Protect Your PropertyMost renters move into a new place with the intention of keeping it clean and comfortable. Who’d want to live any other way?

This mentality is a good thing for a landlord; you have a big financial investment at stake and you’re entrusting it to people who are pretty much strangers.

In order to make it easy for your tenants to meet their expectations and protect your property at the same time, you need to treat their move-in the same way you’d approach a transaction with anyone you handed over the keys to any other part of your kingdom. If you lend your car to someone you tell him what kind of gas it takes, who your insurer is, and give him a heads up about the balky CD player. And you certainly wouldn’t leave a dog-sitter or a plant-sitter, much less a babysitter, alone for the first time without a comprehensive list of contact numbers and dos and don’ts.

Along the same lines, here’s a list of items to give your new tenants, as well as some tips on how to make life easier for everyone involved:

Start Them off Right

Begin with finishes and furnishings that are easy to care for. Your tenant shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of ruining something and then being financially responsible for it.

Floor treatments. Light-colored carpet is a magnet for stains. Even the most careful tenants can’t be faulted if someone spills on it, so why set them up for failure? Think over the flooring in the rest of the house too, especially the kitchen.

Countertops. Even though it’s very popular and considered high end, granite and similar natural materials are prone to staining and some need periodic sealing treatments. On the other hand, inexpensive materials often aren’t heat-resistant and inadvertently leaving a hot pan on them briefly can leave burn marks. Every material has its downside, but it benefits you and your tenants to have countertops that are as durable as possible.

Window coverings. Flimsy blinds don’t stand up to long-term use, and aren’t easy to clean. It’s really not fair to tenants to expect them to maintain these in pristine working condition.

Tell Them What to Watch Out For

In some parts of the country, and in some climates, there are natural occurrences that a tenant should be aware of.

At the beach or in areas with high humidity, for example, mold is a problem. Certain insects and pests are common property issues in other places. While rentals in California, like Lewis Apartments, should review basic earthquake safety and how to anchor furniture with their tenants.

If you take steps to protect your property and empower your tenants with knowledge about what to look out for and how to mitigate problems if they arise, it will benefit everyone.

Give Them Instructions

If the surfaces need special care or cautions, be sure to advise your tenants about them. If you’ve had the tub re-glazed, for example, make sure the tenants know not to use abrasive cleaners on it. You could also give them a move-in kit of specific cleaning supplies if they’re required, and let them know where to purchase replacements when they run out.

Help Them Understand the Appliances

Tenants are less likely to have — or cause — problems if they understand how things work. If there’s any special method to using an appliance, explain it. If you have the original appliance manuals, make copies and put them in binders or sturdy plastic envelopes for your tenants. If you don’t have the manuals, go online and find them; almost all manuals are available at the manufacturers’ websites. It’s also a great help when service is required if you take the time to annotate the manuals with the appliances’ model and serial numbers.

A great resource to share with your tenants is the New Tenant Success Tips Guide that details cleaning and maintenance instructions for renters.

Don’t Expect Them to Deal With Quirks

It doesn’t cut it to tell a new tenant that the refrigerator door closes if you kick it twice, that the doorbell shorts out in the rain but it’s fine after you take a hair dryer to it, or that someone can’t flush the toilet if someone else is running the water in the kitchen sink. It’s your responsibility to make sure that everything is in sound working order and doesn’t require idiosyncratic handling.

Make Sure They Know the Routines

Let your tenants know the regular schedules for trash pick-up and any regular services like gardening and pest control. Make sure they know if they’ve got to make special arrangements for anything, like leaving a gate unlocked or a pet kept in.

Give Them Helpful Resources

Of course you give your tenants a number where you can be reached 24/7 in case of emergency. But it’s also a good idea to give them direct utility numbers for water, gas, and power emergencies. As for non-emergency situations, make it easy for tenants to discuss them with  you. A tenant who is reluctant to call you is one who is going to let small problems escalate.