How to Prepare for New Tenants

How to Prepare for New Tenants
By Monica Schaefer
How to prepare for new tenants

Military families prepare for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) by making lists, many of them. At the top of every list is at least one item that embodies some aspect of military housing, whether it is notifying your landlord of your departure, renting or selling your current home or securing housing at your next military base. For military homeowners who choose to become landlords, this item will have more bullet points than most. While is here to make the process of renting your home easier, there are many aspects to this task that warrant your time and attention.
Credit / Background Check
As a landlord, whether your rent to a military or civilian tenant, the most important baseline of preparedness comes from the proper screening of your tenants. There are a variety of online options for screening prospective tenants for both credit and background checks, but SmartMove is one of the easiest and most secure programs available. SmartMove eliminates the uneasy feeling landlords often have when requesting personal information from tenants and allows all information to be securely submitted and reviewed through a personal online account.
State Specific Legal Forms
Once you have screened the perfect tenant, it is time to procure a legally binding document. MilitaryByOwner has partnered with to make downloading state specific legal forms as easy as a click of your mouse. Offering both Sale and Lease packages that have been reviewed to ensure that each document complies with the laws of your state.
In addition to including a Military Clause, you should clearly state the conditions of occupancy, such as how and when you can visit the property, guidelines for making modifications to the property and expectations for the care of the home and landscaping.  
The likelihood is, if it annoys you, it will bother your tenant too. It is easy to become complacent about the items that are inoperable or damaged around your home, but it is unreasonable to expect that your tenant will come to feel the same way about those items. The golden rule of "do unto others" is paramount to your duty as a responsible landlord. If you expect your tenants to take care of your home, then you need to lead by example. Take a tour of your home, room by room, and jot down the items that need repair or replacement and make sure that you check every item off of that list prior to handing the keys over to the new tenants.
Photographs / Video
Once the home has been thoroughly cleaned and repaired, take an extensive set of photographs, which include walls, carpets, sinks, tile, showers, toilets, closets, doors, pools, landscaping, and kitchen appliances. This will provide documentation of the condition of the home prior to the tenants taking ownership. If you are unable to visit the property yourself, employ a friend, neighbor or local real estate professional to take the photographs. These pictures may prove to be useful should a dispute arise. Make sure that the photos are date stamped and that a copy is kept with your lease agreement and other important documents.
Move In / Move Out Walkthrough
We discussed the importance of executing a final walkthrough on a home purchase, but a walkthrough on a rental home is equally important. We have provided an extensive Move In / Move Out Checklist for download below, which you and your tenants can utilize. If you are unable to meet your tenants in person for a walkthrough, send them a copy of the checklist, which you filled out after preparing the home for occupancy and then have your tenants fill out the same form once they move into the home. If there are any discrepancies between your checklist and the tenants, these can be addressed immediately as to avoid any future conflict. Again, keep a copy of the signed and dated checklist with your other legal documents so that you have it to refer to when the tenant moves out of the home.
Owner’s Manuals
This is a great idea for any homeowner, but as a landlord, the ability to provide your tenant with a well-organized binder of owner’s manuals, extended warranties and even paint samples is invaluable. A simple three-ringed binder filled with plastic sleeves will make the organization and safekeeping of all manuals simple. Be sure to include the binder on the list of items provided to the tenant on the Move In / Move Out checklist, with a reminder that the binder must remain with the home upon vacancy.
The landlord/tenant relationship is important to both parties. As a landlord it is essential to take care of both your property and your tenants. When crunch time arrives for military families, it is easy to let some items slide. Allow as much time as possible to properly prepare for your new tenants and under the "military housing" item on your list, be sure to add these bulleted items:
  • Run credit and background check through SmartMove,
  • Obtain state-specific legal documents through
  • Repair or replace broken items around the house.
  • Take an extensive set of photographs or videos representing the present condition of the home.
  • Download the MilitaryByOwner Move In / Move Out Checklist.
  • Gather Owner’s Manuals, extended warranty information and paint chips to create a binder for your tenant.
Preparing your home for new tenants may be time consuming, but the time you spend now will pay dividends later when you reap the benefits of your investment.