From the time existing tenants provide notice of vacating at the end of their lease, to the moment a new lease is signed, can be a stressful period for any rental owner. The temptation is to do shorten this stressful period of worry by immediately finding a new tenant. What a relief to know that as one tenant moves out, another moves in! In practice, the effort to relieve the stress, and re-lease the rental, may result in the biggest mistake an owner can make. The owner who insists on marketing for renters while their unit is still occupied is likely adding to their stress over a much longer period. Allowing prospective tenants to see the home prior to the existing tenant completing moving out is almost always a big mistake.
Marketing for renters while the home is still occupied can lead to one of the following events.
The condition of the home scares off great potential tenants.
Losing a new tenant due to a bad showing appearance is costly. At any one time there exists a market for potential renters. They jump on any new property for rent. Marketing for renters during the first few days of a new listing are often some of the busiest. A bad impression will never bring those prospects back. More importantly, really good tenants (the ones you want living in your property) expect to move into a clean, well maintained home. It is hard to imagine what your property will look like once the owner has a short turn-over period from vacancy to occupancy. Will it meet their standards? Moving on to the next vacant property is easier than imagining.
This may surprise you but some tenants really do not care what the home looks like while showing it. You also can’t make them leave so they can tell prospective tenants all kinds of things that may or may not be true.
Promises are made that cleaning, maintenance and painting will be completed
When marketing for renters while a home is occupied, certain promises and commitments may have to be made. The new tenant’s expectations may be established at an unreasonable level. Promises are made that may not be possible to keep. Why? Often, the owner approves the maintenance and repair items and wants to accommodate a tenant moving in. Promises are made to repair something after they move in. Unfortunately, after the tenant moves in it is much more complicated to make the repair and for whatever reason it is not made completely.
More often than you might expect, tenants contact us a few days out from the end of their lease and ask for an additional month of occupancy. They have not found a place to live. Almost all leases provide for this request with something called “Holdovers”. More commonly this practice is called a month to month rental. The lease has expired but the tenant remains. A good lease will provide for an increased rental amount during any holdover.
What do you do if you already committed to a new tenant? You have just added some unplanned legal expenses to your hopes of saving with a seamless transition.
Marketing For Renters – The Best Practice
The best practice is to show a vacant, ready to move-in home. The risks involved in trying to obtain a tenants cooperation, are likely not worth it. Enter a lease with your new tenants with no list of repairs or maintenance promised. Use the first few days of vacancy to complete a full inspection of all maintenance items. Items such as gutters cleaned out, furnace filters changed, and most importantly a cleaning that is just not possible when a home is occupied. This is also the best time to schedule any updates such as flooring replacement or painting. Scheduling for this work in the first days after vacancy will minimize your turnover period.
Making the best first impression with potential new tenants establishes what type of ownership and management a tenant can expect. It also sets a standard for what is expected from tenants. What kind of tenant rents a home that is dirty or needs repairs? Often it is a tenant that has set their standards lower. Is that really who you want renting your home?