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How to Prepare Your Orange County Rental Property for Renters

What do you need to do to get your Orange County rental property renter-ready? We’re sharing the 11 steps you need to take before leasing to new tenants.
how to prepare orange county rental property

Do you know how to get your property ready to rent? 

If you’re an experienced property inverter or a first-time landlord, it’s important to make sure your property is ready for new renters. However, managing all the moving pieces that come with getting your property rent-ready can be challenging.

You need to ensure that your property is visually appealing and safe to live in before tenants move in. You also need to find new tenants and comply with federal, state, and local regulations.

To stay competitive in the Orange County real estate market, your unit needs to be move-in ready before you advertise it and show it to potential tenants.

We’re sharing 11 steps to prepare your rental property for new renters, which will help you decrease your vacancy rates and find the best possible tenants.

11 steps to get your rental property ready for tenants

Whether you’re getting your first set of tenants into a new rental property or you’re getting a unit ready for new tenants to move in, there are some steps you should take to ensure its readiness for renters. 

These 11 steps will help you prepare your property for finding and settling new tenants quickly and efficiently.

1. Ensure all property upgrades and repairs are complete

A landlord’s primary responsibility is to ensure that tenants stay happy and safe in their rental property. One way to do this is to keep the rental secure and fully functional.

To keep your property in its best condition, regular upgrades and repairs should be made. These should be done before new tenants move in and also on a regular basis while tenants are occupying the property.

Investing in preventive maintenance will save money in the long run by getting ahead of potential emergency repairs and avoiding much more costly repairs and vacancies.

Larger renovations to your property will require more time, but if renovations are necessary to keep the property safe, functional, and competitive in the market, it’s wise to complete them while the property is vacant. Be sure to find a team that can execute these renovations as efficiently as possible to keep your vacancy rate as low as possible.

2. Research local laws

Before looking for new tenants, you should read up on the housing and leasing regulations and laws for Orange County and California. Laws are ever-changing, so brushing up on the laws in your area is essential to ensure you are staying compliant. 

For example, there have been changes to how you can increase rent in Orange County, and there is currently a bill in the works that may change how landlords handle pets in Orange County and across the entire state. It’s essential to stay up-to-date with the current laws and regulations to avoid potentially costly fines down the road.

3. Inspect your property for mold

Orange County’s climate is gorgeous and one of the reasons so many people want to rent in the area. However, the average humidity in Orange County is about 79.96%, and one thing that really loves humidity is mold. It thrives in humid climates. 

Mold growth can be tricky to spot, but its effects are apparent and serious. Mold can compromise your property’s structural integrity and have adverse effects on your health as well.

Mold mostly grows in damp places and areas with poor ventilation. It’s critical to check basements, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and wall cavities, as these spaces tend to hold more moisture than other rooms on the property.

Because mold can be difficult to find, hire a professional to conduct a mold inspection. If mold is found, complete all required interventions before showing the property.

4. Check that all appliances are in working order

When you have active tenants, appliances are used daily—from the microwave to the washer and dryer—and experience a lot of wear and tear. 

Before you bring new tenants into your property, it’s a great time to check if all appliances are working as they should be. Also, if any appliances are due for maintenance, schedule them during the vacancy.

Here are a few ways to check some of your appliances before moving in. Contact a professional for further assistance if you notice anything strange when running these tests.

The Dryer
  • Turn on the dryer and make sure it starts. Listen for excessive squeaks or vibrations—this could be a sign of a loose drum belt.
  • Set the timer to 60 minutes or the “Normal” drying cycle. Time how long it takes—if everything is in working order, it should be close to 60 minutes.
  • If the clothes are still wet after 60 minutes, the vent line may need a deeper cleaning.
The Washing Machine
  • Do a load of washing and ensure the machine fills and drains fully.
  • When the machine is running, listen for strange sounds or vibrations—this could be a sign of a loose belt or a problem with the motor.
The Dishwasher
  • Run your dishwasher and see if it fills, drains, washes, and dries your dishes.
  • If you open the dishwasher and the dishes are still wet or dirty, or water is left at the bottom of the machine, call a professional repair person.
The Refrigerator, Freezer, and Ice Maker
  • Open and close the doors to test the gasket seal. You should feel a pull on the door when it’s almost closed.
  • Look for water on the ground or in the refrigerator compartment. This can indicate problems and will require the assistance of a repair person.
  • Check condenser coils for excessive dust—dirty coils can cause your fridge to run hot.
The Water Heater
  • Turn on the hot water at each faucet and check the temperature.
  • Flush the water heater before new tenants move in to avoid water quality problems.
  • Some tankless systems need yearly services to work properly—ensure you adhere to the correct maintenance schedule.
The Kitchen Stove and Oven
  • Turn on each burner or heating element one at a time to make sure it turns on properly.
  • Turn the oven to 400 degrees and place an oven thermometer inside. Ensure it can reach the target temperature.

