Rent Sense: How Important is the Physical Condition?
By Neil Fjellestad & Chris De Marco
FBS Property Management
Physical condition of a rental property can tell a lot about the owner’s general management philosophy. A well-maintained property tends to indicate a conscientious property manager and a financially responsible owner.
• A rental home that is not clean and in good condition often indicates that the owner is not willing and/or capable of keeping it up. A rent-ready home attracts a better qualified applicant. Makes good business sense, right so why is the rental being shown if it is not ready to move into?
• In this competitive market, the rental home should be presentable. If it is not and it is being shown, does that mean that your rent and/or deposit needs to be collected before it can be fixed up? What kind of tenants did this property attract before you? Why was it allowed to get into this condition? Who is going to do the repairs, painting, cleaning, etc. that are needed? When is this work scheduled? These questions will create a conversation that will likely confront issues and concerns that need satisfactory resolution before you move forward.
• How you are treated during this conversation might tell you the kind of respect and customer service you can expect during your residency. Is this commensurate with the rent (one-third to one-half of your household income) that you are being asked to pay?
• Is the move-in experience and making you happy in your new home important to the owner and/or manager showing you the rental home?
• Does a qualified application seem important to the owner and/or representative showing you the home?
• Is there effort to explain the lease documentation to the extent that you are confident about the following:
o There is a set procedure to inspect the physical condition at move-in and move-out.
o There are routine procedures to accomplish regular maintenance, service or repair requests and emergency issues.
o You have been educated about how to operate appliances, systems, etc. inside the home.
o You are clear about exterior maintenance, responsibilities, tools, costs, etc.
o If this is a condo, you’re clear about use privileges and responsibilities within common areas (examples: parking, pool, mail area, gym, business center).