When was the last time you moved?
You know what it’s like. It can be energizing - even fun, but it can also be stressful. Tenants moving into your East Valley rental property are likely overwhelmed with details, what-if scenarios and fears that something might go wrong.
You can ease some of that turmoil by making things as smooth and efficient as possible on your end.
Move-in day marks the beginning of your relationship with the tenants you’ve approved for your property. It’s your chance to set the stage for how you’ll relate to one another and what you’ll do to provide an exceptional rental experience.
Show off what you have to offer by making the move-in process a breeze. This is your chance to establish a respectful and positive relationship.
Planning and communication are especially important. There’s more you can do, too. Here are 5 tips to making the move-in process as easy peasy as possible.
1. Make Sure Your East Valley Property Is Move-In Ready
Prepare your property for new residents. Take a careful look at it before move-in day.
Maybe your prior tenants left some things on the kitchen shelves or you’re renting out a home that you once lived in yourself, and there’s still a futon from your college days in one of the bedrooms. You don’t want these things in the home when new tenants take residence. Remove all of those personal items.
The goal is to offer a completely clean and empty home before a new tenant moves in with all of their own personal possessions. Don’t leave things behind even if you think they’ll be helpful. No one wants that countertop can opener or a fridge shelf full of open condiments.
Once you have an empty property, make sure you have a functional home. Carefully inspect every detail of the home, from the outlets to the window locks to the smoke detectors. Everything has to be fully functional, habitable, and safe. If any repairs need to be made, schedule your vendors before the move-in date. You don’t want any repair requests on day one or two of your tenant’s residency.
It’s a good time to look for potential improvements, as well. Is new paint needed on the walls? Do the carpets look worn and stained? Make minor replacements and even upgrades if it will improve how the property looks. This will help you retain the tenants who are moving in. You may also increase your rental value.
Your tenants will expect to move into a clean home. Hire professionals who will make all the surfaces shine, dust the ceiling fans and baseboards, and pull appliances away from the walls to clean any mess that’s gathered behind them. You’re setting a standard for cleanliness, so this is important. You’re showing the tenants how you expect your property to look when you get it back at the end of the lease term.
Before your new tenants move in, mow the lawn, trim any trees and bushes, and make sure the property looks welcoming and inviting.
2. Talk About the Lease With Your Mesa Tenants
The move-in process needs to include a discussion of the lease agreement. Ideally, this will happen before the tenants actually receive the keys and move into the home. When the lease is signed, discuss the most important parts of the document.
Most tenants sign the lease without really looking at it. Make sure you highlight all the important parts with your new tenants, specifically:
- Your rent collection policy.
- The process for requesting emergency and routine maintenance.
- Who is responsible for maintenance, air filters, utilities, landscaping, and if applicable, pool care.
- Pet policy.
- Rules and prohibitions, including smoking, long term guests, and any HOA requirements if your property is in an HOA.
This is your opportunity to share your expectations with the tenants. Make sure they understand their responsibilities and their role in keeping your investment safe and well-maintained.
When you meet before move-in to discuss and sign the lease, be sure to collect the move-in funds. Many property managers and landlords prefer to have certified funds. You can ask your tenants to pay electronically or with a certified bank check. These will usually be the security deposit, the first month’s rent, and any other fees such as pet fees.
While discussing the lease before move-in can orient your tenants to their rental agreement, you might want to orient them to the property as well.
If you’re there when they move in, show them where things are and how they work. They might need to see how the thermostat works or where the water shut-off is. Show them how the breakers work. If you’re not there in person, leave some instructions or send some videos that explain these things. Tenants will feel more at ease when they have a reference for how to manage in a new home. Provide your tenant with the keys and any remotes for the garage door or other systems that require remotes.
3. Complete a Move-In Inspection That Includes Your Tenant’s Input
We’ve talked about the importance of a move-in checklist before. When you inspect and document the condition of your property, you need to have that checklist handy so you can make notes about how your property looks. Take pictures to support the move-in inspection report.
Inspect each room. Look at the walls, baseboards, and the condition of the floor and all the equipment. You need to take photos of every room and every defect in each room. Record all the equipment in the property and record the serial numbers or model numbers. Note any damage. Record and test all appliances, including the refrigerator, dishwasher, garage door, and garbage disposal.
Provide the move-in checklist to your tenants after they’ve finished moving in. You’ll want them to have a day or two to conduct their own inspection. This is for their benefit - they don’t want to be held responsible for any flaws or problems at the end of the lease. Ask them to make any notes that they feel are necessary, and if possible, they should document what they find with pictures of their own.
File away the inspection report once you and your tenants sign it. This will be used at the end of the tenancy, when you’re conducting your move-out inspection.
4. Communicate and Remain Available to Tenants
Tenants will not expect (or want) you to be hovering while they’re moving their furniture and unpacking boxes. You probably don’t need to be there in person.
But, you do want to remain available to them in case they run into unexpected problems or have questions. Before the move-in day is established, make sure your tenants have all of your contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses. Let them know if you are more available by phone or message.
No one anticipates a major problem on moving day, but these things can be unpredictable. What if the electricity goes out or a toilet backs up or the back door refuses to open? You’ll want to know if the movers put a huge hole in the wall while moving in a sofa.
Tenants will feel better about the events of their day if they know you’re a responsive landlord who is ready to help out if necessary. You can send an email or a message at the end of the day, checking in to see if everything went smoothly and if they have any questions. It shows you care and have compassion for the stress and exhaustion that comes with moving from one home to another.
5. Consider a Welcome Gift
Sure, your tenants are only just moving in, but you should already be thinking about tenant retention. When you hold onto tenants and talk them into renewing their lease agreement year after year, you have fewer turnover expenses and less vacancy loss. That’s good news for your ROI and it keeps your property stable, safe, and occupied.
One way to establish a great relationship with your new tenants is to leave them a welcome gift at the property. You can do something small that thanks them for choosing your home and wishes them well in their new place. Consider a small plant or bouquet of flowers. Maybe something for the kitchen - like a set of dish towels or a magnet for the fridge. You might have good luck leaving them with a gift card for the local coffee shop or a nearby restaurant.
This will go a long way towards impressing your tenants and giving them a reason to feel good about their choice.
These are five of the best move-in tips we can offer you when you have new tenants taking up residence in your Mesa rental home. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at TCT Property Management Services. We manage homes throughout the East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, and Phoenix. We’d be happy to help you move your tenants in successfully.