5. Inspect and service your HVAC system

It can get hot in Orange County. No one wants to find themselves stuck in the middle of a heatwave without a working Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. Inspecting and servicing your HVAC system before new tenants move into your property is essential. 

Here’s how you can test your system before calling in the pros:

  • To test the furnace or heating system, replace all filters if needed. Then, turn the system on and watch the thermostat. The property should heat up to the desired temperature in a reasonable time.
  • If the desired temperature isn’t reached, it’s time to call a professional.
  • To test the air conditioning system, replace all filters if needed. Next, remove the cover of a supply vent—this is where the air comes out. Place a thermometer inside and let the system run for ten minutes before recording the temperature.
  • Repeat the above step with the return vent—where the air is pulled into the AC system. Calculate the difference between the two numbers.
  • The two readings should differ by at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t, it’s time to call a professional.

6. Re-paint the property

Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. Old, peeling paint isn’t a great first impression and may scare away good tenants. 

Painting your property is a great way to give it a fresh look and a clean slate for new potential tenants to envision their lives in your property. For this reason, invest in a neutral color like off-white or light gray.

7. Deep clean and deodorize the property

Before potential tenants enter your property, ensure it has been cleaned and deodorized. Your rental property should be thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom. Pay special attention to kitchens, bathrooms, and toilets, as they’re prone to grease, soap scum, and dirt accumulation. Next, you should fumigate the property to ensure no pest infestations and deodorize it so your new tenants can live comfortably.

8. Advertise and select a tenant

After your property is in tip-top shape, it’s time to look for a new tenant. You can start marketing and advertising your property. You’ll need to show the property, interview tenants, get references and credit checks, and work to find the best tenants for your property. Whatever screening process you use, apply it to all potential tenants to avoid discrimination.

9. Re-key the property or replace the locks

Once you’ve found your new tenants, it’s time to re-key the locks on the property for security purposes. If you aren’t able to re-key, consider changing the locks. This helps ensure that previous tenants don’t have access to the property and gives peace of mind to the new tenants that no one has access to their new home.

10. Write and sign the lease agreement

Now that you’ve found the perfect tenants, it’s time to draft a lease agreement and have all parties sign it. Lease agreements are extremely important—they outline the responsibilities of both landlords and tenants and set out regulations to ensure that everyone meets those responsibilities. It’s wise to have a lawyer review your contract to ensure your interests are being protected.

11. Hire a professional property management company

When renting out your property, the best thing you can do is hire a reliable property management company. When you work with a property management company, their team will handle many of the above steps—from finding tenants, arranging repairs, and even managing the lease agreement. 

You’ll be able to take a lot of the work—and stress!—off your plate while still ensuring your property is rent-ready and your tenants’ needs are met. They’ll not manage your property in between leases; they’ll ensure everything runs smoothly while you have active tenants.

Good Life Property Management: Orange County property management that’s different

At Good Life Property Management, we believe life should be enjoyed, not spent sweating the small stuff. That’s why we set out to make property management easy. We care about you, your property, and your tenant. And we do it all so you can Live the Good Life.

Schedule a call to speak with one of our Good Life experts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are rent prices going down in Orange County, CA?

Rental prices have continued to rise for 13 straight years in Orange County, increasing 3.3% year-over-year. The median rent in Orange County rose by 1.0% throughout May 2024. Orange County’s rent growth over the past year has outpaced both state (-0.9%) and national (-0.8%) averages.

How much rent can a landlord ask for in advance in California?

Up until July 1, 2024, landlords can request two times the monthly rent (or, for furnished units, three times the rent) as a security deposit. But as of July 1, 2024, the limit is changing significantly. Landlords can only request one month’s rent as a security deposit.

What percentage of people rent in Orange County, CA?

The percentage of people who rent in Orange County, California, is 42.89%, according to the most recent Census ACS data (2019).

How much can a landlord raise the rent in Orange County?

California’s Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482) regulates how much landlords can raise rent for their rental properties. This law puts a state-wide limit on rent so that annual increases don’t exceed 5% plus the current rate of inflation, or 10% of the current rent—whichever is lower.
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