Before a lease can be signed, there are several essential steps to follow. Also, there are several additional steps to consider once the lease is signed. Learn more about this process below to help navigate your first lease signing in Harrisburg as a new landlord. We will discuss what a good lease should look like, the process for getting a contract signed and how to continue excellent service post lease signing.
What Should a Harrisburg Lease Include?
- The name(s) of tenants
- Length and terms of the tenancy
- Rent cost, security deposit cost, and any additional monthly fees
- Policy for entering the property
- Maintenance policies
- Limit on occupancy
- Rules on smoking, illegal activity, and other grounds for eviction
- Showings – Once your property is clean, rent ready, and ready to market, it is time to start conducting tours! The best bet to get a lease signed quickly is to use as many rent listing sites like Zillow as possible and try to shoot for at least one showing a day, if not more. The more showings and interested parties, the less chance for a long sitting vacancy.
- Rental Application – Once you have an interested party, have them fill out a rental application. You will need to require income information, rent references, and any other pertinent information.
- Screening – Have a screening service ready to run background information on the prospective tenant(s). The application screening process should include income verification, a criminal background check, credit, and any prior eviction history.
- Prepare the Contract – Once a screened tenant comes back cleared and qualified, it is time to prepare the contract and send it to them to sign. The lease is a legally binding document that includes information like rent payment, pet fees, the grace period for late payment, and other rules of living on the property. Have a property management company or real estate lawyer help draw up a lease to be sure everything is covered.
- Lease Signing – Have all tenants (apart from children) sign the lease. Even if just one tenant is paying the rent, any roommate or significant other still needs to sign and have a background check run beforehand, just like the primary leaseholder.
- Collect Funds – Once all parties sign the lease, it is time to collect the necessary funds for move-in. Collect the first month’s rent and a security deposit (usually the same around as one month’s rent) and any other fees like a pet deposit and utility fees.
The Lease is Signed, Now What?
As previously mentioned, the work isn’t over after the lease is signed. Follow these additional guidelines to ensure a positive move-in and good landlord/tenant relationship.
Provide a detailed move-checklist for your tenants to complete upon move-in; this should be returned within seven to 10 business days. The checklist allows the new tenant to walk their new property and note any pre-existing damages. In addition to providing tenants the opportunity to record any issues that exist in the property, the checklist also provides a reference point for a move-out inspection and security deposit disposition.
After receiving the checklist back, it is vital to fix any significant issues and ensure the home is functioning correctly. Doing so will please the tenant and make them more likely to renew. There shouldn’t be much if anything at all to fix, assuming a turnover was done well between tenants. Some examples of checklist items are below:
- Holes or scuffs on any walls
- Issues with appliances
- HVAC issues (address these issues immediately)
- Broken locks on doors or windows (another emergency fix)
- Carpet or floor stains or damage
Continue being an excellent communicator throughout the lease to maintain a high chance of renewal. You don’t need to be available to the tenants 24/7, however, be quick to respond to questions or concerns. You should also have an emergency line so that tenants can report emergency maintenance issues after hours and on weekends. Emergency maintenance concerns should be addressed immediately, and all non-emergency maintenance should be dispatched within 48-hours.
Consider Hiring a Property Management Company
When in doubt, hire a Harrisburg PA Property Management Company. Hiring a property management company is advisable for landlords/property owners that need help with anything from lease signing to maintenance and managing the property. Also, a local property management company can assist with rent collection and eviction services.