage to see if the rents are similar to yours. If your rental prices are not consistent with similar features in your area, you may need to change them.
Adjusting the rental price to match the market rental can make your rental market more competitive. If your price is too low, you may lose money. But if they are too much, it can be difficult to find a tenant willing to pay your price.
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Here are our favorite tips and strategies for managing rental properties – directly from professionals.
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3. Smoke alarm / carbon monoxide inspection
Do your best and check the smoke alarm every year. If you live in a state that requires carbon monoxide detectors in all units, be sure to check them out as well.
Some tenants simply throw away a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector instead of replacing the battery. This is the responsibility of the property owner. Ensuring that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in operation will keep your tenants (and buildings) safe by reducing the risk of fire or other safety-related issues that could cost you valuable time and resources.
Alternatively, you can include a clause in the lease for which each tenant must fulfill this obligation. This will protect the landlord from any lawsuits resulting from a fire or carbon monoxide leak.
4. Check for water leakage
Water leaks can cost you a lot of money in the long run. When water leaks, it is lost to the environment where it is needed, such as toilets or showers.
In most places, water is not cheap. Unnecessary water bills can cost hundreds of dollars per month. Leaks can damage water on walls and floors, which can be costly to repair. Regularly checking for leaks and fixing plumbing before it becomes a real problem is much less expensive. Be sure to make sure your water heater, drain, faucet, air conditioner, and any appliances that use water do not leak – and pay close attention to any wet stains on the ceiling.
If you have any leaks, call your contractor. Discuss your needs to determine the next steps and get a cost estimate. We promise, a leak will mean money spent on fixing problems early on.
5. Make sure your key works
Tenants change their locks for whatever reason. However, as a landlord, it is important that you have a functional key to all your property, so if you are not living in a rented home, you gain access (legally, of course). There is nothing more frustrating than a maintenance person who is paying you for hours on end, showing up to work and not unlocking the door with the key you gave them. Check your annual rental property inspection key to make sure you have the right one.
If you want to make a copy of a key, go to your local home improvement store for help.
6. Check your insurance rate
Insurance is a fun industry. They let you switch with very low rates and then start raising your rates for no real reason. It’s no surprise that every insurance company claims that people will “save hundreds of dollars by switching to us!” That’s why it’s wise to shop at a good rate at least once a year.
That said, changing insurance companies can be a nightmare, so switch only if you get enough savings or significantly improved coverage
To determine which company pays the best price, look online or call local insurance agents. Take advantage of special promotions and deals. Some companies benefit new members by visiting them, which will save you money.
Being a homeowner can be fun – if you do it right
No matter how great you are at finding a good rental property deal, you can lose everything if you do not manage your property properly. Being a landlord means night phone calls, expensive evictions, or daily frustrations with ungrateful tenants.
7. Get updated tenant contact and emergency contact information
Tenants are people, and people change their phone numbers from time to time. The numbers you collected in Move-in may now be different. It is important to confirm this information with your tenants annually, so you have the most accurate contact number for them. Also get their email address and emergency contact information when verifying their phone number, just thoroughly.
You can email, call or visit tenants annually to confirm. This will prevent problems in the future if there is a pressing issue and you need to contact them as soon as possible.
8. Replace the furnace filter (or have your tenant verify)
Furnace filters need to be replaced frequently, and although this is probably the tenant’s responsibility, they probably aren’t doing it. Therefore, it is your responsibility as a landlord to verify that this has happened.
A tenant may argue that old furnace filters impair air quality, which can cause legal trouble for the landlord. It can also cause security problems and set the home on fire, which will also be bad for the homeowner in terms of insurance, lawsuits and property damage.
In addition, having an old or poorly fitting filter will make the furnace work harder. This will lead to more frequent maintenance which costs extra money which will not be required if the filters are replaced regularly.
Furnace filters at home improvement stores are relatively inexpensive (about $ 10), and they are not too difficult to replace. However, if you are not sure how to do it, you can hire a contractor to do it.
9. Clean the drain
If you have trees near your rental property, your drains need to be cleaned of leaves and debris at least once a year. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, hire a professional to clean the sewer – it’s not too expensive. Keeping the water flowing properly is fundamental to keeping your property in optimal shape for the longest time.
If “external maintenance” or “landscaping” is not explicitly described as the tenant’s responsibility to lease, the work is the landlord’s.
10. Renew your rental license
You may need to register your rental property or have a rental license, and any renewals are usually on an annual basis. In some areas of the country, if you fail to register, your tenant may be financially rewarded. Yes, that means you will pay your tenant.
Ask your city or state authorities for guidance on registering your rental property or license. Most areas have online resources for homeowners, offering registration that is valid until the end of each calendar year. Registration fee is applicable.
11. Thank your tenants
Lastly, don’t forget that your tenants are the lifeblood of your business. Therefore, do something nice for your tenants at least once a year to let them know that you care for them. It can be as simple as a holiday card or a phone call to rent from you and thank them for wishing you a great year.
A big problem for cash flow is the tenant emptiness. By letting your tenants know you appreciate them, you will find that they last longer and are more enjoyable to work during the rest of the year.
We are all busy, but being a landlord has certain responsibilities in building a solid, long-lasting business. This list will help you get or stay on track. (Special thanks to Darren Cesar for helping with this post.)