May 23, 2018

Get ready: peak moving season is here. If you own a rental property, your life is about to get pretty busy for the next few months.

With roughly thirty-five million Americans relocating each year, peak moving time can be hectic. Going into summer is such a busy time that the American Moving & Storage Association has dubbed May “National Moving Month.” But there’s no need to panic. Once your tenants have signed a lease, you’ve already done the hard part. Now all you need to do is get them happily set up in their new place.

Whether you manage one rental property or dozens, this five-step checklist will help you build an excellent relationship with your renters and save you time, money, and stress in your onboarding process.

1. Prep the Property

The moment your tenants walk into their new home is a pivotal one. Whether they have a positive or a negative first impression sets the tone for your interactions going forward. Start on the right foot by making sure the property is in tip-top shape:

  • Verify that your property has no health or safety issues, updating required inspections as needed.
  • Check that all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning.
  • Confirm that the plumbing, electricity, heating, and air-conditioning work properly.
  • Repair any damages or wear and tear from previous tenants; repaint if necessary.
  • Change all locks, and get new sets of keys made.
  • Clean the property thoroughly (especially high-traffic areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and floors).

2. Schedule a Walk-Through

Before your tenants move in, all parties need to sign off on the current condition of the property. Create an itemized move-in inspection sheet (that you’ll use again when they move out), and go room by room with them through the property. This list gives them a chance to note any preexisting damages so they aren’t held financially responsible for them later.

Be friendly and helpful, answering questions and getting to know your tenants better. Let them take their time; after all, it’s their security deposit at stake. When you’ve finished with the walk-through, you and your tenants must sign and date the checklist. Give them a copy, and keep one for your records.

3. Provide Moving Resources

Remember that moving is stressful for your renters too. Try to ease their minds by supplying as much information as possible as soon as they sign their lease along with a packet of helpful moving resources:

4. Create a Welcome Basket

Leave a simple gift to greet your renters on move-in day. This thoughtful gesture won’t require much time or money on your part, but it makes a big difference in fostering a good landlord/tenant relationship and can encourage your tenants to continue renting your property in the future.

Fill a basket (or something even more practical, like a new cleaning bucket or garbage can) with thoughtful and useful items:

  • A handwritten welcome note
  • A local map or guidebook
  • Recommendations of your favorite places in the neighborhood for dining, shopping, or entertainment
  • Takeout menus
  • A gift card for a nearby restaurant or coffee shop
  • Dish soap, sponges, paper towels, and toilet paper
  • Healthy snacks and bottled water
  • Toys (if they have pets or kids)

5. Check-In

Good communication is always important with your tenants, but it’s especially critical in the first weeks and months of a new lease. Confirm that they have your contact info, and let them know that they should get in touch with you with any questions or concerns.

Give them a bit of time to settle into their new place before you check in again. After a few weeks, send a quick email or text to show that you are attentive and professional—and that you care about both your property and your renters.

A little preparation goes a long way during moving season. Follow these easy steps, and you’ll eliminate onboarding headaches and build goodwill with your new tenants.

Author Bio: Emily Long is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She writes about tech, home automation, and safety. When she’s not living out of a suitcase, you can find her practicing yoga, running Utah’s best trails, or attempting to perfect her coffee brewing skills.

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