If you’re thinking of renting out your entire house, your basement or a room in your home, there’s a lot you need to do before you post a “for rent” sign to make it someone else’s dream home. Making a rental unit move-in-ready isn’t just about décor. Becoming a good landlord means you understand how to protect your tenant(s), your home and yourself. Review this checklist to ensure you put your best foot forward:

Home Inspection

Walk around your home as a would-be renter. Look for potential problems, such as roof leaks, clogged gutters, leaky faucets and burnt out light bulbs. It’s also important to inspect walls and floors for holes or snags. You can’t afford to procrastinate. There are way too many hidden costs if you wait until after your tenant moves in. Before your tenants move in, take photos of everything, so damages can be dealt with professionally.

Pro Tip: A fresh coat of paint may help seal the deal. Walls with a neutral colour make rooms seem cleaner and brighter.

 

Think Safety

If you’re renting out a portion of your house, secure and separate the rental area from the rest of your home. Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition. Don’t forget to equip the kitchen with a fire extinguisher.

Pro Tip: Replace smoke and CO2 detector batteries twice a year, when clocks spring forward, and when clocks fall back.

 

Scrub it Inside Out

Nothing will turn a potential renter off more than dirt and grime. Clean from top to bottom. Dust fans and clean the windows and blinds before scrubbing the floor. Have carpets shampooed, ensuring they are stain free. Kitchens and bathrooms may need more attention than other rooms. Renting a home with appliances may allow you to boost the rental price.

Pro Tip: To keep your rental unit in hygienic condition, consider including the cost of a cleaning company in the rental agreement. 

 

Outdoor Up Keep

Curb appeal is just as important when you’re renting your home as it is when you’re selling it. If your rental property has green space, make sure it’s neat and tidy. You will also need to discuss upkeep with your new tenants. For example, are you going to mow the lawn or will they? Are they allowed to plant flowers? Pull weeds?

Pro Tip: Outline the yard rules and responsibilities in the rental agreement.

 

Plan Ahead

Make sure your tenant knows how to contact you and how to handle problems that might arise after they have moved in. A welcome binder with local information, cleaning requirements and other details is a great idea. Having a reputable contractor or other professional on-call will help you be a better landlord and stay on top of repairs as they happen.

Pro Tip: If you won’t be available to check on your property periodically or when problems arise, consider hiring a property manager to do so.