Moving is stressful enough. For landlords, the difficulty of a move can be compounded by the learning curve of a new rental market and a new property. Many landlords when moving for the first time get caught by surprising utility bills, unexpected renter habits, and common household issues that can be avoided with a little bit of preparation. Plan your move carefully, and you’ll be able to navigate all the challenges of your new rental environment while avoiding the most common pitfalls.
Organizing Your Move
The moving process doesn’t have to be synonymous with stress or frustration. Getting organized before your move is the best way to avoid last-minute issues. Before you open up your first cardboard box, make a checklist for yourself to cover every aspect of your move.
The Moving Materials Checklist
A good checklist for your moving materials would likely include the following:
- Packing Materials: Gather all of your packing materials in advance, including cardboard boxes, tape, a hand truck, moving dollies, moving blankets, and ratchet straps.
- Moving Truck: Renting a truck or hiring a moving service isn’t something you want to leave to the last minute. Make a reservation well in advance of your moving date.
- Cleaning Supplies: You’ll need some basic cleaning materials for sprucing up your old place and for preparing your new place for new tenants. Mops, dusters, and a vacuum cleaner can handle most jobs.
Be prepared to spend at least a few days packing. If you live in your current rental property, use a labeling system to separate your belongings from the rental’s, and use smaller boxes to limit the weight of things like books. Finally, create an organizational system for each room to make your unpacking process easier so you can have your rental space up and running as quickly as possible.
Learning Your New Market
Your rental property is only as good as the income it generates, and you’ll need to master your new rental market quickly if you want to maximize your profit. Conduct research before you start your moving process to decide on fair rates and see the what demographics to cater your advertising too.
Start with a broad view of your new neighborhood using tools like Google Maps and Walk Score. These online tools can show you what’s nearby your new rental property, including any neighborhood amenities or local universities. Walk Score will also show you the average rental rates in the area, as well as key information like crime rates. Local news websites can help you identify broader trends in the real estate market, which can narrow your selection of new properties.
Next, size up your competitors with rental aggregate sites like Rentometer or Zillow. If you’re willing to spend some time, browsing other rental ads can also give you a sense of your target demographic. If most ads are aimed at students, you’ll know to prepare for a strong university presence in the rental market.
Preparing Your Paperwork
Managing all of the contracts, agreements, and other administrative details of a new property is a major challenge for landlords in a new location. If you can, finalize all your arrangements in advance so the day of your move is as stress-free as possible.
You’ll need to switch over your gas, electricity, water, cable, and internet service when you move. If you’re closing on an old property, schedule your utilities to switch over a few days after your final closing date to avoid any hassles if there’s a delay during closing. If you turn off your heat and electricity on the morning of your closing day, your buyer could cancel the sale during their final walk-through if they can’t confirm that things are working normally.
Next, take some time to research the utilities providers in your new city prior to your move. If you’re planning to include utilities in the rent, check the local rates so you can adjust your rent accordingly. Decide what level of utilities will best match the area’s renter demographics—a fast and reliable internet package can help attract young professionals to your rental property.
Managing your new rental property starts with your lease agreement. Ideally, you should aim to have your new lease ready to go before you pack your first box. Above all, your rental agreement needs to comply with federal, state, and local legislation, and it should protect you from legal action. Consider hiring a legal expert in your new city to cover yourself for liabilities, like weather-related issues or regionally specific tenant complaints.
If possible, try and have at least six months’ expenses in the bank prior to your move so that you’re prepared for any delays in finding a new tenant. This plan is similar to moving without a job; your rental property is your income source, and it pays to be prepared for any eventuality.
Preparing Your New Rental Property
Once you’ve moved, you’ll want to get your new property ready right away so you can start generating income. A move is the perfect time to complete minor renovations since you won’t need to move furniture or interrupt a current tenant. Be prepared to complete a few home improvement projects as soon as you move in, like installing lighting fixtures or repainting a few rooms.
If possible, make sure you’re present during the home inspection for your new property prior to final sale. A home inspection is your chance to pinpoint any potential issues before your new tenants move in. A previous owner might be selling their property to avoid a costly repair, and you could be saddled with the expense if you’re not prepared for it.
Being a landlord can be challenging and time consuming at times, but learning ahead of time about a new area and property can simplify your workload. Time spent preparing directly correlates to the effort and expense you’ll run into down the road. With these simple steps, you can streamline your transition and prevent a financial disaster or a few headaches along the way.
Author Bio: Darina Murashev is a freelance writer from Chicago based in Salt Lake City. She writes about home maintenance, relocation, and big lifestyle changes. She enjoys travel, live music, and spending time in the great outdoors."
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