Do these things, in this order.
- Walk through the property and look for things to fix.
- Check that all of the lights function, check that the faucets work.
- A handyman service can fix all minor to medium items in one or more trips and can do it cheaper than companies in business to fix specific problems. Always make sure the handyman service has their own insurance. Preferably, use a service which employs more than one handyman, like http://www.handymanmatters.com/, instead of using a one man company.
- Change the locks and save the old locks to use for the next time a tenant moves out.
- Schedule a cleaning for the property
- The cleaning is rarely done correctly. Use a trusted company you already have a relationship with or be ready to call multiple companies to get the job done correctly.
- Take a video and/or photos of the interior and exterior of the property to document the condition of everything.
- Prepare a lease and rental application.
- This should be done before the ad because people will ask you about them. See the example lease for ideas.
- Post an ad on craigslist (this is much cheaper than the newspaper and is just as effective when done correctly). See the example attached to this page for guidelines on an effective craigslist ad.
- Meet with prospective tenants at the property on a weekly or bi-weekly basis at designated times. Saturday at 10am and Wednesday at 6:30pm are times that seem to work for most people.
Make sure the rental application includes the prospective tenant agreeing to let you run a background check and credit check.
Charging for the rental application is up to you. I do not charge for the rental application and haven’t had any issues with that. When people ask what it costs or if there’s a cost, I say “There’s no application fee but we do do a background check and a credit check.” Generally this scares away a fair number of people – sometimes they don’t get the idea and will begin to ask you about how important credit or a criminal record is. The only right answer to these questions is that it depends on the other applications that you get.
Are They Interested?
Usually when people see the property you can tell whether they’re interested or not. Here are some things people will say that are good clues.
“I’m Interested” Clues
- “I am very interested.”
- “Do you have an application I can fill out?”
“I’m Not Interested” Clues
- “What’s that smell?”
- “Did a smoker used to live here?”
- “I have four dogs and three cats. Is that okay?”
There are online services which can do background checks and your local police can inform you on how to do one locally.
Background checks (including a credit check) may cost between $25 and $50 dollars. While some companies include local court records in their search, they may only return name matches based on that data. Of course, if the prospective tenant has a common name then this isn’t helpful at all. In any case you can look into it and ask the prospective tenant about it directly to try to get more information.