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February 27, 2024
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Property

How to Prepare a Rental Property for a New Tenant


When tenants move out of a rental property, it presents landlords with the perfect opportunity to undertake repairs, deep cleaning, redecoration, and any refurbishments required to make sure the property is in tip-top shape before new tenants move in. Preparing a rental for new occupants requires systematic planning and various checks, but the effort pays dividends by attracting good long-term tenants more likely to properly maintain the property. Follow this comprehensive guide when preparing your rental to improve new tenant appeal and satisfaction.

Make Sure the Property is Empty

Before diving into preparations, check the property thoroughly to ensure previous occupants have fully vacated, removed all personal belongings, and surrendered all keys/fobs. It may seem obvious, but landlords have found forgotten possessions and unintentionally provided access to ex-tenants by overlooking this important first step.

It’s also wise to change the locks even if all keys appear accounted for. The extra security provides peace of mind for new occupants and landlords. Check for any potential hiding spots for spare keys just in case too. It sounds extreme but better safe than sorry down the line.

Abandoned Pets and Furniture

Irresponsible tenants may abandon furnishings, belongings, or even pets. Check everywhere including lofts, sheds, gardens, etc. Document any items left behind with photos and inform previous tenants they must collect possessions by a specific deadline or items become the landlord’s property to discard or donate to charity.

Hopefully, no abandoned pets suffer, but this unacceptable possibility has happened. So, carefully inspect for any animals neglected without food or water. If pets remain on the premises, contact animal protection charities immediately so they can properly care for them until the previous tenants retrieve them, such as the ISPCA.

Tackle Repairs and Upgrades

With the property emptied of former occupants’ possessions, landlords can focus fully on inspections, repairs and any planned/necessary upgrades or improvements. Hopefully, previous tenants will have highlighted any issues with the property, so you are not surprised by massive repairs, but don’t assume this is the case. Things like black mould infestations may have been hiddenduring property inspections or minimised, so the true nature of the problem isn’t apparent until the property has been emptied of all furniture.

Inspect everywhere—all rooms, appliances, fixtures, walls, carpets and flooring, gardens—to create an entire to-do list of repairs, maintenance, deep cleaning requirements and desired upgrades. Make a list of the tasks that need addressing, starting with the most urgent repairs and ending with the ‘would like to do’ repairs or upgrades.

Always tackle the most serious repairs as a matter of urgency. Landlord legislation has got a lot stricter in recent years, with the emphasis on protecting tenants from low-quality housing. If a landlord doesn’t maintain a property, they could be fined or even imprisoned.

Other Areas Where Repairs Might be Needed

Pay special attention to safety issues anywhere like loose carpets, damaged floorboards, cracked tiles, faulty electrics/plumbing, rotten decking, etc. Document any maintenance the previous tenants should have alerted you to like damp, mould, leaky roofs, etc. Photograph all damages for records and to recoup any refundable deposits if tenants caused any wear-and-tear or breakages beyond normal use.

Always Work with Reputable Trades When Carrying Out Repairs

Preparing rental properties fully relies on skilled tradespeople accomplishing crucial repair, maintenance and renovation tasks. Finding trusted professionals ensures work completes properly the first time around, which is critical when readying homes for incoming tenants. So, landlords should source reliable tradespeople in these key specialities.

Electricians – Certified to correctly and safely handle all electrical issues to keep updating wiring, fuse boxes, lighting, appliances to modern safety codes  

Plumbers – Licenced Gas Safe engineers and heating specialists fixing leaks, replacing boilers, updating pipes and plumbing to optimise hot water provision

Handymen – Affordably tackle minor repairs like appliance troubleshooting, basic carpentry, small plastering jobs, flooring, interior painting

Builders – For structural renovation work like room additions, roof repairs, replacing bathrooms/kitchens  

Gardeners – Maintain exterior green spaces by mowing, pruning, clearing debris through all seasons

Vet tradespeople thoroughly – check qualifications, licensing, insurances, reviews. Ideally, use referrals from landlords familiar with specialists completing quality work timely and at fair prices. Establish relationships with preferred tradespeople to rely on tackling involved rental renovation projects. They essentially safeguard your property investments by ensuring vacant rentals are adequately prepare for new occupants after previous tenants vacate.

