The move-in and lease signing process can be confusing, especially for first-time landlords. What exactly happens after you choose a qualified renter? Do they get to move in immediately? What is the process like?
To answer your questions, we have prepared a comprehensive move-in and lease signing guide to ensure that the entire process is as stress-free as possible.
The Lease Signing Process
The lease can be signed in person or online. Ideally, the landlord or property manager should go over the terms of the lease agreement with the new tenant. This is done to ensure that the tenant fully understands their duties and responsibilities as an occupant of the rental property.
The lease should be signed by all adult tenants who will be residing on the property, as well as by the landlord or property manager. It is common practice to have the tenant/s sign the lease contract first.
If the landlord or property manager signs the lease first, sends it to the tenant, and receives no response, they will find themselves in a difficult situation. They won’t be able to lease the property to another tenant, because the first tenant may suddenly arrive with the signed lease.
Generally, the ideal lease signing process should be as follows:
- The landlord or property manager prepares a lease agreement and sends an unsigned copy to the approved tenant.
- The approved tenant signs the lease agreement and then mails it back.
- The landlord or property manager signs the lease agreement. The contract is now binding to both parties.
- Every party who signed the lease agreement receives a copy of the lease agreement.
Keep in mind that the steps above apply only to lease signings that cannot be done in person. It is still recommended to sit with the tenant and to explain to them the terms of the lease.
The Move-in Process
After you select a qualified tenant, it is best to agree on a specific move-in date, as this gives you enough time to make the property “rent-ready”.
During move-in day, spend at least two hours with your new tenant. Use this time to go over the terms and conditions of the lease agreement. If your tenant has children below eighteen years of age, they must be present during move-in day, as this allows you to ensure that they fully understand the house rules.
You may also prepare a handbook, which includes your contact information, phone numbers of police departments, fire stations, etc., disaster preparedness plans, maintenance tips, and so on. If your property has unique appliances, be sure to provide your tenants with a how-to guide.
Don’t forget to prepare an in-depth rental property inspection checklist, which details the condition of the property, including each room. Conduct a walkthrough of the property with the tenant and have them sign into your move-in inspection at the end. The move-in checklist will serve as your reference for when the tenant moves out.
Things to Address Before the Tenant Moves In
#1 The Property’s Condition
Are there any issues on the rental property that need to be addressed? As the landlord, you must ensure that the property is safe and habitable. Structural damages like holes in the wall, safety issues like broken railings, and health issues like mold growth should be remedied before the tenant moves in.
#2 The Property’s Cleanliness
Make sure that the rental property is professionally cleaned. This is especially important if previous tenants were living in the home. After cleaning, don’t forget to conduct a thorough walk-through of the property, checking areas such as underneath the refrigerator, behind the stove, and so on.
#3 Utilities and Fixtures
Don’t start your landlord-tenant relationship on the wrong foot. When a tenant first moves into the property, they expect working utilities. They don’t expect to raise a complaint on the first day. Before your new tenant moves in, make sure that all heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical utilities are operational.
#4 Security Deposit and First Month’s Rent
The security deposit acts as your safety net in the event that the tenant causes damage to the property due to negligence. Similarly, the first month’s rent is a security measure that protects you, the landlord, should a tenant refuse to pay their rent or decides to terminate their lease early. Be sure to ask your property manager about certain exceptions that apply to tenants who receive financial assistance.
#5 Lock Replacements
Never forget to change the locks on your rental property. This includes both door and window locks for the home as well as other structures like storage sheds, guest houses, and so on. This provides your tenant peace of mind, knowing that the old tenant won’t be able to let themselves in at any time. Changing locks will cost you around $20.
#6 Contact Information
This goes both ways. Your tenant should provide you with their updated contact information, and you should provide them the same. This lets them contact you if they have concerns or complaints regarding the property. Be sure to give them multiple options, such as an email address, phone number, etc. If you are working with a Florida property management company, make sure that your tenant has their contact information, as well.
#7 Specific Requests
Some tenants may have specific requests, such as painting the home a certain color, that are more wants than needs. In this case, you will have to decide whether or not to grant the request. If you do, make sure to include a clause in the lease agreement. For instance, if a tenant wants the entire home to be painted white, you may charge them $500 in addition to the rent and other fees.
Keep in mind, however, that there are certain requests that you are legally obligated to accommodate. Consult your property manager to ensure that you remain compliant with federal law.
The lease signing process can be complicated especially since there are legal terms involved. Similarly, the move-in process is an extremely crucial part of the overall rental process, as it will determine the tenant’s liabilities if any.
Consider consulting a licensed attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant laws. At Luxury Property Care, we have a team of in-house attorneys who provide expert advice on all matters related to investment properties. Call us today at (561) 944 – 2992 or fill out the contact form to learn more.