Investing in your future by purchasing a rental property in the D.C. area can be highly lucrative. It also takes significant work, and ensuring you’re ready for the responsibility before you begin is essential.
Finding tenants and keeping them happy might sound simple on the surface, but you’ll have many underlying duties to complete before moving people into the apartment. These jobs continue once you have people living in your rental property, too, as the work seemingly never ends.
Creating and following a checklist with all the necessary tasks can make the job easier and guarantee you don’t miss anything. This guide includes tips for finding the perfect tenants and an apartment essentials checklist to follow the first time you rent out your new investment property.
Tips for Finding Tenants for Your Apartment
Renting your apartment for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. You’ll likely have to trust a complete stranger to live in a unit you own, which can bring anxiety. Some tips for finding high-quality tenants for your rental property include the following:
Have an Ideal Tenant in Mind
You should know what you’re looking for before you begin the process. Create a prototype tenant in your mind and try to find a person or family that meets your ideal requirements. Knowing the type of person you want to rent to can help you narrow your choices down when the time comes.
Develop an Advertising Strategy
Effectively marketing your apartment can help you locate your ideal tenant. You’ll want to make the unit look as appealing as possible by taking pictures and writing a short description that accurately portrays its positives. Poor photos and descriptions can limit the engagement your advertisement receives, reducing the number of applicants looking to rent the place.
Perhaps the most important aspect of finding a renter is checking references. Anyone can fake a rental application form, filling out fake references and making themselves look as good as possible. You’ll want to check those references before agreeing to let anyone move in, as lying on this form is a clear red flag and is a behavior of someone you should avoid.
Locating tenants who will care for your property can ease your transition into life as a landlord. You’ll still have some duties to complete before your tenants move in, though, ensuring they’re happy with the arrangement moving forward.
Seven Things You Must Do Before Your Tenants Move In
It would be nice if you could just move your tenants in without any additional work, but it isn’t realistic. The apartment probably isn’t brand new, so you must ensure it’s in good shape and handle the necessary paperwork. Some apartment essentials you must complete before move-in day include the following:
1. Complete a Safety Check
You could get in trouble with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs if you let a tenant move into an apartment with unsafe living conditions, so completing a safety check beforehand is a vital step. Your safety check should include an inspection of the roof, walls, and floors while installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replacing the batteries when necessary. You’ll also want to check common areas like hallways, staircases, and elevators for hazards you can relay to your tenants.
2. Handle Repairs
Address any necessary repairs before your new tenant takes possession. This step could include fixing issues with the plumbing, electrical, HVAC, ventilation, and hot water heating systems to ensure they’re in working order. Replacing light bulbs, window screens, and door hinges could also be necessary, depending on the apartment’s age and condition.
3. Clean Thoroughly
The seller probably cleaned the apartment before you purchased it, but there might have been some foot traffic since that time that has created some issues. Cleaning the apartment as thoroughly as possible shows respect for your new tenants by providing them with a tidy space from the first day. It also sets expectations for how you expect the apartment to look when they move out.
4. Do a Walk-Through
Having your new tenants come for a walk-through before they move in allows you to point out any existing damage to the apartment so they’re aware of it. You can also tell them that any additional damage will come from their security deposit. This walk-through is about establishing relationships and expectations for the apartment while the tenants live there.
5. Change the Locks
Installing new locks or rekeying the existing ones is a vital job you must complete between tenants. You never know how many keys a past tenant might have cut, so eliminating the chance of them returning to the apartment is essential. Keyless access systems or smart locks streamline this process because you can remove access without changing the existing lock.
6. Create a Lease Agreement
Writing up an appropriate lease agreement protects you and your renters throughout their tenancy. This contract will include information on the rental term, rent amount, security deposits, right of entry, agreement for maintenance, accountability for damage, and the right to keep pets. You and your tenants must sign these documents before continuing the process.
7. Collect Rent and Damage Deposits
Asking for the first and last month’s rent and a damage deposit before allowing a tenant to move in is advisable. Getting this money up front limits your risk because you won’t have to worry about your tenant suddenly moving out and leaving you with a vacancy. It also protects you from damage.
Following this checklist makes starting your career as a landlord in D.C. easier. The result is a smoother transition period as you get used to owning a rental property.
Rental Property Assistance
Dealing with tenants, handling repairs, completing maintenance, and collecting rent can be exhausting, especially if you don’t have the necessary experience. One solution is hiring a property manager to assist with the day-to-day operations of your rental apartment, eliminating much of the workload from your plate.
Nomadic Real Estate offers property management services in the Greater D.C. area. Our team will advertise your apartment, vet applicants, and prepare your property for your tenants, ensuring everything goes smoothly. Contact Nomadic Real Estate to learn more about apartment essentials and our property management solutions.