Consider Improving the Kitchen and Bathroom

Kitchens and bathrooms bear heavy use. Tenants particularly notice outdated, damaged or poorly functioning amenities in these extremely frequented rooms. Focus repair efforts here and consider modest upgrades or small facelifts like:

Kitchen

Install more storage cupboards/drawers if space allows

Upgrade old appliances if needed

Replace cracked wall or floor tiles

Add fresh grout and re-seal surfaces

Fit more modern lighting fixtures

Bathrooms

Replace leaky taps and showerheads

Update to water-saving toilet cistern

Re-caulk bath/shower with mould-resistant silicone  

Regrout and reseal tiles

Ensure good ventilation to minimise condensation

Even small-scale projects improving the aesthetics and function of kitchens and bathrooms boost rental appeal and often allow landlords to charge higher rents.

Are Kitchen and Bathroom Upgrades Worth the Money?

If smaller improvements are not going to cut it, consider replacing the entire installation with a new one.

Upgrading kitchens and bathrooms offers rental properties key benefits. Modernised cooking and washing facilities directly address what tenants use constantly daily. Installing contemporary, water-conserving fixtures also appeals to eco-conscious renters. Bathroom and kitchen facelifts need not break budgets. Strategic small-scale improvements like trendy taps, sleek cabinets, or durable floors create stylish spaces. Investing in these important rooms future-proofs against repairs. And crucially, better functioning, sensibly updated kitchens and bathrooms allow landlords to increase rents and stand out amidst competition. So,focused remodels here offer landlords reliable returns through improved rental demand and tenant retention.

Give the Property a Deep Clean

Once repairs and renovations are complete, landlords must thoroughly deep clean rental properties before a new occupant moves in. Clean every inch of all rooms—including empty cupboards, behind appliances, inside oven, behind radiators, walls, windows, etc. Ensure all rooms are decluttered and completely empty of any items not part of furnished rentals.

Deep cleaning checklist:

Kitchen and appliances – scrub inside oven, fridge, cupboards, sink drain, walls, floors, windowsills. Clean behind and underneath appliances, clear out crumbs and spills from drawers and cabinets, wipe down all surfaces, handles and knobs.  

Bathrooms – descale tile grout with a specialty cleaner, use mould removing solutions, disinfect and scrub all porcelain, tiles, sinks, showers, tubs and wipe all surfaces. Clean mirrors, taps, shower heads and other metals until shining.  

Carpets and rugs – hire a professional carpet cleaning Dublin service or replace if stains or wear exceed what deep carpet cleaning can restore. Or consider replacing dated carpets altogether to boost rental appeal.

Hard floors – sweep then thoroughly mop all sealed hard flooring, allow to dry fully. Re-seal grout lines and re-polish floors where needed to restore to like-new.

Walls and ceilings – wash off all marks, fingerprints, grime and residual sticky spots with sugar soap and hot water rinses. Repaint any areas still showing staining for flawless fresh wall surfaces throughout.  

Woodwork – polish and restore any minor damage to wooden banisters, cabinets, doors, baseboard trim, etc. Use wood cleaner, then stain touch-ups followed by nourishing polish to renew and protect surfaces.

Windows – clean inside and out, including glass, frames and windowsills until streak-free and shining. Carefully clean each individual windowpane, interior sills and tracks housing for sliding windows.

Heaters/radiators – remove all dust, grime and debris for optimal performance, brush and vacuum fins, polish metal exterior housing of each unit. Ensure all are securely re-affixed to walls too.  

