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How to Prepare a House for Rent

Kathy Fettke

Kathy Fettke


How to Prepare a House for Rent – Videos 1-10

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Video 1 Transcript

Speaker: I wanted to start with just reminding everyone that in different parts of the country, this could be different because in Florida, for example, they don’t use this many asphalt shingle roofs as we do in Ohio. We use them because we have both hot and cold temperatures and they last the longest. We’re looking to put on a roof or you should be looking to put on a roof that’s going to last at least 25 years. That’s why you’re making that capital investment.

What needs to be addressed about every 5 to 10 years are the ancillary products that go with that roof. That’s the gutters, the trim around the chimney, or it’s called the drip edge, and the boots or the rims that go around the soil pipes and the vents in the roof because typically, those are made of rubber and rubber doesn’t have quite that links or life that the shingles do. You want to make sure that as part of your plan to rehab the property and then, maintain it, is you’ve got a plan that in five to 10 years you’re checking on those items to make sure that your property is remaining dry as it should be.


Video 2 Transcript

Speaker: Next we look at windows, and I know a lot of us think that it’s to make the home look nicer, but the first thing that we’re looking at when we’re looking at our windows is the reducing the electric cost and the utility cost for our tenants, because we know after being landlords as long as we have that a tenant will pay their utility bill and not pay their rent. We try to help them be responsible by making the home as weather tight as possible, and that’s making sure that all of the windows and doors have a double pane window in them, if they have glass.

We prefer double hung vinyl window because that allows them to clean the windows very easily or you when they move out, and then vinyl because it doesn’t require painting in the future. Unless we’re in a historic district we don’t allow any single pane windows and we replace or remove storm windows, because again we know that a double pane window is going to reduce the utility cost and help them pay us in the future.


Video 3 Transcript

Speaker: Next, we look at central heating and air. I know that in many part of California, for example, they don’t have to have both of those items. For us, we look at the age and condition and brand of each of these items. Starting with the furnace, we make sure that a furnace is over 15 years old and younger than that depending on the brand that we automatically replace it as part of the rehab because we know at 14 they’re going to start failing.
If it fails with the tenant inside the property, then the tenant isn’t going to be happy if it’s 10 degrees below zero and they don’t have any heat. We look at the type of furnace that’s installed, and then the age, and then automatically replace it as part of the rehab.

Next, we look at air conditioning. We know that homes less than $80,000 typically in neighborhoods that are more prevalent to copper theft. That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad neighborhood, it means there’s just more people looking in those areas. We don’t install air conditioning in those areas. What we do when we don’t put an air conditioning is we setup the home’s electric underneath the window properly grounded and we install ceiling fans in. What we found is after about a year, the tenant started bringing their own air-conditioning units, the window-type units and they made a very smooth transition.

In those homes more than $80,000, at least in the Ohio marketplace, we install central air, again, if it’s over 14 years old, we automatically replace it with the proper size. We go ahead and build a cage around the air-conditioner to help it keep from being stolen. Regardless of the price range of the home or neighborhood. What our police officers have told us is if you cage the air-conditioning unit in anyway, it’s going to deter the thief and they’re going to the next property and not take all the energy that it’s going take to remove the copper from your property.

Lastly, with both the furnace and air-conditioning, we plan to service them at least once every two years. In that process, every time we re-rent the property, we put three new filters at the home and put dates on them so that the tenant knows, this is the date we’re supposed to change the filter.

The other thing it does for us is if we get a service call on the furnace or air conditioner and they still have the original furnace filter in from when they moved in a year ago, then we know that we can hold the tenant accountable because they haven’t done the maintenance that they’ve been required to do to the property. We ask them to sign when they lease the property to let us know that they know they’re responsible every 30 days to change the furnace filter. Again, to help them out, we go ahead and provide three of them for them.


Video 4 Transcript

Speaker: Next we’re going to talk about plumbing. Toilets are important items as part of the plumbing. First, you want to think about the kind of water lines that are in the property. If it’s not copper, PEX or CPVC, then you may want to consider having those items changed. We know that PVC gets brittle and breaks very easily and we know that copper will also split with the change of temperature if it hadn’t been properly drained.We use what’s called PEX or CPVC for all of our water plumbing needs.

Next, you have to look at the drains. Many times you’ll find in older homes that there’s galvanized plumbing in place. We know that galvanized deteriorates from the inside and although it may look perfect, on the inside it’s completely deteriorated. We completely remove all galvanized plumbing from the property and replace it with the PVC or CPVC drain lines.

Next, we look at faucets because that seems to be the third most common issue that we have for maintenance with tenants. What we found after a number of years that we went to the big-box store and bought their cheapest–


Video 5 Transcript

Speaker: Next we’re talking about electric. This is probably the largest part of any of our budgets when we are repairing a property. Most importantly is to bring the property first to current code which means you’re eliminating any fuses or items that are going to cause life safety issues in your future because that would then be a liability for you.

In many parts of the country, they’re doing two different kinds of breakers now. There’s ground fault interrupter breakers and there’s now arc faults. You really need to check with your current code, arc faults are a little more expensive that in many areas but it’s what the cities are demanding. Next, you need to make sure that you have adequate service and that means making sure your breaker panel has enough amperage to handle the needs of a family that would live in that property plus the appliances and furnaces and the air conditioning.

