As a property manager or landlord, there are 12 steps you should take in getting a rental property ready to show to new prospective renters. “Rent ready” means the property has been cleaned, repaired, or remodeled and that it’s in rent-able condition for new tenants. Here is a 12-point checklist to make sure your home is rent-ready:
1. Re-key the locks. Change the garage door and alarm codes. Re-key all outside doors. And remember other locks too: mailboxes, side gates, outdoor sheds. Re-keying and recoding locks makes old keys unusable – which is important since you never know who may have a set of your old keys or codes. You won’t need to change them, but make sure you have all HOA-issued gate remotes and codes, plus keys (and codes) to any community pools and fitness centers.
2. Professionally clean the carpets. Professional “full-steam and shampoo” carpet cleaning works best – you don’t want any residue left because it can attract dirt.
3. Spruce up the yard. Cut the grass, trim the bushes, prune the trees, pull the weeds, fix broken sprinkler heads, replace dead or dying shrubbery, and add some new flowering plants (if it’s the season) to flower beds. Remember to remove flower pots, yard furniture and garden decorations; and don’t forget to spray any dirt from the cracks in the sidewalks and patio.
4. Change the air filters. In addition to changing the air filters, cleaning the vents and surrounding ceiling area, it’s not a bad idea to replace any reusable air filters with disposable ones. Disposable air filters don’t require monthly cleaning (like reusable ones) and make for one less maintenance item your tenant needs to remember.
5. Get a professional top-to-bottom interior cleaning. Renters expect their rental property to be clean for move-in, so have the property professionally cleaned. Professional cleaners can get every area of your property clean – from scrubbing the baseboards to cleaning out the refrigerator, no room will be left behind.
6. Let in the light. Replace any broken light bulbs; consider putting in energy-efficient bulbs, which reduce energy costs and don’t need to be replaced as often. (And don’t forget the bulbs outside!) For outside lights that don’t need to be replaced, give them a thorough wipe-down: dirt and debris tend to make these lights dimmer; and when it comes to outside security, brighter is better.
7. Inspect ceiling fans. Make sure that all fans (indoor and outdoor) operate properly and are dust-free. This is especially important if the property is older and hasn’t been inspected in a while.
8. Clean away all webs (cob and spider). Clean all indoor webs that may hang in corners and walls. On the outside, clean all webs that may be near doors, overhangs and lights.
9. Inspect and clean windows and sliding glass doors. Windows and (especially) sliding glass doors can easily build up dirt. A good cleaning will not only let in more light, but may help them work better. When dirt builds up, say, on a sliding door’s slot, it may prevent the door from operating properly. The door can jam and become a costly repair for you.
10. Clean, repair or replace screens. Torn screens can allow pests into your rental property (besides being a security and visual problem). So repairing or replacing screens may save you money (less visits from your pest-control company) and give you peace of mind.
11. Spray for pests. It’s better to have the property sprayed on a regular schedule than to wait until there’s a pest problem. You’ll definitely want to hire a professional pest control company to give your property a full treatment for all of the common bugs in your area.
12. Paint, repair and fix. Fix any holes in the walls before applying a fresh new coat of paint. Repair or replace any carpet that shows signs of damage (or doesn’t come clean after a professional carpet cleaning). Fix or replace any damaged tiles.
By Cynthia Wilson | Angie’s List
Do you love the look of your laminate wood flooring, but worry it’s a health hazard? You’re not alone.
Currently, the best information consumers have to guide them when buying composite wood products are standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The state’s clean air agency requires certain laminate products to comply with its standards limiting formaldehyde emissions. There are no formaldehyde emissions standards for the laminate product itself.
A number of studies have found elevated levels of formaldehyde emissions in homes. However, most consumers weren’t concerned about potential exposure to the cancer-causing chemical from composite wood flooring until “60 minutes” reported its investigations found elevated levels of formaldehyde in some laminate wood flooring imported from China that was sold by discount flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators.
The company disputes the report and says its flooring is safe. It has also offered to pay to test the air quality in the homes of customers who purchased the product.
