Whether you’re an experienced landlord or entirely new to property management, how you handle your tenants matters. A proven, professional procedure for managing both your property and your tenants helps ensure a smooth, seamless, and positive experience for everyone.
Most rental properties follow the same tenant turnover process, which is often referred to as the tenant life cycle. While certain factors may vary, there are some aspects of property rental and tenant management that are just about always the same.
The primary stages of the tenant life cycle are:
- End of Lease, or Lease Termination
Here’s how to get the most out of your rental investment at any stage of the tenant life cycle so you can keep happy tenants and a profitable property.
Stage 1: Vacancy
What you do while your property is vacant is just as important as what you do while it’s occupied. Vacancy is a work-heavy stage of your property life cycle, and completing tasks professionally and promptly helps set both you and your future tenant up for a positive experience.
- Cleaning - Your rental property is empty and needs a professional deep cleaning, whether or not you’ve had tenants in it before. From the carpets to the ceiling fans, blinds to vents, making your property feel brand new and inviting increases its appeal.
- Maintenance and repairs - Now is the time to get all those repair and update projects done that you may have been putting off while the property was occupied. Proactive, professional maintenance done during this time will help prevent emergency maintenance calls while a tenant is in residence. Common issues you may want to address include minor plumbing and electrical work, updating paint and cabinetry fixes, and updates to ceiling fans and appliances, etc. It’s also important to remember to check things like smoke detectors, HVAC systems, and even toilet seats to make sure even the smallest item is in proper working condition.
- Weatherization - Oklahoma weather can change on a dime, and it’s the last thing you want causing problems for your future tenants. Make sure your property is weather-tight and weather-ready to avoid emergencies like burst pipes in surprise cold snaps, property damage from sudden downpours, and zapped air conditioners in a heatwave.
- Regulatory inspections - Double-check your compliance with regulatory inspections. Laws and regulations regarding leased properties can vary greatly by city and even county and they change frequently. Now’s the time to get everything from fire inspections to housing authority inspections up-to-date so you stay up-to-code.
- Marketing plan - Your property has to be noticed before it can be rented. Start thinking about how you’re going to market your rental property now so when it’s ready to lease, it won’t sit empty long.
- In-person monitoring while the property is vacant - A vacant property can be an invitation for unwanted guests. Make sure you or someone you trust is checking on your rental property frequently to deter vandalism and squatters, monitor for damage, and catch problems like rodent infestations.
At Oklahoma Red Door Management, our team is experienced in managing vacant properties and preparing them for occupancy. We can leverage our network of local, reliable partners to help alleviate the burden of turning a property so you can keep turning a profit without all the headache.
Stage 2: Tenant Screening
You’ve put in the work to perfect your property; now it’s time to find the perfect tenant. Troublesome tenants can mean big problems for you, in everything from paying rent on time to causing damage or disturbing neighbors. Screening is absolutely essential for making sure you get the right person to rent.
- Rental applications - Completing valid, legal rental applications that protect you and your tenant means having a solid understanding of local laws and regulations as well as an in-depth understanding of what questions to ask of tenants. Background checks and former landlord discussions require you to request specific information and ask certain questions.
- Regulations on selecting tenants - Different states have different laws about the process in which you select your tenants. Some require you to process applications in the order in which you receive them while others allow you to process several applications at once. Knowing how to properly process applications protects you legally and financially.
- Screening fees - Charging and collecting fees from each tenant to cover the cost of vetting their application can be difficult without a pre-planned procedure. Online payments are popular among renters and allow for money to be dropped directly where it needs to go.
- Property showings - You and your property are just as much a part of the tenant selection as the tenants themselves. You want to showcase the best aspects of your rental property and demonstrate that you are a professional, attentive landlord so potential applicants feel confident.
Oklahoma Red Door Management offers the robust tenant screening services you need to make sure you find the right renter. From extensive background checks and in-person property showings to detailed preparation of legal documents, our experienced staff helps protect your investment by keeping your property occupied with responsible renters.
Stage 3: Property Leasing
A lease is a legally binding document between you as the property owner and the renter. A lease sets the expectations you have of your renter and protects both of you from undue legal or financial burdens. Whenever there is a question or problem regarding anything about the property–from who’s responsible for repairs to when rent is due–it will always come back to the lease, so proper preparation is essential.
- Lease preparation and updates - Your lease should include just about anything and everything that pertains–or could pertain–to renting your property, and it should all be communicated clearly and specifically. Some areas to cover are who can and cannot be there, what expenses the tenant is responsible for, and what the ramifications are for violating aspects of the lease. Covering each item to ensure proper compliance from your tenant goes a long way to a better tenant/landlord relationship during the occupancy stage of the life cycle.
- Scheduling move-in dates and calculating move-in cost - This is more than just picking a date on the calendar and taking a check. In addition to coordinating both your and your tenants’ schedules, you also need to decide what the first month’s rent payment will look like. If the tenant is moving in during the middle of the month, you may need to prorate the first month. You also need to establish a convenient, secure way for them to get the payments to you before they take control of the property.
- Accepting security deposits - There are parameters to what you can legally require as a security deposit to protect your property and your interests. Knowing what you can charge and when you can collect is important to make sure you stay compliant with local rental laws and regulations.