Outdoors – hire pressure washers to renew pavement and walks, sweep up all fallen leaves/debris across the entire property, driveway and walkways. Clear gutters and downspouts so rainwater runoff moves freely.

Work on the Exterior and Garden

Kerb appeal matters, so ensure the entire exterior looks neat, tidy and welcoming by:

Repainting peeling window frames and doors if you don’t have UPVC windows

Washing down exterior walls to brighten the façade  

Front entrance cleanliness like a swept path, weeding, litter pickup

Ensure doorbells/knockers are cleaned and function properly

Likewise, refresh gardens by:

Pruning overgrown plants, bushes and tree branches

Mowing lawns and trimming neat edges

Weeding flower beds and clearing debris

Sweeping patios, repairing fences, refreshing deck stain

Checking proper drainage and absence of pests  

Painting and Decorating

Neutral colour palettes using off-white or light grey paint colours keep rental décor flexible and modern. Stick to this template for a clean backdrop incoming tenants can accessorise to their style. Or simply refresh existing colour schemes if they remain attractive and unlikely to alienate prospective tenants.

Use this painting checklist to ensure all painted surfaces like walls/ceilings, doors, cabinets, trims, etc. shine in their best light:

Fill any holes or cracks with caulk/spackle

Sand glossy areas to rough up the surface  

Wipe and clean all walls and trim work

Apply primer paint if changing colours

Carefully cut-in edges with a brush

Roll on two coats allowing proper drying time

Upgrade or Replace White Goods and Furniture Where Applicable

Part of optimising furnished or part-furnished rentals for new tenants includes evaluating the condition of existing white goods/appliances and furnishings to determine if upgrades or replacements are prudent to modernise the property. In student lets, for example, it is prudent to replace the mattresses every 2-3 years due to wear and tear, and replace the mattress protector every year.

Consider the age, functionality and energy efficiency of appliances like fridges, freezers, stoves and ovens, washing machines and tumble dryers. Repair or replace any units over 10 years old or no longer functioning optimally. Make sure you have an appliance repair and replacement cover in place, to make things easier when an appliance breaks down.

Additionally, upgrade fixtures like lighting, taps, showerheads and toilets to more eco-friendly models that appeal to sustainability-focused tenants. Evaluate the quality of any existing furniture to decide if refreshed furnishings could command higher rents. Especially focus on improving beds and other upholstered pieces that face daily use. Install blackout window treatments to add value. Approach upgrades with an eye toward responsible returns balancing rental property renewal with your budget.

Last-Minute Tasks

If you manage your own properties and you want to welcome your new tenant, consider buying them some flowers or a bottle of wine, so you get your relationship on the right footing.

Be Mindful of Landlord Legislation

Throughout the process of preparing a property for a tenant, it is essential that you pay close attention to your responsibilities under the law.

Ireland has introduced various pieces of legislation in recent years to regulate the rental sector and provide greater security and rights for tenants.

Key laws include the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and the Residential Tenancies Act (Amendment) 2019, which outline the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in the private rented sector regarding issues like termination of tenancies, rent increases, and dispute resolution.

The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 sets minimum physical standards that rental properties must meet in areas like structural condition, heating, ventilation, lighting, and fire safety. The regulations give local authorities the power to inspect and enforce these standards. This aims to improve the generally poor condition of parts of Ireland’s rental stock.

Other relevant legislation includes the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which requires landlords to register tenancies, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015, which restricted when landlords can terminate tenancies and increased notice periods, and the Residential Tenancies (No.2) Act 2021.

Most recently, efforts have focused on controlling rising rents, with a new rent pressure zone system that caps rent increases in certain areas.

Following this start-to-finish guide setting your rental property in order should result in happy incoming tenants and a mutually beneficial landlord-tenant relationship built on transparency and good communication. Maintaining rental properties properly demonstrates responsible property management tenants seek when choosing their home. So, the effort invested into renewing rentals between occupants directly leads to finding and retaining ideal long-term tenants every landlord desires.

 



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