The EPA says consumers who have laminate flooring in their homes shouldn’t necessarily be concerned because formaldehyde is present in many consumer products, including cabinets, wall finishes and it’s released when consumers use their gas stoves and wood burning fireplaces.
Nonetheless, following these tips from the EPA and health care experts can help you guard your home and health against formaldehyde emissions.
Understand the health risks
According to the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, formaldehyde is a colorless reactive gas used in many consumer products including hair and fingernail products, flooring and furniture. Acute exposure to formaldehyde can cause coughing, wheezing, and asthma-like symptoms, says Dr. Genevieve Brauning, a family practitioner with Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina.
She says long-term exposure to low levels would be most likely to cause asthma-like respiratory problems or skin rash. “There are rarer reports that long-term, low-level exposure can cause headaches, fatigue, and changes in sleep patterns,” Brauning says.
Don’t ignore symptoms
Eye, nose and throat irritation are common ailments among allergy sufferers. But these symptoms may signal exposure to formaldehyde.
If the symptoms are new to you and you believe exposure to formaldehyde is causing these or other respiratory problems, Brauning says to avoid the area for a few days and see if the symptoms resolve.
“This does not necessarily mean that allergy-like symptoms are from formaldehyde, she says. “However, you may look at allergens, including formaldehyde in your home. If you stay at your friend’s house down the street and you feel totally better, it would be less likely from seasonal allergies or spring trees blooming.”
Know when exposure risks are highest
Laminate flooring that is a hardwood plywood, or is made by attaching a wood veneer with formaldehyde-based resin to a composite wood platform, are subject to the EPA’s proposed regulations.
People who make products containing formaldehyde or use the products regularly in their work are more vulnerable to overexposure. That’s why more regulation exists for businesses that work regularly with formaldehyde-based products.
The EPA says formaldehyde emissions are highest when products are new. Because emissions dissipate over time, the agency says the older the floor installation, for example, the lower the levels of formaldehyde it will likely emit.
Buy with care
Environmental health experts say it behooves you to know what’s in the product you use in and around your home to lower your exposure to hazards like formaldehyde, lead and asbestos.
Until the national formaldehyde emissions standards for composite flooring are issued, the EPA recommends you look for products that are labeled or stamped in compliance with CARB’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) or those that meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.
Air it out
It’s hard to avoid bringing any formaldehyde-based products into your home. However, you’re less likely to get skin, nose, throat and lung irritation if you have less concentration of it in your air, Brauning says.
“Having good ventilation or using a mask can be helpful. People should remember that many people tolerate low levels, such as brief exposure to nail polish, without any symptoms at all,” she says.
David M. Brown, Special for The Republic | azcentral.com
For energy savings and comfort in the desert, trees have us covered.
Most Valley residents didn’t attend the Regional Tree & Shade Summit 2.0 in Phoenix on March 9, but a full house of 180 people had their schedules highlighted in green to ensure they were there.
With a keynote address by Dr. Greg McPherson, research forester for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pacific Southwest Research Station in Davis, Calif., the second summit attracted public and private companies and individuals interested in local urban forests, low impact development and increasing the success of tree and shade efforts by cities and property owners.
Benefits to homeowners
Homeowners can benefit from lifestyle enhancement and energy savings by correctly planting trees, said Anne Reichman, CSBA, program manager for the Sustainable Cities Network at GIOS. The event was held at the Downtown Phoenix ASU campus.
For one, trees are important to the health, vitality and beauty of our communities.
“Research shows that the prevalence of trees is linked to safer neighborhoods, less urban heat island effect and increased property values,” she said.
In addition, trees bring people together.
“In speaking with various attendees at the summit, it was amazing how many people had their own stories or memories associated with a special tree or area with trees,” Reichman said. “They provide a connection with the environment, and, more importantly, with other people and experiences within our individual lives. Trees create memories or backdrops for those memories.”
For instance, in his opening remarks to the group, Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise spoke about his home town, Chicago, and its commitment to increasing urban forestry efforts.
