The DIY Landlord’s Guide to Rent Readiness on the Cheap


The DIY Landlord’s Guide to Rent Readiness on the Cheap

Save money on your rental by dealing with condensation.

 Damp patches on exterior wall of a house.

The question that every landlord ultimately runs up against is “how can I make this property Rent Ready without opening up a line of credit to do it?” In the very long run, the most important thing you can do toward reducing your rent readiness costs is screen the heck out of your tenants, as a bad tenant will cost you dozens of times more money at turnover time than a good one.

Here’s a few other long-term tips, then we’ll get to the short-term, ‘but what can I do now?’ stuff.

• Document everything you buy when you get the house rent-ready for the first time, so you can easily match or replace it in the future. If you buy crown molding, write down the manufacturer and the part number. Ditto for every doorknob, faucet, floor tile, etc. etc. Knowing how to replace a missing or broken X with a matching version will save you endless heartache in the long run. We take pics of a lot of this stuff, so we have it.

• Buy the supplies you know you’re going to need at every turnover — blinds, paint, wall-repair materials, and all the various cleansers you need to achieve True Clean — in bulk. If you’re landlording multiple properties, buy the same stuff for every property as much as possible.

• Similarly, if there’s something you need a contractor for, do your research well the first time, and then stick with that contractor (unless they turn out to be shady or incompetent). Being a loyal client means a lot to a contractor, and coming back to them every year or two for the same property will get them familiar with it and able to handle it (and you) more effectively.

• Don’t be afraid to write a ‘User’s Manual’ for your rental that includes all of the basic maintenance that you expect your tenant to take care of, along with any details they should know in order to get it done. The more firmly you establish expectations (and enable your tenants to stick to those expectations), the less you’ll have to do come turnover time.

• Make sure that you perform basic appliance maintenance at every turnover. Putting in the effort to get the dishwasher and garbage disposal fully cleaned out, the air and water filters cleaned, and all those other minor details will keep your long-term expenses down enormously, even if the effects are harder to notice.

OK, time for the short-term, this-very-turnover kind of money-saving rent ready tips:

• Buy smart. Refurbished appliances and salvaged furniture are nearly as good as new and much cheaper. Bags of beauty bark that are marked down because they’re torn can be patched up with $.03 worth of duct tape and can save you a hundred times that much. Renters understand that you’re not going to invest in top-of-the-line anything (unless you’re charging thousands in rent), and if it’s something they usually wouldn’t notice in the first place, save the money.

• At the same time, pay your contractors enough to make sure you get the job done right the first time. We’ve seen so many of our owners choose the contractor with the $500 bid over the one with the $800 bid turn around and have to pay for a second $500 job because the first time around was messed up by an overload of cut corners, novice or hack-job labor, and materials that were used for jobs beyond their pay grade.

• Finally, remember that everything you do yourself is something you don’t have to pay anyone else for. Most commonplace household tasks, from replacing a toilet tank to wiring a light switch, can be learned in an afternoon or less with some help from YouTube. Invest in expanding your own skillset and knowledge base, and you’ll save money right now and in the long run. Another benefit of this – understanding what contractors are charging you for, so you can more easily know if they are trying to gouge you.

So, you’ve gotten your rental property rent-ready, and you’ve saved a little cash doing it. What’s next? Why, finding someone to move in, of course! Check back next week for a crash course in marketing for the DIY Landlord.

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