The DIY Landlord’s Guide to What ‘Rent Ready’ Means

Warm, cozy and safe – might not be all that tenants look for when deciding to rent your property.

A spooky looking shed door with cracks on old paint. .

So you’ve got yourself a single-family residence that no one is living in, and you’ve decided that you want to rent it out to make some side money, and you’ve decided that you’re going to personally manage the property. Welcome to the life of the DIY landlord! Your first task (having purchased the property) is to get the place Rent Ready.

The Legal Elements of Rent Readiness
A home is rent ready when it meets a series of legal standards and a series of practical standards, so that there are no health & safety issues. The legal standards vary from place to place, so you’ll have to check your state laws and municipal rental certification codes. But you can rest assured that, at the minimum, your applicable laws essentially amount to “must provide…

• Shelter from the elements (i.e. no leaky roofs or broken windows),
• Water (and in most places, hot water),
• Heat,
• Sewer,
• Safety (no fair having rusty nails sticking out of the walls, mold patches, or pests), and
• Security (in the form of functional door locks at minimum).”

Details vary by location, but the gist of it is right there. But of course that’s just the legal side — there’s a bunch of other practical elements that aren’t technically necessary. But if you try to rent a house without them, you’re going to be waiting a long time to sign a tenant — and when you do sign one, they’re likely to be horrible to your property.

The Practical Elements of Rent Readiness
Once you have the legal attributes of a Rent Ready property in place, you have to worry about the aspects of the property that will actually attract a renter. Because no matter how warm, secure, and safe your property is, no one will sign a lease for a property that is filled with (for a random example) junk mail and space peanuts. They might be safe and even warm, but they’re also a mess, which means your property isn’t practically rent ready.

So in addition to all the legal stuff above, you also need to make sure your house is:

• Offers Privacy (usually blinds and frosted bathroom windows at the minimum),
• Clean (including not just mess-free, but also smelling like a clean house),
• Complete (for example, all the doorframes should have doors in them),
• Functional (and those doors should close and latch easily), and
• Not ugly.

That last one is a bit subjective, it’s true, but the generally-accepted wisdom is that neutral tones like eggshell, taupe, mushroom, greige, and tan are the least ugly colors and thus make the best ‘defaults’ for a rental home.

Come back next time for the DIY Landlord’s Guide on how to get your house Rent Ready without breaking the bank!

Posted in: 1. Property Owner Blog Posts, Managing Rentals, Rental Marketing

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