Again, otherwise, that becomes a life safety issue. Then just on a very basic level making sure you’re meeting the HUD standards which means there’s an outlet in every room and anywhere there’s water, there’s a GFI. In this picture, you can see that a ground fault interrupter or a GFI plug which you’re required to install any time you’re within six feet to water.


Video 6 Transcript

Speaker: After maintenance, if you have a tenant turnover, we found our most expensive item that we have is flooring. Because of that, we have some pretty strong opinions and standards on the products that we think you should use. We don’t use any sheet vinyl whatsoever in any of our homes unless of course the home has been pre-capped by Fannie Mae and they’ve installed new.
In that situation, we’ll leave it knowing that in the future we’re going to need to replace it. Any time you have a tenant bring their stove or refrigerator, they’ll move that appliance in and they’ll carry the sheet vinyl and the rest of the floor may look nice but all around the stove and refrigerator, they carry the vinyl.

We went with more durable products like ceramic tile or the product that’s my absolute favorite right now is luxury vinyl tile. Luxury vinyl tile is a plank flooring that looks like laminate or a pergo-type flooring, but it’s a full thickness vinyl. It looks like wood or you can also buy it looking like ceramic tiles but basically what we use is this product that looks like wood. It’s easy to install. It’s about three times more expensive than pergo and about the same cost as a ceramic tile depending on installation.


Video 7 Transcript

Speaker: This is my absolute best cosseting chip that we have. These are the quick set Master locks systems. We found early on especially in our apartment buildings, people had a tendency to forget their keys or lock them out. What I discovered is if you use a deadbolt and this is not a double deadbolt, it’s a storm latch on the inside and a deadbolt on the outside, that the tenants always had to have their keys to get into the property. What we use is a deadbolt and a passage lock.

A passage door knob is the same thing that you would have on a closet. It doesn’t even have a storm latch which means in order for the tenants to lock their door, they have to lock it from the outside with their key and they never lock themselves out. The second best part is, in the past, most homes have two to five doors. We used to put a passage lock on the bottom and a deadbolt on the top which means there could be as many as five sets or two locks to change. We would take those to the local locksmith keyed with him to another key. We would have to take him off and put him back on and it would cost anywhere from $150 to $200.


Video 8 Transcript

Speaker: Next, It seems very logical but it’s important to have good paint. Good paint means it’s not the stuff that you’re buying at department stores, the cheapest stuff that you can, but we’ve actually worked with Sherwood Williams which is the brand that we use to come up with a very durable plank paint that we use in every home. We use ceiling white on every ceiling, nothing with a gloss or semi-gloss and then what we call a egg shell finish on the entire rest of the home. It’s that Pro Mar 400 that we found works the best.

Now you’ll notice that we have two different colors there. Sherwood Williams calls it practical beige which doesn’t sound very marketing-ish. When I’m marketing and telling our tenants what color our walls are we call them Mocha Latte because that’s a much better sales technique than practical beige. Then we paint all of the trim and interior the semi-gloss white. We know that semi-gloss will last through at least two tenants with very little touch up if we paint them with the semi-gloss paint versus a flat or an egg shell. We use the same paint over and over and over again many times if the tenant doesn’t it stays–


Video 9 Transcript

Speaker: What else can we look at? We look at insulation. Whether you’re in a cold climate or a worm climate, it’s very important to make sure that the property is at least adequately, if not over adequately insulated, because it goes back to keeping the tenant in your property. The tenant will pay their electric bill and their gas bill, and not pay their rent. If you make sure your home is properly insulated, then your tenant has a greater chance at being successful.

Next, we look at landscaping. Our communities like there to be mulch beds as a minimum on every home. That gives the tenants the opportunity to plant flowers. With many of our homes we find that if we create those nice places, and just use whatever kind of mulches is good to your location– we use a wood chip, then the tenants will plant flowers and the home looks very lived in and looks like home.

Because we do all of the landscaping, we’re looking at going around the perimeter with weed killer, and definitely around all of the fences if there are fences. Preparing the home so that if the tenant is not a great lawn cutter, then the home still looks good for the next couple of years.


Video 10 Transcript

Speaker: Always remember your life safety issues that when you have a home that’s being rehabbed to make sure hand rails are in the right place. Balancers can be no more than four inches apart and handrails have to be reached 34 inches tall. Remember stairs have to be uniform and that if there’s more than that 36 inches then there has to be steps that have to be added, and remembering to remove all trip hazard because those are the things that cause liability, which is making sure your sidewalks are flat. Anything over a quarter inch they say can be a trip hazard.

Next, making sure that every home has life safety. Smoke detectors need to have one on every level as a minimum of one of the basement. There has to be one in every bedroom at least 10 feet from the door and one in every attic space. Remember if there’s a hallway, you need to have one at least in the hallway in addition to the one in every bedroom.Never ever put them in the kitchen because they go off anytime someone looks like I do.

Next life safety is carbon monoxide detectors and making sure that they’re placed properly which is at least five feet above the floors and away from the fireplaces and close to the sleeping areas to make sure that if there is carbon monoxide in the–


Kathy Fettke
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