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Ready to Rent: A Checklist for Landlords

How do you know if your property is ready to rent? The short answer is that first, the property must be safe. Second, everything should be in good working order. And third, the place should be sparkling clean. Here is our checklist for each of these three areas—safety, repairs, and cleaning. Go through this list, and when you have completed all items, your property is ready to rent! (Read also: 4 Things You Need To Do Right Now To Start Renting Your Property).

Landlord Safety Check List

Two Forms of Exit

There must be at least two ways to leave the premises in the event of a fire or other emergency. It can be windows or doors, but the windows have to be big enough for an adult to get through.

Smoke Detectors

Make sure smoke detectors are installed and working. If they are battery-operated, the batteries should be replaced every six months. Check with your county ordinances on smoke detectors in rental properties. For example, Fairfax County, Virginia requires that landlords install a smoke detector inside each bedroom as well as one outside of each sleeping area near the bedrooms. They also require that each inhabited floor has a smoke detector, including the basement. Google your county and state’s laws on smoke detectors in rental properties to see what you are required to do.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Virginia does not require landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors, but 27 states and the District of Columbia require carbon monoxide detectors in private dwellings. You can see which states are affected here.

Mold Detection

Mold can pose a serious health threat to tenants and cause expensive damage to your property. Inspect your property thoroughly anywhere there is moisture including the bathrooms, sinks, basement, and attic. Though not all mold has a detectable scent, smell the walls in the bathroom and basement. If it smells musty, you may have mold. (More on mold detection and prevention.)

Lead Paint

In buildings constructed before 1978, you’ll need to test for lead paint. Lead paint is dangerous because it forms dust as it deteriorates which is toxic, especially to children under six years old. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) requires that professional painters or contractors hired to remove lead paint are certified by the EPA (or an EPA authorized state) in lead paint removal.

Stair Railings

All interior and exterior hand railings should be sturdy and in good working order.

Check with your city or county for landlord laws specific to your area. In Virginia, you can find everything you need to know in the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Landlord Repairs Check List

Everything in the rental unit should be in good working order including heating, plumbing, electric, ventilation, air conditioning, and appliances. No matter who pays the utilities on the property, they should all be working.


Make sure all faucets and drains are functioning properly. Flush the toilet several times to make sure it is working.


Change the air filters. Turn on the heat and check every vent for any blockages. Test how long it takes to start and how long it takes to heat the space.


Check that every outlet, light switch and overhead light and ceiling fan are working. Replace any bulbs or bad wiring.

Ventilation and Air Conditioning

If you are providing air conditioning, make sure the unit(s) are blowing cold air and working properly. Check for leaks and add Freon if needed. (Read more: Troubleshooting Common Air Conditioner Blower Problems)


Protect yourself from liability and get the locks re-keyed or replaced before a new tenant moves in. You don’t want a former tenant to have access to the property.


Check that the windows are working and the glass isn’t cracked or broken. Be sure that the windows lock securely. Repair or replace any screens.


Repair any holes in the walls, and repaint. When a tenant moves out is the perfect time to freshen up the place with fresh paint. Bright, clean walls are more attractive to prospective tenants and show your property in its best light.


Check tile for missing grout and wood floors for any damage. Replace or repair as needed.


How does the property look from the outside? Are the shrubs in need of a trim? Does the lawn need to be mowed? Are their weeds and debris? Clean up the yard for curb appeal.

Landlord Cleaning Checklist

It’s best to have a top-to-bottom interior cleaning done by professionals who can deep clean every area of the rental property. If you want to do it yourself or give the cleaners a checklist, here are the areas on which to concentrate.


The stove top, oven, microwave, and refrigerator should all be spotless. Cabinets and drawers should all be free from debris. If the cabinets and drawers have shelf liners (or contact pager), replace them. The kitchen floor should also be scrubbed to sparkling.


Sinks, bathtubs, showers, tile, faucets and floors should be immaculate.


Have the carpets professionally cleaned or replaced. No one wants to move into a home with dirty carpets.


Ditto for floors. Make sure yours are faultless.

Windows & Sliding Glass Doors

Clean windows let in more light and make the whole place look brighter than dirty windows. Put a shine on them.


Call a professional exterminator or spray pesticide yourself before the tenant moves in. Bugs bring problems, so keep them out.

Now that your property is ready to rent, you’ll need tenants. Read: How to Market Your Property and How to Choose the Right Tenants. If you want professional help marketing your property and finding tenants, we are experts and happy to help. Contact us.

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