At the end of a long day, after looking at perhaps dozens of properties, potential tenants only remember two properties. One is the dirtiest and the other is the cleanest. Everything else will fall somewhere in between and be lost in the haze. The moral of the story is obvious. Keep it clean! But what is the best way to do that with limited budgets and resources?
Start With Your Current Tenants
Being clean is not that hard, it just takes a bit of effort and focus.
It starts with the effort you make with your current tenants. A well maintained property will stand out. Plus it is often a lot easier to keep something clean that to make it clean. So you have to repair things as needed. You also need to conduct regular inspections to make sure trash is not piling up and the walls have not been painted purple. Staying on top of these issues will make being the cleanest much, much easier.
Get Your Tenant To Help
You also have to get your tenant to help you keep clean when they tell you they are moving out. You do this by sending them a list of things they need to do before they move out. A list that notes all of the things that must happen for the tenant to get their security deposit back. This list includes:
- Taking every fork, spoon, and Taco Bell sauce packet with them.
- Taking every wire hanger with them.
- Removing every piece of furniture, no matter how small.
- Replacing every burned out light bulb.
- Leaving the property wiped down and broom swept clean.
All of the above and more, if not followed, will result in a deduction from a tenant’s security deposit. This is clearly states as our goal is to repossess our property in much the same way we rented it out, minus normal wear and tear. And by staying on top of repairs, inspections and the move out process, we go a long way towards that goal.
What About Normal Wear And Tear? What To Focus On
No matter how perfect your tenant was, normal wear and tear happens. Things will look worn and need updating. But with limited funds we often cannot fix everything. So where should you focus your efforts?
- The Bathroom – Nothing is going to turn a potential tenant off more than a dirty bathroom. If you absolutely need to rehab or upgrade someplace, do it here. New tile, caulk, grout and paint will yield your biggest returns. And for the love of all that is good do not leave a toilet brush or plunger in the corner! No one wants somebody else’s “stuff” in their bathroom.
- The Kitchen – After the bathroom, this room will give you’re the biggest bang for your rehab buck. Get rid of the grease. Wipe down the insides of the cabinets and drawers. Make sure the stove and fridge are clean. Spilled spices, grease spots and old ketchup packets make a place look dirty. Be sure to look everywhere and get everything.
- Knobs and Handles – Make sure all of your knobs and handles are tight and in working order. Why? Because once your tenant moves out, there will not be anything else to see, touch or play with when you are showing the property. Your potential tenants are therefore going to touch every door knob, drawer and cabinet. Loose knobs and handles will subliminally impart a junky message so take some time to tighten things up.
- The Smell – Smells can create powerful and emotional responses in people. Bad smells will of course elicit a bad response. Make sure your place smells great. A few plug in air fresheners, but not too many, go a long way. Light lavender is perhaps the best. Also be sure to run all faucets every so often as stagnant water in drains leads to foul orders.
- Anything Else Obvious – Hopefully your tenants left your property in great condition. But magic erasers and other tricks can only do so much. It may also just be time for a fresh look. Use cool neutral colors everywhere. Grays are in right now, but I like softer, yellow-whites as they seem to appeal to more people and stand the test of time.
If you want to get the best tenants and get them paying top dollar you are going to have to create a lasting first impression in their mind. As I said, they are going to remember the dirtiest and the cleanest. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, make sure it is the right one.