So we have gone through most everything you need to take care of to prepare a property or rental unit for being rented. The last thing to talk about this week is safety inspections. I’ve separated this from other aspects such as maintenance and walk-through because the safety of your tenants is so critically important.
While some may think basic safety is the responsibility of the tenant (which to a certain extent you could claim), remember where your business lies. Your business is in providing a safe enjoyable home for people – the more you put onto the tenant, the less value you provide as a manager, and the less likely your tenants are to stay with you (or even become your tenants at all).
On a basic level, you need to do the obvious such as checking locks (and possibly even changing them if necessary), windows, exterior doors, and of course smoke detectors. I am always paranoid about sprinkler systems so I think its a good idea to visually inspect the sprinkler heads that are in your units (should you have a sprinkler system in the building) – it would be unfortunately for a new tenant to move in, bump into what happens to be a previously damaged sprinkler head and have all of their stuff ruined (and potentially everyone else’s). You should have fire safety inspections completed on a regular basis of course, but it doesn’t hurt to take your own visual inspection when you have the opportunity, just to check for obvious problems.
On the subject of fire safety, what is your stance on the fire extinguisher? I’ve experienced both properties that provide a freshly charged fire extinguisher and properties which provide nothing. From a renters perspective, I really do appreciate being provided with this potentially life saving tool – mostly because when I am not provided one, I don’t tend to get one (after all, the average tenant isn’t going to know what to look for, if they even consider getting one). This may seem like an extra upfront cost to you, but the added layer of security will be appreciated by your tenants (and may even win you some prospectives who are shopping around).
For those of you who manage smaller properties – or single family homes – be sure to check the security of the exterior as well (this can obviously be done for larger properties, but on a single unit turnover this usually isn’t necessary). Make sure there is proper lighting at night, that all points of access are easy to get to, and that the address of the property is clearly marked and easy to see. I think many people underestimate the importance of a clearly addressed property – I find I appreciate it when the address is lit at night even (something not to bright, but light enough to make the address clear). This can be important for emergency situations – or simply for convenience when ordering a late night pizza.
When it all comes down to it, the biggest things that will make a difference in your tenant’s opinion of your management and the home they are trying to make is all the little things. Does the home feel safe? Is the door properly secure when it closes? Does the latch feel strong? Do the windows have proper locking and feel safe? The sense of safety is just as important as the actual safety of the property – so keep all these things in mind as you prepare to rent.