And, trees are “solutions multipliers”: “They provide multiple benefits in the area of air quality, removing pollutants from our air, reducing stormwater run-off and energy-related costs in residential buildings and providing valuable shade in our hot desert environment,” Reichman said.
Savings to Phoenix
For instance, the city of Phoenix estimates that trees reduce energy-related costs from residential buildings in the city by $22.9 million annually reduce storm water runoff by 91.7 million cubic feet per year and $6.11 million per year, she said, citing city figures.
“The 3.2 million trees comprising Phoenix’s urban forest are a $3.8-billion asset that provides $40 million in annual services by reducing cooling costs, cleaning the air, reducing stormwater runoff, storing carbon, increasing home sales prices and promoting human health and well-being,” said McPherson, who has studied the value of trees to urban forest planning and management.
“Trees are a valuable asset not for the property owner but the community,” said Richard Adkins, forestry supervisor, city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation. “They are a low-cost, high-yielding investment, supplying environmental, economic and social/health benefits.”
As an investment
For instance, just one correctly planted mesquite tree reaps a 40-year benefit of $2,755 for its energy effects, carbon storage, air-pollutant uptake, rainfall interception, stormwater-runoff reduction and property value increase, McPherson said.
“Trees are an important investment for both cities and residents in that they provide short- and long-term benefits when properly valued, maintained and cared for,” Reichman said.
Phoenix does this through its Master Tree & Shade Plan 2030.
Glendale and Mesa have partnered on a Water Infrastructure Finance Authority to create a Low Impact Development Toolkit for Valley cities to divert stormwater for use in the plants/trees, increasing their long-term survival without the need for irrigation.
The city of Avondale adopted its Street Tree Master Plan in December 2014.
“One of the primary points of the summit was to provide continuing education to those like me tasked with maintaining the urban forest, so our neighbors will benefit knowing that urban foresters have connected and are planning for the future in terms of tree canopy, maintenance, master planning and other components,” said Drew Bryck, the city’s environmental program manager.
Getting them in the ground — correctly
The city of Tempe’s principal planner, architect Bonnie Richardson, said the need for eduction and action in getting trees in the ground now for future generations was a theme of the summit.
“Planting the right tree, in the right place, is a legacy of value as well as beauty,” she said.
The city is completing an Urban Forestry Master Plan & Action Plan.
Trees are often planted incorrectly, however, leading to shorter natural lifespans or issues requiring removal, Reichman said.
To correct this, Salt River Project discussed the benefits of its Shade Tree Program, administered by Valley Permaculture Alliance, which also attended.
The popular program offers up to two free desert-adapted trees to SRP residential customers who attend a 70-minute workshop about how to best plant and care for their new trees.
“Well-placed shade trees can reduce cooling needs by 10 percent by blocking the sun’s rays,” said Lori Rogers, SRP Residential Energy Efficiency Program marketing manager. “The side of the house shaded by the tree can be 10 degrees to 30 degrees Fahrenheit cooler at peak times — all without using a lot of water.
“In addition to saving up to $50 annually on cooling costs, shade trees also add value to customers’ property, produce oxygen to help clean the air, provide a wildlife habitat and reduce stormwater runoff.”
The summit included sessions and discussions on topics including municipal planning, the role of trees in green infrastructure, municipal ordinances, health benefits of trees, biogenic volatile organic compounds, municipal urban forestry planning, species selection, sustainable maintenance and the benefits of structural shade in areas not suitable for tree placement.
The event was hosted in partnership with ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the cities of Avondale, Mesa, and Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix, Inc., the Arizona State Forestry Division, and USDA Forest Service.
Funds were provided by the Urban and Community Forestry Financial Assistance Program administered through Arizona State Forestry — Urban and Community Forestry Program and the USDA Forest Service.
“We loved Dr. McPherson’s comment that trees are the most efficient organism on the planet,” Mesa resident Marquetta White, who attended with husband Bob. “He also pointed out that trees are vital to health, improving our mental, emotional and physical well-being.”
Here are eight ways to help your home put its best face forward.
Homes with high curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell. We’re not talking about replacing vinyl siding with redwood siding; we’re talking about maintenance and beautifying tasks you’d like to live with anyway.
