Grizzly bears are starting to wake up from hibernation. Tips of tulips have begun poking out of the soil. You opened the windows at home for the first time this year to let in an invigorating breeze.

Yes, it’s Spring. And as the season for fresh starts, deep cleaning and breathing new life into the world, spring is also a landlord’s opportunity to prepare for the most popular time of year for renters wanting a new place to live.

While placing your investment unit on the rental market may seem as easy as clicking buttons and uploading a couple photos, there are a few things both new and seasoned landlords should consider. Opening up your property to new tenants is a time of uncertainty. Both for you and for the person renting. Will they like your place? Is it up-to-date enough to attract attention from great tenants?

SmartMove has curated the top 11 blog posts for prepping your rental property for the market. From where to list your rental, to property maintenance tips, to screening a tenant’s background before the lease gets signed, these articles can help increase your bottom-line by choosing great tenants.

  1. The 26 Best Websites to List Your Rental Property Listing
  2. How to Perform a Rental Property Inspection
  3. How Much Should I Charge for Rent: A Guide to Rental Rates
  4. Landlord Tips: 13 Must-Know Tips for New Landlords
  5. The Difference Between a Lease and Rental Agreement
  6. The Best Time to List Your Rental Property
  7. How to Properly Maintain Your Rental Property
  8. How to Reduce Vacancies: 4 Ways to Rent Out Your Property Quickly
  9. The Pros and Cons of Installing Smart Home Technology in Your Rental Property
  10. Common Terms to Include in a Rental Agreement
  11. SmartMove’s ResidentScore vs. a Typical Credit Score: Which is Better?

best websites to list your property

Best Websites for Listing Your Rental Property

While there’s nothing wrong with a tried-and-true “For Rent” sign sticking out of a freshly cut lawn, today’s renters are more likely to find their next home online. Yelp-like rental reviews and search tools that update in real time are right on everyone’s phone. These websites offer services that have made it more competitive for landlords needing to find their next great tenant. These online rental marketplaces and best rental listing sites can help you target the right renters and help advertise your property.

Spring Prep Tip:The nicer the property, the nicer the photos and video should be when promoting it in hopes of finding new tenants. But it works the other way, too?the nicer the photos, the more renters will value your property. So, before the place gets any older, consider paying to have professional photos taken. You can save them for the next time you rent or sell, and their quality compared to photos taken with a phone could mean getting a higher rent or sales price.

property inspection tips

How to Perform a Rental Property Inspection

Routine check-ups aren’t just for your chompers. Whether you have a tenant moving in, current renter moving out, or have been renting to the same person for years, performing property inspections is an important part of a landlord’s job. No matter how great your tenant or applicant may be, checking in can help prevent big problems down the road. Scheduled look-overs also indicate to a tenant the type of condition you expect the property to be returned in. If you show a lack of regard for the property, they may very well do the same.

Spring Prep Tip: A good landlord-tenant relationship is based on cooperation and transparency. From before a lease is signed, make it clear your intent to inspect. Let your tenant know when you’ll be coming by—especially because there are many laws surrounding landlord visits. If you have a current tenant, send them an email saying you want to schedule something with them. Then, follow these tips on performing a property inspection check, how to do it legally and what to look for.  

How much to charge tenants for rent

How Much Should I Charge for Rent

It can often feel overwhelming weighing all the factors that go into deciding how much to charge for rent. Square footage. Amenities. Neighborhood. Architectural style. The list is endless. As an independent landlord, it’s important to understand to not only set your rental rate around profitability, but to be competitively priced for attracting a high number of great prospective tenants. To find the sweet spot, these tips for estimating rent may help maximize income while minimizing risk.

Spring Prep Tip: Determining the proper rental price for this time of year doesn’t have to be challenging. Simply use rental listing sites like Craigslist, Hotpads, or Zillow, and set the search filters to match your property. If you have a 3 bd/2 ba, what are they going for in your neck of the woods? The more honest with your evaluation of your property, the more accurate the pricing research will be.

difference between lease and rental agreenment

13 Must-Know Tips for New Landlords

From ensuring that you are treating your rental property like a business to using the full power of the Internet to find tenants, run background checks, and set a rent price that maximizes your income, this guide shares valuable techniques that both new and veteran independent landlords will find helpful for better managing their property investment.

Spring Prep Tip: Great tenants come from keeping great records. Before you even begin searching for new renters, create a folder on your computer to manage all your paperwork and files for this property. This should become your “vault” for everything tenant-related, including background check results, notes from inspections, and copies of documents such as the renter’s insurance, the signed leasing agreement and any notes of neighbors contacting you directly regarding the tenant.

tips for new landlords

The Difference Between a Lease and Rental Agreement

The names “lease agreement” and “rental agreement” are often used interchangeably. But these terms can refer to two distinct types of agreements. Discovering the separate strengths of both leases and rental agreement, serves to guide you toward a more solid contract between you and the person paying you rent each month. Failing to offer the proper one to your prospective tenant could result not only in confusion but having the unintended consequences of lowering your expected rental income.

