Ø Leave the gas and electricity on
In the Owner’s name, so any work can be completed properly (it's hard to clean properly in a dark house with no hot water). It's also important to be able to show properties with the lights on and the heat or A/C operating.
Ø Hire a gardener
A gardener can shape up the yard as needed and then maintain it until the rent starts with the new tenant.
Ø Update and Re-key the locks
A new law came into effect in 1998 that requires all main swinging doors that go between heated and non-heated areas to have a dead bolt lock. Re-keying should always be done between tenants. This prevents any prior tenants (or their friends) from the possibility of coming back into the property. Re-keying the locks is a critical way to limit an owner from the possibility of being found negligent in a lawsuit.
Ø Clean the carpets
We have made it our policy to clean carpets after every tenant moves out whether they lived there for 6-months or 6-years. Some have argued that carpet cleaning is "normal wear and tear" and thus cannot be charged to the tenant. We have argued successfully in court that carpet cleaning is to remove dirt: thus it is cleaning, not wear and tear. Cleaning is an allowable deduction from security deposits. Our tenants agree to pay for the cost of carpet cleaning when they sign their lease it is rarely an issue.
Ø Clean the house
We use a cleaner's checklist, which includes all the expected cleaning items, plus: clean under stove burners, no crumbs in the cupboards or drawers, clean light fixtures, and clean the windows inside and out.
Painting is not required between every tenant. It does go a long way toward making the house attractive to perspective renters. We are often able to touch-up the paint rather than a full interior paint job. As much as possible, "depersonalize" the house by painting only a neutral color. Make plans to remove wallpaper as much as is economically possible.
Replace any broken or missing windows, screens, doorstops, and/or electrical faceplates (we document that these items are in good working order in the Move-in Condition Report and then hold tenants responsible to replace them when they move out). Be sure smoke detectors all operate. Make sure all appliances are in good working order, plumbing does not have any leaks, and fixtures don't drip.
If the fireplace has been used but not cleaned in the past year, it is good policy to have it cleaned. Fireplace fires are more common than most owners realize.
Ø Window coverings
It is the owner's responsibility to provide privacy for the tenant. Be sure there are drapes or blinds and that they are in good working order.
Ø Pest control
If the last tenants had pets, fog the house for fleas. Even when it seems like there are no fleas, 2 weeks later they get hungry and come out of the woodwork – just in time for the new tenants to move in and be eaten alive! Also, there is no greater turn-off than showing a house that has "bugs" of any kind – be sure there are no infestations.
Hurst Home Realty & Property Management ◊ 3555 Taylor Rd., Suite C & D ◊ Loomis, CA 95650
Office: 916-652-8048 ◊ Fax: 888-794-2474 ◊ CA DRE #01349037