Preparing a Vacant Investment Property for New Tenants

By 4 min read • December 7, 2023
An empty rental property

It is vital for landlords to make their rental properties appealing to prospective tenants before showing and leasing.

A clean, updated and well-maintained property can help attract higher quality tenants who will stay longer term. But preparing a vacant investment property requires more than a quick dust and vacuum. Small details before listing can make all the difference, and the effort invested upfront can pay dividends by allowing you to charge higher rents and keep good tenants for many years.

Deep Clean the Property

A thorough end of tenancy clean of the entire property is essential to make it appealing and presentable for tenants. Scrub and disinfect all surfaces, vacuum carpets, wash windows, dust the surfaces and inspect all areas of the home to remove grime and odours. It can be worthwhile hiring professional carpet cleaners to steam clean and disinfect any carpeted areas to remove stains and embedded dirt. It’s also important to check carefully for signs of pest infestations such as mice or bed bugs, and call an exterminator immediately if found.

If previous tenants have had pets, smoked in the property or haven’t ventilated the home well enough, there may be lingering smells. Cleaning the heating and ventilation systems in the home will help to provide fresh, healthy indoor air, but it’s also important to open up all the windows and let plenty of air in to freshen up the property. A sparkling clean house where everything looks pristine is key to attracting good prospective tenants quickly.

Tackle Necessary Repairs

Ensuring all systems and appliances are in good working order is imperative for any rental, but especially when you’re attracting new tenants. Be sure to test all plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilation systems and make any necessary repairs before the home goes on the market. It’s also wise to inspect the roof, windows, doors and locks, as well as caulking and weather stripping, so you can fix any leaks, draughts or sticking doors. Fire safety is paramount with any rental property, so checking smoke alarms work and fire doors are functioning properly will ensure your rental is compliant with the relevant legislation, particularly for holiday lets. 

Chipped or yellowed paint can make the property look dated and uncared for, so taking the time to refresh walls and trims will freshen up each room for its new occupants. You can refresh old paint by giving it a fresh coat, or completely repaint if the existing paint is flaking or dingy. Now’s the time to also check flooring and refinish wooden floors, replace stained or worn carpeting, or re-grout tiles if needed. These tasks will elevate the look of the property and could even be the difference between a low rental income and the ability to charge a higher rent.

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Maintain Exterior Areas

A well-maintained exterior helps make a great first impression on prospective tenants visiting the property. So, if your buy-to-let comes with an outdoor space, take time to mow lawned areas, trim shrubs and trees, and pull out any weeds to tidy the space up. Remove fallen branches, litter or debris that may have accumulated, and if the lawn is patchy, re-seed any bare or brown spots.

For especially unkempt gardens or patios, it may be wise to hire a professional landscaping service to tidy up the garden and refresh the vegetation before the new tenants move in. A pristine garden indicates the home has been nicely cared for and is ready for new occupants to move in, and it can be the point that sways an interested party into putting down their deposit.

Make any Necessary Cosmetic Upgrades

Making small cosmetic upgrades while the property is empty is a good use of the vacancy period, and it can modernise a rental to make it more desirable. For example, you may want to update old, worn light fixtures, change out hardware on cabinets, and replace taps with new, modern looking ones. Install fresh window blinds or curtains to give the property a clean, current feel, or even replace with automated alternatives that will sync to a home automation system for added convenience to the occupants.

If you’re looking to take on a bigger project before listing the property with online estate agents, as it’s competitive out there, you may want to replace any visibly dated, worn or discoloured flooring, countertops, sinks and vanities. Jobs like these can be hard to do when the property is occupied, so it’s a good use of the time between tenancies and it creates a more modern, luxurious property that will stand out on the property market. Modernising dated features makes the property more attractive to tenants and allows landlords to command higher rents.

Get the Property Move-In Ready

Preparing a rental property between tenants provides an opportunity to set the unit up for success with new occupants. In addition to cleaning and painting, there are a few tasks you can carry out to make sure your new tenants receive a warm welcome when they enter their new home for the first time.

In the final days before new tenants arrive, remove any mail or packages that have accumulated during the unit’s vacancy. Verify all provided keys work properly to avoid frustrations accessing the property and mailboxes, and leave clear written instructions on useful details like alarm codes, the location of water shut-off valves and electrical metres, directions on operating appliances and other systems. Also ensure tenants have your contact information for emergency situations. Taking these steps helps the new occupancy get off to the best possible start and sets the tone for a smooth landlord-tenant relationship.

Tending to the necessary maintenance tasks before listing a vacant rental property is time and money well spent. This is valid for landlords in the current economic climate who might decide to or need to sell up quickly in the future. The effort invested upfront in improving the presentation of a property and making it appear homely, clean and comfortable pays dividends through attracting good tenants faster. A well-cared for and updated rental stands out on the market and represents a wise investment for landlords seeking to maximise returns.

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