Spring Prep Tip: Depending on how flexible you are with your rental property, sometimes it makes sense to wait and talk about rental durations and lease options until after you’ve found a few exceptional tenant prospects. Being open to a lease or a rental agreement may help you attract a better renter. This quick guide shows you what you must include in your paperwork in order to protect yourself and your property.

best time of year to list your rental unit

The Best Time to List Your Rental Property

If you wanted to open a fro-yo shop in North Dakota, then you wouldn’t hold a grand opening in January—the timing isn’t so good. Choosing what time of year to list your rental property is also important and can play a big role in how much rent you’ll get locked into. If you need to take advantage of the peak rental season (and peak rents), then this guide gives you insights on the best months to do it, how to calculate the right rent rate, and how to screen people you want to rent to.

Spring Prep Tip: If you wait until summer to start getting your property ready for peak rental season, then your improvements may delay getting a lease signed. Schedule a spring inspection, so you can have an early idea of any painting, cleaning or refurbishing you might want to try and complete before summer hits.

how to maintain your rental property

How to Properly Maintain Your Rental Property

Staying current on your property’s condition can help maintenance take less time and money. This rental property maintenance guide helps you stay organized, budget accordingly, and gives great insights behind the most popular strategies for managing rental maintenance whether you own one property or many.

Spring Prep Tip: Sometimes, you just have to rip off the bandage. Call your current tenant(s), or inspect your vacant property, and check in on if there are any current issues you didn’t know about. Though you may not want to know, it’s better because 1) you may be violating habitability laws, and 2) better to check early before they become serious problems. This article tells you what to look for, when to inspect, and who to talk to for professional help with home maintenance.

ways to rent your unit quickly

Four Ways to Rent Out Your Property Quickly

Lack of rent coming in could turn your mortgage payment into a sudden liability. But tenant turnover can cost even more need to pay for maintenance and repair, cleaning, and advertising your vacancy. Avoid renting so quickly that you fail to run a background check—online tenant screening can help you discover high-caliber renters to whom you feel comfortable handing over the keys. SmartMove has put together four simple strategies for find better tenants more quickly, while still giving yourself time to check references.

Spring Prep Tip:  No matter what time of year it is, like most things in life, preparation is key when you’re trying to reduce how long it takes you to replace a tenant. But it’s especially important when approaching the highly active summer rental season. This guide shows you how to be proactive with your tenant search, ways you can optimize your advertising, and the ideal types of comprehensive renter screening services that you don’t even have to pay for (choose to have your renter pay).

smart technology for your rental

The Pros and Cons of Installing Smart Home Technology in Your Rental Property

Doorbell cameras. Lights that turn on by voice. A thermostat your tenant can set from their phone. More and more smart homes are connecting to the internet every day. While these features can be seen as a perk to prospective renters, there are rules for where you can and can’t place monitoring devices. As the property owner, it’s on you to know state surveillance laws that may limit you. This quick guide will show you the costs and benefits of installing such devices on your rental property.

Spring Prep Tip: Start researching now about the most popular (and/or most affordable) devices available. Are you able to offset the cost of these new gadgets by making your lighting and heating/AC more efficient? There are several reasons you might want to install smart home technology, and it makes the most sense to do it before a busy rental season.

rental agreement legal terms

Common Terms to Include in a Rental Agreement

From occupancy limits and security deposits to length of tenancy and expected maintenance to house rules and required paperwork, there are many things to be addressed and included within the leases and rental agreements you offer to renters. To help maximize your rental income and better protect yourself from tenant-related issues, it’s imperative you have a strong agreement that clearly states your rules and expectations. This article  breaks down the reasoning behind each item you want to be sure to write into your documents.

Spring Prep Tip: It’s never too early to start taking notes of things you want to include in your upcoming rental paperwork. Things like rules for the property, payment procedures, and other renter responsibilities should be in writing. As you draw up your leasing papers, be sure to use common terms and clear language that’s understood by both you and your tenants.

ResidentScore vs. Generic credit Score

SmartMove’s ResidentScore vs. a Typical Credit Score: Which is Better?

Traditionally, landlords have used a rental applicant’s credit score as the baseline for judging if the prospective tenant is going to be a quality renter. But more often than not, credit scores are merely one measurement of a person and their financial aptitude—the number often fails to give you a full picture of your tenant. SmartMove background checks include a ResidentScore to fill in the gaps where the classic credit check comes up short. This article takes you on a deep dive to show you why ResidentScore may look like a credit score, but actually can give you much stronger insights into your risks of having to evict someone.

Spring Prep Tip: It’s important to screen the background of renters any time of year, but even more so before the busiest renting season. Familiarize yourself with ResidentScore from SmartMove and understand how you can use this score to help make more confident judgements about your next renter’s ability to stay and pay.

It’s Always the Season for Running Online Tenant Background Checks

Spring, summer, autumn or winter—no matter the season there are countless benefits to screening as much of a tenant’s background as possible. Comprehensive background checks from SmartMove give you powerful insight into a renter’s credit, criminal and eviction reports and ResidentScore in just minutes.

This year, give yourself a greater chance of finding reliable, profitable tenants by using TransUnion SmartMove insights to guide your renter selection. Designed specifically for independent landlords, reliable reports help you to better predict the quality of your applicant. Skipping screening isn’t a wise option—it’s not worth the risk to your property and sanity. Plus, it costs you nothing if you have your applicant pay. Get a free SmartMove account today.

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