Becoming a landlord and acquiring your rental property is a great way to build a passive stream of income that can help you to generate consistent revenue without applying much effort into its management.

To ensure your investment is protected however, it’s a recommended idea to begin managing your property through the introduction and implementation of property management systems. To help make these easier to navigate, a property management checklist can be a vital assistance tool to help save you time and money throughout your journey as a rental property landlord.

So, whether you’re looking to find a property management company to assist you, or wanting property management tips to do the job independently, we’ve compiled a 5 point property management checklist to help keep your block, or property, on track.

1.   Finding New Tenants

You cannot manage or even rent a property without tenants, so this is the first and most important step.

Ensure you’ve set rental rates that are:

  • In accordance with prices in the local neighborhood
  • Similar in size to your property
  • Appropriate for new or old construction
  • Comparable against competitive online prices
  • In accordance with realtors opinions

If your proposed rate checks those initial boxes, also ensure your rental rate is set according to:

  • The view: A garden view is more desirable than a view of a carpark or amenity service.
  • Furnishings: Properties with new or updated appliances, hardwood floors or other amenities like extra closets, windows or a balcony all tend to be more desirable, and therefore more costly, than those without.
  • Square Footage: Depending on the rooms, 1,000 square foot bedrooms for example are more desirable than 500 square foot bedrooms.
  • Layout: Confusing apartment layouts such as railroad layouts can be less desirable than others, unless the tenant is a particular fan of such styles.
  • Floor Levels: While it’s more desirable to be higher up, if the property is a walk up, after the third floor prices must decrease due to tenant reservations around convenience and safety.

If this is all ticked, you’re ready to move in tenants! With most property searching being undertaken online, use the next section as a guide to locating tenants in 2020:

  • Take high-quality photos: Use a good quality camera when taking photos. Make the property look its best and with the uptake in virtual tours post-pandemic, allow for this by taking clear photos or high quality videos of the rooms and facilities.
  • Use value proposition: Highlight benefits of your property to give tenants good reasons to choose your property. Mention nearby leisure facilities or appealing areas of interest. Keep it short, but informative.
  • Utilise Social Media: In 2020, everything is shared on social media and the best part is: It’s free. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn, but make sure to use the best quality photos and videos in your posts to entice views.
  • Monitor Online Efforts: If your online marketing efforts do not result in leads or renters, you may need to adjust or employ marketing strategies by working with a marketing agency who would know the best marketing channels for small businesses.

5 Point Property Management Checklist

2.   Screening New Tenants

Congratulations! You’ve found tenants, but now how do you know they’re the right ones?

As a preliminary step, undertake a pre-screening:

  • Speak to the tenant on the phone, via video call, or meet them. Like with any relationship, it’s important to establish whether you can get along.
  • Ask after their current occupancy.
  • Ask about their employment status (For example, do they work night shifts? Could this be disruptive to other tenants or new neighbors?)
  • Enquire as to their hobbies and interests (If your property is in a quiet neighborhood, a motorcycle enthusiast may not be the right fit)
  • Enquire whether they have pets (Pets should always be risk-checked first for insurance purposes)
  • Check whether they do or don’t smoke (Smoking may be prohibited on your property, which may make the tenant the incorrect fit)

If the pre-screening goes well and you think your tenant is a fit, move onto these next steps:

  • Publish a rental application: Information required includes details on employment, as well as financial, and personal information. Ask for the previous landlord’s contact information. Stipulate that by signing your application they agree to background checks, such as criminal history and credit, being undertaken.
  • Undertake a Credit check: Look at a tenants credit history and any current debt.
  • Undertake a Background check: Look at records detailing any criminal record, eviction notices and any other public record information. Both checks protect you in the event of potentially troublesome information being revealed.
  • Contact previous landlords: Ask questions that are not invasive to the tenants privacy, but do enquire about any late payments, or potential issues the landlord encountered.
  • Contact any employers: This is a routine check to ensure whether or not the tenant is employed if they claim to be.

If you have a lot of ticked boxes, it’s time to orientate your new tenant!

3.   Tenant orientation.

A vital stage for both landlord and renters, the orientation stage allows the chance for topics such as rules, payment schedule, and any necessary details about the property to be addressed and discussed. Before you begin, keep a photo or video record of any existing damages for your own file.

Ensure you bring these documents to be signed:

  • The Lease
  • A Utility Transfer Agreement
  • A Move Out Policy document
  • A regional tax form for filing
  • A pet agreement (if necessary)
  • A copy of their Driver’s License or other form of identification, passport, etc.

Plus keep double copies of all the documents signed, both on paper and electronically filed.

The security deposit and first month’s rent must then be paid. Once this is done, hand over the keys. You’ve got your first tenant!

4.   Managing Your Tenant

A landlord and tenant relationship is a two-way street. If you take care of your tenants by being approachable, friendly, proactive and transparent, they will make sure to take care of your property so keep these next points handy and refer to them often:

  • Keep maintaining and improving your property: Where necessary, be proactive regarding any landscaping, bathrooms, kitchens, interiors, exteriors, or driveways. If caught early enough, repairs will be less costly down the road. Plus, a well-maintained property could fetch a higher rental rate in the future, and not leave you so much work to do in between tenants.
  • Stay ahead of any changing legislation in regards to the COVID-19 crisis. This could include sanctions on visitors, or hygiene requirements or inspections that must be undertaken.
  • Make rules and expectations clear: Whether rent collection, or warnings for violations or evictions, communicate expectations clearly during the orientation and reiterate them when necessary, especially if you feel an action has recently been toeing the line. This minimizes future frictions and displays consequences.
  • Document and organize files: Either in paper or electronic form, document all exchanges with renters. These make it easy for you to reference if necessary in the future and protect you in the event of a difficult situation.

If your tenant’s journey has come to an end with you, move onto the final step!

5.   The Move Out Process

A move-out system should have been documented in your Move Out Policy. This ensures both you and your tenant know what to expect from the process of choosing not to renew, and you can begin the process so that the time your property is left empty is as short as possible.

Make sure to do the following:

  • Issue a Cleaning Checklist. Giving your tenant a cleaning checklist gives them pointers regarding your expectations of the overall cleanliness and look of the property, before you start your inspection. Include any hygiene legislation, as well as things such as floor cleaning and fridge cleaning, so that your tenant is aware of their responsibilities.
  • Revisit your original file of existing damages. This list gives you a point of comparison prior to the tenant moving in, so that you are aware whether a discretion is new, or existing.
  • Perform your inspection. Walk through your property slowly and carefully. Make sure to note down any damage you notice, especially if it is separate from standard property wear-and-tear. Deduct damage that was not present prior to moving in from the security deposit. Ensure to document all of this in the Moving Out Policy.
  • Acquire tenants forwarding address and number. You will need to send the security deposit once your tenant has moved out.
  • Following your inspection, create a new list of repairs that need to be done.

That’s it! You’re back at the start. Make sure to print multiple copies of this checklist so that you can keep it to hand whenever you are about to start a new journey and welcome brand new tenants into your rental property.

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