In a perfect world, your rental properties would be leased on a continuous basis, and there would be no gaps between tenants. But in reality, every rental property will eventually sit empty for a month or two after no tenants have signed a lease agreement.
How you handle these days or weeks of vacancy could go a long way in determining how successful your properties are in the future.
Spend Your Time Wisely
Vacancies are never welcome, but they can be blessings in disguise. They offer a brief period of time during which you can handle important tasks and put yourself in a position to be more successful in the years to come.
Most landlords fail to utilize this time, though. Instead, they adopt a wait-and-see approach and count the days until a new tenant moves in. Although it’s perfectly natural to wait anxiously in anticipation of the next tenant, you’re committing a grave error in letting this golden opportunity pass by.
Here are five of the top things you can do to take maximum advantage of a temporary vacancy.
- Begin Looking for Your Next Tenant Immediately
You can get lots of things done between now and when your next tenant signs a lease agreement, but the very best is to start looking actively for a new one as soon as possible. If nothing else, you can let people know the property won’t be ready for a few days or weeks.
If you’re in a slow market where it’s difficult to find tenants, cast a wide net and market your property online as well as via social media (in addition to encouraging referrals and putting a sign up in the yard).
- Transfer Utilities Into Your Name
When your tenants leave, they will take their name off the county utilities. It’s crucial for you to call immediately and have them transferred into your name.
Otherwise you’ll most likely be charged a reactivation fee by the county. This can cost you several hundred dollars if you aren’t careful.
In order to make sure you don’t get charged more for utilities than you should, take a reading off the water, gas, and electric meters on the day the tenant leaves the premises. Record the numbers, then take another reading when the new tenant moves in. This will help you to avoid overpaying.
- Give the Property a Deep Clean
Even if your previous tenants were fairly clean, a lot of grime can build up over a period of a few months or years. When nobody’s living on the property and the floors and walls are free of furnishings, you have an excellent opportunity to conduct a deep clean.
A deep clean means wiping down walls, dusting every nook and cranny, getting carpets washed, replacing HVAC filters, cleaning out intake vents, wiping down appliances, sanitizing bathrooms, pressure washing the exterior, and more. Go ahead and pay someone for these services and you may find it was the smartest decision you made all year.
- Inspect Plumbing
Few issues can be more costly on a rental property than a problem with the plumbing. You should make a habit of inspecting the plumbing system between every tenancy.
The inspection should include checking plumbing fixtures, draining pipes, inspecting exterior hoses, looking into toilet tanks, and examining any exposed pipes. Because plumbing can be tricky to deal with, it’s a smart idea to call in professionals and have them take a look if you suspect any major problems.
You may also want to have an electrician and HVAC repair expert come through if it’s been a while since you’ve had these systems inspected. It’s always better to spend money on preventive care than have to throw thousands of dollars at a repair job while you have frustrated tenants calling you at all hours of the day.
- Update the Property
If you haven’t updated your property in several years, chances are a few things are outdated. This could hurt your chance of competing with similar properties in the neighborhood and will definitely come back to bite you should you decide to sell the property in the future.
Pay the most attention to the kitchen. This is the room that renters and buyers immediately gravitate toward, so you want to make sure it’s at least acceptable in the current market.
If you really want to bring your property up and maximize rent, find a decently priced slab of granite and gently used stainless steel appliances which can get you where you need to be.
- Add Value
Now’s a great time to look for ways to add value to your property. For example, can you turn an office or unused bonus room into a bedroom? Is there space to add another bathroom? Can you increase the closet space in the master bedroom?
By adding livable square footage to your property — especially an additional bedroom — you can charge a premium on your rent and tap into an entirely new market of potential renters. Not sure where to start? Consider meeting with a local real estate agent.
An expert like that can tell you what’s popular in the current market and where you’re lacking. He or she will also provide advice on what materials can be used to save money.
Contact Green Residential Today
Trying to manage all your rental properties and still have a personal life and career of your own is nearly impossible (at least while retaining your sanity). Whether during a time of vacancy or heavy activity, you might prefer to have a team of professional property managers on your side.
Green Residential is regarded as one of the top property management firms in the Houston area. We offer a variety of comprehensive services that allow our clients to shift their focus to critical tasks that allow them to maximize time and energy.
If you’re interested in learning more about what it looks like to partner with Green Residential, please feel free to contact us today! We would love to walk you through some of the specifics.