You’ve done it. You’ve finally closed on that rental property, and you’re excited to start building your portfolio and finding the right, hopefully long-term tenants.
But not so fast. You’ve got a lot of work to do before your tenants move in. Even in recently built properties, you still need to get your property in the best condition possible — and that’s not all.
Here’s your complete checklist for what to do after you’ve closed on your new rental property in Washington, DC.
Inspect the property thoroughly
You likely did an inspection and walkthrough when you first bought your rental property in Washington, DC, but just because you did it once doesn’t mean you should skip it. You need to be proactive in documenting the condition of every room, appliance, door and window to get it ready for tenants. Remember, the better care you take care of your rental property, the more tenants will want to follow your example.
Walk through your new property and take copious notes, photos and videos. Jot down any repairs that need to be made, any light bulbs that need to be replaced and any painting touch ups to be done before someone moves in. If there’s a crack in the wall or ceiling, make a note of it. Flush all toilets and let the water run in the sinks, showers and bathtubs to ensure that they work.
This will help you keep track of what needs to be done before tenants move in. Once your list is complete, you’ll feel confident in renting out your new property.
Plan ahead for the rental market season
In most cities, summers are usually the busiest times for the rental markets because the weather is reliably warm and dry. But for landlords, your busy season isn’t when people move in and out of homes. It’s when renters start searching for new homes and signing leases, and that can start months before moving day.
As you’re thinking about repairs and renovations, plan them with the rental market season in mind. If you plan to rent to college students, for example, then you should be researching when students start signing leases in your area. In some cities, students sign leases between October and November for the next year. If it’s already August, then you need to get moving on your repairs so that you’ll be ready for showings.
You don’t want to miss your window of opportunity for signing leases. If you’re late, you might need to lower your rent or offer deals, such as half off the first month’s rent or waive the security deposit, in order to secure tenants.
Set up your budget and reserves
Once you know what repairs and fixes need to be done, it’s time to look at your budget and estimate how much you will need in your reserves. A rental property’s reserves can be used for every-day maintenance, such as lawn care, or major repairs, such as a broken pipe.
You need to keep a healthy amount of money in your reserves account. As any landlord will tell you, breaks and repairs often happen unexpectedly. Even if you have the best, most caring tenants in Washington, DC, appliances will age and building materials will weaken. You need to be prepared for roofs to cave and refrigerators to break.
If you need help setting up your reserve account, your property management company should be able to guide you.
Line up repairs and replacements
It’s not enough to write notes. You need to get the work done. While you can probably handle painting and minor repairs yourself, you might need to hire an electrician or purchase new appliances.
Don’t wait long to purchase new appliances or hire professionals to do your repairs. The longer it takes to do repairs, the longer it will be until you can start collecting rent. Once you get your budget squared away, focus on repairs and replacements.
Just like with your personal home, you will need insurance for your rental property. Most landlords need to purchase insurance in order to close on the property, but rental properties can often benefit from additional insurance coverage other than dwelling.
Some landlords sleep better when they have eviction insurance and additional fire, hazard and liability insurance. This will protect you in case you find yourself in a dispute with a tenant or someone is harmed on your property. If you’re lucky, you’ll never have a problem, but it’s always good to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Research property management companies
Some landlords choose to manage their own properties, and they quickly find themselves in over their heads. Pipes can burst, roofs can collapse, and tenants can leave in the middle of the night without a word. Even if you do manage to find the best tenant, you need to be available to them and able to respond quickly to questions or maintenance requests.
All of this management takes a lot of work, and if you have a full-time job and kids, then you may end up feeling overwhelmed. Instead of doing all that work yourself, consider hiring a property management company in Washington, DC to do the heavy lifting.
A boutique property management company like Atlas Lane specializes in providing personalized care for each property we manage. Each property has its own property asset manager who represents the landlord’s eyes and ears on the ground. When something goes wrong, we dispatch our team of HomePros, and they’re available to tenants 24/7. Our managers also market the property, screen tenants and complete move-in and move-out inspections. With Atlas Lane, landlords feel at ease knowing we’re watching out for their property.
But don’t take our word for it. Research property management companies in Washington, DC for yourself.
Ready to find out more about our property management. Get started here and see why we’re one of Washington, DC’s most trusted property management companies.