Just like other legal documents, leases require precise wording to be enforceable and effective. ORDM has more than 20 years of experience managing properties in Oklahoma and we have a proven, professional process for preparing leases and rental agreements. In addition to standard leases, we can also help you create short or tailored leases such as those with co-signers and clauses for noise, damage, or max occupancy.
Stage 4: Move-in
Move-in is a relatively simple process, but it’s important that it’s a positive, seamless experience for both you and the new tenant.
- Keys - Meeting the new tenants in person to let them physically take control of the property and deliver the keys helps establish a good relationship from the outset.
- Welcome packets - Creating a welcome packet with all the information a new tenant needs is a simple courtesy that makes a big impact. Make sure to include information about how and when to pay rent, phone numbers for emergency and non-emergency maintenance requests, and any other information about the house or community that may be helpful.
While scheduling in-person key transfers is ideal, it can be difficult to coordinate, especially if property management is not your full-time job or you don’t live near your rental property. As a local company, Oklahoma Red Door Management can offer your new tenants a friendly, professional face on day one, as well as timely communication and issue resolution whenever they need it.
Stage 5: Residence Occupancy
This stage is all about tenant relations and maintaining the rapport you have hopefully been developing throughout the process so far.
- Online payment collection - Providing options for tenants to pay their rent easily online each month helps encourage on-time payments and seamless money transfer, both of which create a better, more consistent experience for you and the renter.
- Lease enforcement. Late payments, tenant complaints, and lease violations–enforcing a rental agreement can be an uncomfortable and time-consuming task. Making sure you have a process for dealing with these issues in a timely and professional manner can help you address problems quickly and prevent them from getting worse.
- Emergency maintenance - No matter how much preventative maintenance you do, an emergency will always arise at the most inopportune times. Being able to provide fast and reliable emergency maintenance and repair services helps keep your property in shape and your tenants happy.
ORDM makes occupancy simple for you and your tenants, with services like 24/7 emergency maintenance services; options for online and automatic rent payment; online submission for maintenance requests; and lease management and enforcement, including regulation enforcement, dispute resolution, renewals, and eviction enforcement as necessary.
Stage 6: End of Lease
In a perfect world, leases end calmly and quietly. In reality, lease termination can be messy and complicated with wide-reaching legal ramifications for you and/or the tenant. Being prepared for both helps ensure you can manage the end-of-lease stage professionally and efficiently.
- Lease extensions/renewals - At the end of a lease period, the lease can be extended, ended, or re-structured to a long-term or month-to-month agreement. Whatever you and the tenant decide, you’ll still need to follow the requisite legal parameters.
- Written lease-end plans/notice to vacate - Both the property manager (or landlord) and the tenant have the responsibility to provide written communication to the other if the lease agreement is coming to an end. The tenant must provide a written 30-day notice before they move out and the property manager must provide a notice to vacate with specific instructions if they are requiring the tenant to move out of the rental property.
- Disagreements - Not all relationships end on a good note and often it takes a seasoned mediator to provide resolution to disagreements. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of the legal side to any disagreement and act accordingly.
- Eviction services - If for any reason an eviction is necessary, you’ll need to have a good understanding of your and your tenant’s legal rights, as well as any legalities you need to follow.
Whether your tenant’s lease ends amicably or not, it is your responsibility as the property owner to understand the legal protocols for protecting you, your property, and your tenant’s rights. Oklahoma Red Door Management is a local company with a deep understanding of city, county, and state requirements for terminating a lease, and we can help you navigate the legal nuances with confidence.
Stage 7: Move-Out
Once the current tenant is ready to move out of your property, it’s time to do a final walk-through and close out any open tasks or financial issues. Then you can start preparing the property for the next tenant, bringing your property full circle to the vacancy task list.
- Inspection and cleaning - Before the tenant is released from the responsibility and physical control of the property, it should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected to identify any damage that may have occurred during the occupancy. A walk-through is also a good time to have the tenant point out any areas of concern so you can assess what needs to be updated or repaired before the next tenant.
- Calculate and return the security deposit - Once you’ve done all the assessments and evaluated everything in the house you’ll need to deduct the cost of any repairs the tenant is responsible for and then calculate and return the rest of the security deposit.
ORDM helps you manage every step of the tenant life cycle seamlessly and efficiently, thanks to an established network of professional vendors, streamlined processes, and extensive management experience. We work hard to make sure we keep things moving, so neither you nor your rental property misses a beat.
Let Oklahoma Red Door Management Help Manage Your Tenant Life Cycle
Every day your rental property stands empty is money lost, but mismanagement of that property or not properly vetting a tenant can cost you even more in the long run. ORDM is here to help you get the most out of your rental investment no matter where it is in the tenant life cycle. We keep our fees and expenses low without sacrificing the quality, reliability, or professionalism of our services and we always keep you informed with transparent and consistent communication.
Don’t spend any more of your valuable time or money trying to get ahead on your rental property. When you partner with ORDM, you can take advantage of our decades of experience in the real estate business as well as our in-depth industry acumen for property management support that is positive and profitable. Contact us today at 405-677-9116 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.