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Get ready before the rental season picks up

Before or during the peak rental season, you may want to consider reviewing your business practices. You may be able to find new ways to save (or make) money, or see a new way to do something that you learned through your hands-on experience. The following checklist includes the parts of a rental business an owner may want to update on a regular basis:

  • The application process.
  • Update the property and listing or advertisement.
  • Review all Lease Agreements.
  • Update new Lease Agreements.
  • Update the move-out and move-in process.

Improve the rental application process

Collecting and looking through applications may be time-consuming, but it is an essential part of the process for a landlord. If you do not want to make an application form from scratch, you can use a premade Rental Application form. You can customize this form for your location, and the details of your property, then send it online or via email to your potential tenants. When you make the application process easier for applicants, you are likely to get more applicants.

Physically handing out applications is a lot of work and leaves a lot of room for error. By using an application that prospective renters can download and send back to you via email, you can cut down on the amount of paper in your office, and the time it takes to get through applications.

Electronic signatures also make signing leases a lot easier. After approving an application, you can have tenants use RocketSign to get your Lease Agreement signed quickly and legally.

Update rental listings

As you prepare for your peak rental season, you can also think about ways to update your rental listing. It is easy to use the same listing from year to year. But updating it once a year will give potential tenants a new, fresh look at any updates. You can also showcase any newly available or remodeled units.

If you use the same photos or description every year, some people might assume you are still trying to rent the same unit from last year. In the end, that can make your location look bad because tenants might think renters leave often or you cannot get new renters in the door.

How do I update my rental listing?

One of the best ways to update your rental listing is to describe any improvements or upgrades to the property. You could also provide updated details about any new features or nearby attractions. Don't forget to update your website, social media, and any other site online where you have a listing to ensure that every source has the same data.

How do I make sure the right people can see my rental property?

Go to where your target renter is to get your listing in front of the right people. For some, that might mean making sure your website is up to date. Others might use a real estate agent or property management company to help with advertising. Some landlords rely on word of mouth, tenant referrals, or even simple ads hung up at the local laundromat — anywhere potential renters in your area might be.

What do renters want to see included in my rental listing?

It is helpful to include basic details about the rental, such as its location and size. Pictures, square footage data, parking options, amenities nearby or on your property, and your pet policy are all good to include.

If any "extras" affect the rental price or are included in it, you should note that as well. These are some examples:

  • Utilities.
  • Pet fees.
  • Insurance fees.
  • Parking fees.
  • Laundry fees.

If you explain most of the terms up front, you are more likely to get qualified renters who want to rent from you.

Update all your agreements

It is a good idea to review all of your contracts, Lease Agreements, and Service Agreements once a year. Taking a look at each contract can help you decide whether anything needs to be changed or updated.

Remember, if there is a legal conflict with your tenants, courts often look at the written agreements first, so it is important to keep them up to date.

Below are just a few items you might want to review as you get ready for the peak rental season:

  • Rental price. You may want to be sure that your rental price from last year is still the price you want to use this year. This is even more important this year, with major increases in the cost of living. Keep in mind that you may need to tell current renters about any rent increase within a certain minimum amount of time depending on state and local law (usually between 30-90 days in a month-to-month Rental Agreement, but not always).
  • Pet policies. If your pet policies have changed or need to be updated, your yearly review is a good time to make those changes.
  • Payment policies. You may want to be sure that the method you use to accept payment is described in your Rental Agreement. If you want to switch to only accepting ACH payments, or allow for credit card payments, for example, you can do that when you revise the agreements.
  • Automatic renewal rules. Many leases have automatic renewal clauses, but they are generally not required. If you want to make sure that you can deny renewal or you want to switch the entire lease to a shorter term, a yearly review of your agreements is a good time to do that as well.
  • New rules or features. Over the past year, you might have noticed that you need specific rules to address certain features or amenities. For example, perhaps you just added a laundry room on your property, or had a new security system installed. If new rules need to be developed, doing so ahead of the peak season can help avoid problems.
  • Emergency contact information and tenant information. When you review your current agreements, it is also a good time to make sure you know everyone who is living in a unit. You might also ask tenants to update their emergency contact information, too. Having this information will be helpful if there is a sudden emergency in the building, such as a burst pipe or gas leak.

In short, it is a good idea to review and update anything that has changed in the past year before your peak rental season starts. If you want to create new policies or adjust policies that are not being used, this is a great time to do just that.

Prepare for your new renter

Once a lease is signed and ready to go, you might want to focus on getting the rental unit ready to change hands. You might consider running through this checklist:

  • Update your paperwork to assign the unit to the new tenant.
  • Make sure the old tenant leaves on time and receives their security deposit.
  • Remove any trash, leftover furniture, or other items that have been left behind.
  • Have the unit cleaned.
  • Touch up or fix any areas that need it.
  • Make sure all safety features and equipment are working properly.
  • Plan a move-in date with your new tenant.

You may want to set a date and time for the new tenant to pick up their keys. At that time, you might also want to schedule a walk-through with the tenant to show them the features of the unit and note any damage prior to move-in. Many landlords like to use a Pre-Rental Inspection Checklist to record the state of the property before the tenant moves into the unit.

If you have more questions about preparing for the peak rental season, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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