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Create great first impression for renters

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Keep in mind: when renting, most people have their own furniture and would prefer to arrange the interior to their own liking

Dear Heather,

I have a house that I’d like to rent out long-term (three years). Do you do rentals as well as sales? What should I do to get my house rent-ready, and how much does it cost to put it with an agency for rent?

House for Rent

Dear House for Rent,

Funnily enough, at Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty, some of us are now able to do rentals as well as sales. I am one of them.

Unlike sales, where people can buy properties “as is”, with the view to fixing them up, rentals are quite the opposite. I have outlined a few things you should attend to before putting your house on the rental market.

1, Cover the basics

Before tackling the aesthetics, you’ll want to make sure your property meets the basic requirements of a quality household.

You should have the following:

• Phone/internet connection

• Air conditioning

• Security: changing locks between tenancies is recommended. Always have a spare sets of keys for yourself and your managing agent (including window locks, garage and swipe cards).

• Ample water supply

• Smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher

You’ll also want to check whether there is any aspect of your property that fails to meet current regulations or safety guidelines for example stairs, railings, balconies, etc.

2. Surpass the standard clean

Anything less than sparkling clean can be off-putting to a new tenant.

It also sets the precedent for the standard of cleanliness expected when your tenants vacate; they are only obliged to leave it in the same condition as when it was rented.

Your best move is to invest in professional cleaning, so your property looks spotless, smells fresh and removes any signs of previous inhabitants. (This is particularly important if the previous tenants had pets).

Give it an extensive detailed clean that includes:

• Professionally steam cleaning or dry-cleaning carpets

• Repolishing floorboards and tiled flooring

• Cleaning windows and screens

• A detailed cleaning of all interiors and appliances

• Cleaning lights and ceiling fans

• Cleaning exteriors — power wash them if needed

• Touch up paint

•Mow the lawn, pull weeds, trim hedges

• Empty and clean all trash and recycling bins

3, If it’s broken, fix it

It’s not uncommon on a property for things to get neglected and for the inhabitants to get used to living with them that way.

Now is the time to get them sorted so your property is in mint condition.

Inspect every fixture, from the letterbox to the back fence and everything in between, and check if it needs replacing or repairing.

Look out for problem areas such as:

• Mouldy bathroom grouting

• Leaking washers or taps

• Broken tiles and chipped paint

• Broken light fittings and burnt-out light bulbs

• Broken door and window latches

• Smoke detectors overdue for service

• Cooling systems requiring service

• Faulty swimming pool filters and/or equipment

• Dirty fireplaces

• Faulty or damaged appliances

• Faulty fences, gates or security systems

Attention given to a minor repair today can potentially save you spending dollars to fix a bigger problem down the road.

4, Tidy up all outdoor areas

The first thing people notice when they visit a house or apartment is the outside.

Is the front door dirty? Is the lawn overgrown? Are there cobwebs hanging from the eaves? You’ll want to create a great first impression for all your visitors.

Pay particular attention to:

• Weeding garden beds and pruning hedges

• Trimming back vines and overhanging trees

• Mowing lawns and reviving dead patches

• Cleaning front entrance and external light fittings

• Cleaning the garage door and garage flooring

• Removing cobwebs from eaves

• Cleaning windows and glass doors

• Sweeping and power washing driveways, pathways and paved areas

• Removing stains from driveway

• Removing all garbage and garden refuse

5, Add value with improvements

Updating the interior of a home instantly lifts its mood and appeal to tenants.

Walls should be freshly painted in a pale, neutral colour; pull out and patch over holes from all the nails and hooks that have been put in place over the years.

Tile and light fittings are also an affordable way to transform spaces; adding extra creature comforts like reverse cycle air conditioning can also potentially increase property value.

6. Organise services and utilities

Before a tenant moves in, don’t forget to check final readings for gas, telephone, electricity and water.

If you have an alarm connected to a security service, remember to cancel your account or transfer it over to the tenant’s details if required.

Likewise, pool, garden or grounds maintenance contractors may need updating or cancelling, depending on the lease agreement.

7, Furniture

Remember that whatever you leave in your house, you are responsible for if it stops working or breaks. It is not recommended to leave things such as TVs, or even small appliances. Most people have their own furniture and would prefer to arrange the interior to their own liking, plus the second-hand market in Bermuda is amazing as we are such a transient society.

However, we do find that the city rentals do better with clean, modern furniture in place.

8, Cost of an agent

To have an agency list, market and find a suitable tenant for your property costs just the first month’s rent.

However, if you are elderly, busy or going overseas and won’t be able to deal with any problems that come up, then a full service management can be put in place and that will cost 7.5 per cent of the rent per month.

You will be responsible for keeping money in an account with your management company to pay for things like routine maintenance, landscaping and pool cleaning/care.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for nearly 30 years. Contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Look for Ask Heather Real Estate on Facebook

Surpass the standard: anything less than sparkling clean can be off-putting to a new tenant