The way your house looks from the street — attractively landscaped and well-maintained — can add thousands to its value and cut the time it takes to sell. But which projects pump up curb appeal most? Some spit and polish goes a long way, and so does a dose of color.
Tip #1: Wash Your House’s Face
Before you scrape any paint or plant more azaleas, wash the dirt, mildew, and general grunge off the outside of your house. REALTORS® say washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sale prices of some houses.
A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding. Power washers (rental: $75 per day) can reveal the true color of your flagstone walkways.
Wash your windows inside and out, swipe cobwebs from eaves, and hose down downspouts. Don’t forget your garage door, which was once bright white. If you can’t spray off the dirt, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate — TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers — dissolved in 1 gallon of water.
You and a friend can make your house sparkle in a few weekends. A professional cleaning crew will cost hundreds — depending on the size of the house and number of windows — but will finish in a couple of days.
Tip #2: Freshen the Paint Job
The most commonly offered curb appeal advice from real estate pros and appraisers is to give the exterior of your home a good paint job. Buyers will instantly notice it, and appraisers will value it. Of course, painting is an expensive and time-consuming facelift. To paint a 3,000-square-foot home, figure on spending $375 to $600 on paint; $1,500 to $3,000 on labor.
Your best bet is to match the paint you already have: Scrape off a little and ask your local paint store to match it. Resist the urge to make a statement with color. An appraiser will mark down the value of a house that’s painted a wildly different color from its competition.
Tip #3: Regard the Roof
The condition of your roof is one of the first things buyers notice and appraisers assess. Missing, curled, or faded shingles add nothing to the look or value of your house. If your neighbors have maintained or replaced their roofs, yours will look especially shabby.
You can pay for roof repairs now, or pay for them later in a lower appraisal; appraisers will mark down the value by the cost of the repair. According to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the national median cost of a new asphalt shingle roof is about $7,600.
Some tired roofs look a lot better after you remove 25 years of dirt, moss, lichens, and algae. Don’t try cleaning your roof yourself: call a professional with the right tools and technique to clean it without damaging it. A 2,000-square-foot roof will take a day and $400 to $600 to clean professionally.
Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots.
Green up your grass with lawn food and water. Cover bare spots with seeds and sod, get rid of crab grass, and mow regularly.
Tip #5: Add a Color Splash
Even a little color attracts and pleases the eye of would-be buyers.
Plant a tulip border in the fall that will bloom in the spring. Dig a flowerbed by the mailbox and plant some pansies. Place a brightly colored bench or Adirondack chair on the front porch. Get a little daring, and paint the front door red or blue.
These colorful touches won’t add to the value of our house: Appraisers don’t give you extra points for a blue bench. But beautiful colors enhance curb appeal and help your house to sell faster.
Tip #6: Glam Your Mailbox
An upscale mailbox, architectural house numbers, or address plaques can make your house stand out.
High-style die cast aluminum mailboxes range from $100 to $350. You can pick up a handsome, hand-painted mailbox for about $50. If you don’t buy new, at least give your old mailbox a facelift with paint and new house numbers.
These days, your local home improvement center or hardware stores has an impressive selection of decorative numbers. Architectural address plaques, which you tack to the house or plant in the yard, typically range from $80 to $200. Brass house numbers range from $3 to $11 each, depending on size and style.
Tip #7: Fence Yourself In
A picket fence with a garden gate to frame the yard is an asset. Not only does it add visual punch to your property, appraisers will give extra value to a fence in good condition, although it has more impact in a family-oriented neighborhood than an upscale retirement community.
Expect to pay $2,000 to $3,500 for a professionally installed gated picket fence 3 feet high and 100 feet long.
If you already have a fence, make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Replace broken gates and tighten loose latches.
Tip #8: Maintenance is a Must
Nothing looks worse from the curb — and sets off subconscious alarms — like hanging gutters, missing bricks from the front steps, or peeling paint. Not only can these deferred maintenance items damage your home, but they can decrease the value of your house by 10%.
Here are some maintenance chores that will dramatically help the look of your house: