When you have a rental property, it is very different from owning your own home. When you live in your own home you can make upgrades whenever you want, clean as much as you feel is necessary, and keep everything looking the way you want it to. A rental property, however, is generally at the mercy of your tenant. Not everyone has the same idea of what "clean" is or how important it is to keep things looking a certain way. This is when it is important to come up with some ideas of how to keep your apartment looking nice from tenant to tenant. Flooring is arguably the most important thing about a rental space. It is always used, always touched in one way or another, and will always get dirty. For this reason, many landlords prefer to put down hardwood flooring to carpet. Carpet can, and does, stain even with accidental spills or forgetting to wipe the mud off of your boots as you come running in from a storm. If you must use carpet, we suggest a darker color to not show so much dirt. We also suggest finding another option for the kitchen, bathroom, entry area, or laundry room if your rental property has one. Tile or laminate flooring is a favorite of many and is relatively easy to keep clean with minimal effort. Making sure things are installed correctly is something that is incredibly important. If you are looking to add curtain rods or shelving, then we always suggest finding a stud in the wall to anchor it if possible. If you find that your previous tenant had hung something and tore part of the drywall out, be sure to replace it correctly and not with filler and paint. The next tenant may want to hang something in the same place only to have it fail and cause more damage to your walls. This is something that your new tenant should not be punished for, but it is something that needs to be fixed. Unless you have a horrible tenant, the upkeep between residents should be minimal each time you have someone new move in. A fresh coat of paint or maybe some new blinds should really be the extent of your repairs. Always be sure to keep things nice and bright for your new residents.
Picture this: you have gone through the complete tenant screening process and have found the perfect fit for your apartment. Let's say it's a single woman in her late twenties who has a cat but is quiet, respectful, and has a wonderful steady job. You agree on and sign a lease for a year, but in four months she meets the person she things may just be "the one". She asks this special someone to spend the night every now and then which is fine, but then this person gets a drawer of stuff to leave at the apartment. Then that drawer becomes a full dresser and before you know it the apartment you signed for one person suddenly has two living in it. What are you to do? Is there anything you could have done to avoid this situation in the first place? Let's see what your options are. One of the first things you should know is that it is illegal in many states to ask someone if they are in a relationship during the interview process. If this is the case (or even if it isn't and you simply don't want to know the details), you can always ask if there will likely be someone staying in the apartment with them for a certain amount of time. Explain that anyone who stays more than three or four nights a week (or month) is considered a tenant by your lease and must be screened as well. This can help prevent you from finding out that there have been two people living in the place when you were under the impression that there would only be one. This is something that should be backed up by your lease. Include a clause that states that anyone found to be living in the apartment for a certain amount of days per month is also considered a tenant and will also have to pay rent. You may even want to explain that this may be terms for termination of the lease. At the end of the day, it is up to you how you feel like handling this situation but you want to be able to have all of your bases covered. You certainly don't want to be caught off guard with a squatter of any kind.
Sometimes, being a landlord is much more difficult than people think. After all, you need to find a good tenant, make sure their payments come on time, handle any issues they have with the apartment, and hope you get it back in the same condition you let it out in. Normally, this isn't too big an issue as problems are generally few and far between. Sometimes, sure, it can seem like everything goes wrong in the house at once, but for the most part it's a pretty decent gig. This isn't true, however, when the complaints from your tenant start pouring in. Many times, you will likely not hear from your renter much at all. You will get the rent check, maybe a couple of holiday well wishes, and that will generally be the end of it. However, when you have to deal with an issue that your tenant has, it can quickly become hectic. This is when you may want to feel like pulling your hair out. Things like plumbing issues are especially common and can certainly strain your relationship with your renter. The main thing you need to do when you receive a complaint is answer it. Nothing is more infuriating for a tenant than sending off an important message about something that has gone wrong and getting nothing back for days on end. This is especially true if it is regarding pipes or electricity. While many tenants may take it upon themselves to call a plumber for something like a clogged drain that they can't fix, if the problem requires the opening of the wall, they need your response. Timely reaction is the most important thing when it comes to a renter's complaint. The other truly important thing to do when a tenant has a complaint is to listen. This may seem silly and obvious, but even if their complaint seems trivial, listening to it can do a world of good. Sometimes the tenant is worried and other times they simply like to complain. Whatever the reason, listening is the best thing you can do. Here at Talley, we hope that you don't have to deal with many complaints. We also know that you can handle them with grace and solve them quickly. We certainly wish you the best with every issue that may arise.
In a previous article, we mentioned to you that sometimes the reason you can't seem to get residents may be due to what amenities you do or don't have. We also promised that we would talk about some of these amenities that people really look for in a new apartment. Do remember, like we said before, be careful about some amenities and trying to implement them depending on where you live. The main amenity that people look when they are moving to a new apartment is laundry services. It is always best case scenario if you can have a washer and a dryer in the building. This is especially true if the laundry is free, however some complexes do prefer to use coin operated laundry. Again, check around to see what other rental properties in the area are doing. Lugging laundry around, especially when it's wet, can be not only annoying, but dangerous depending on the age and physical situation of your residents. Even if you don't have the ability to put a washer and dryer in the building, if you own a complex it would be beneficial for you to have one somewhere that is accessible to all. If it is a community laundry room, just do be sure to include enough washers and dryers to service the amount of people who reside in the building. A dishwasher is quickly becoming an amenity that many renters are deeming a necessity. While it may not be a big deal if you are only renting to one or two people per apartment, larger families can certainly benefit from one of these appliances. If you are renting a full house, certainly look into the possibility of adding a dishwasher to the kitchen, even if it is only a portable one. Although it may seem silly, people are requesting more and more to have a dishwasher. After all, who are we to argue when we want to rent our place out? These are only a couple of the amenities that are important in regards to being able to rent out your apartment. There are many, many more and if you're wondering what they are, don't worry! We will be back soon with a few more that you may want to think about if you are trying to get a resident.
Due to popular demand, we have written another article about how to get the attention of prospective tenants for cheap or even free. In previous articles, we explained how incredibly useful the internet can be in regards to getting the word out to people that you have an apartment to rent. While we still believe that this is one of the best tools at your disposal, we also understand that not everyone is as comfortable with posting their listing online. Here are some ideas to get the attention of people cheaply and without using the internet. One of the best ways to let people know about your local apartment is by posting about it in local shops. While obviously we don't want you to go around sticking up fliers randomly, there is nothing wrong with asking local businesses if they don't mind having your advertisement somewhere that is visible. You may even want to think about ordering some cheap business cards with the address, your phone number, and a small picture of the building and asking if it would be okay to leave them there. You may offer to give your tenants something regarding that business. It may be a menu if it is a restaurant, or a gift card if the locations gives those out. Always be willing to work with the business owner. After all, they are giving you space in their area of income. Another way that has been tried and true in regards to getting results is putting up signs. This can be something as simple as sticking a piece of paper to a telephone pole or a street light. If you print out the information for your available apartment and tape it up in different places around town, you are certain to get results. This is something that has been done for decades and hey, why mess with a winning system? Just one word of advice: remember to take down the advertisement once you have found a tenant so you don't keep getting those phone calls. There are dozens of ways that you can get a tenant for little or no money. This is true whether you use the internet or not. After all, we survived before it existed so there's no reason you can't get a tenant without it.