Renting out a house means more than picking a tenant and handing over the keys. Your house must be in rent ready condition, which means it is safe, functional and attractive to potential renters. Everything in the house is expected to be clean, working and inviting before you hang a "for rent" sign and start advertising for tenants.
Get your house ready to rent by giving it a thorough and professional cleaning from top to bottom. Do more than sweep away the cobwebs. Give the carpets a deep clean, scrub and wipe down every possible surface and floor, and wash the windows. Scour any of the appliances that come with the property, such as the refrigerator and the dishwasher. Pack up and clear out all of your personal belongings if you were living at the property. Look for anything previous renters may have left behind in closets, garages or outbuildings if you are between tenants. A house is ready to rent when it looks, feels and smells clean.
Curb appeal is very important when it comes to attracting tenants. The best way to attract a high-quality tenant is by making your house look nice inside and out. Apply a fresh coat of exterior paint if necessary and landscape the lawn. Keep the grass mowed and green, the bushes and shrubs trimmed, and the driveways, decks and patios free of debris and trash. Weed any flower beds and make the house look especially ready to rent by placing a pot of flowers or a hanging plant at the front entrance.
Maintenance and Repairs
Spend time walking through your house and checking that everything works. Replace any screens that are torn or broken, change the air filters, and test the electricity, water, heating and cooling systems. Change the locks to all the doors. Finish any necessary repairs to the house before you put it on the market. A house is not rent ready if the railings are loose, the furnace needs to be serviced, or the water heater is leaking.
Get some professional help in determining whether your house is rent ready. A professional property manager can conduct a walk-through and help you to make any necessary adjustments before the house hits the rental market. If you don't use a property manager to rent out your house, have a lawyer review your lease to ensure that it is enforceable in your state. Change your insurance policy from a homeowners policy to a landlord policy to make your house rent ready.
Cari Oleskewicz is a writer and blogger who has contributed to online and print publications including "The Washington Post," "Italian Cooking and Living," "Sasee Magazine" and Pork and Gin. She is based in Tampa, Florida and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and journalism from Marist College.