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7 key steps to follow during the tenant onboarding process

new tenants receiving keys
by Jeff Rohde, posted in Investment Strategy

Landlords and rental property owners have a lot on their plates. Not only do they need to worry about finding quality tenants, but they also need to ensure the tenant onboarding process goes as smoothly as possible. This process is vitally important, as it can set the tone for the entire tenancy.

In this post, we’ll explain what tenant onboarding is and why it’s so important. We’ll also provide tips on making the process go as smoothly as possible.

Key takeaways

  • The tenant onboarding process is important for setting the tone for the rest of the relationship between landlord and tenant.
  • The tenant onboarding process is a chance for the landlord to set the criteria, expectations, and rules for the tenancy.
  • The onboarding process should establish clear communication channels between landlord and tenant.
  • Ultimately, the onboarding process aims to create a positive relationship between landlord and tenant that will last throughout the tenancy.

What is the tenant onboarding process?

The tenant onboarding process is when a landlord meets with a new tenant to go over the rental property’s rules, obligations, and regulations. This is usually done at the lease signing but can also be done during an initial walk-through of the property.

Here’s an example of how the tenant onboarding process works. First, talk with your new tenant about your expectations for rent payments, pet policies, cleanliness, guests, parking, noise level, and any other house rules you have. It’s important that they understand what is expected of them from the start.

Next, give them a tour of the property and point out any areas that are off-limits or require special care (for example, the water heater or breaker box). Finally, go over the lease agreement with them and ensure they understand everything. Once everything is settled and signed, welcome your new tenant to their new home.

Why your tenant onboarding process is important

When you’re a landlord, it’s important to have a good tenant onboarding process in place. Not only does this help to ensure that your tenants can move into their new home smoothly, but it also helps to protect your property and avoid any potential problems down the road. Here are just a few of the benefits of having a good tenant onboarding process:

For tenants, the onboarding process is an opportunity to get to know their new landlord and ask any questions they may have about the property. It’s also a chance to review the lease agreement and ensure they understand the terms and conditions.

For landlords, the onboarding process is an opportunity to review the rules and expectations with new tenants. It’s also a chance to collect important documents like identification and contact information. By having a thorough onboarding process, landlords can help to ensure that their tenants are prepared to take on the responsibility of renting their property.

Overall, the tenant onboarding process can be a win-win for both landlords and tenants. By taking the time to review everyone’s expectations and responsibilities, you can help ensure that you and your new tenant have a positive experience.

Key steps to follow when onboarding a tenant

When you onboard a tenant, you’re essentially setting the tone for the rest of the tenancy. By having a system in place, you’re making it clear that you’re organized and professional. This sets the stage for a successful landlord-tenant relationship.

Here are the key steps to follow to onboard a tenant:

1. Schedule an in-person meeting

This is an important step in building a good rapport with your tenant. During the meeting, you can go over the lease agreement, hand over keys, and conduct a walk-through of the property. You can also use this opportunity to answer any questions the tenant may have.

There are several reasons why scheduling an in-person meeting with your tenant is important as part of the onboarding process. First, it’s a great opportunity for you to get to know each other and establish a rapport. This can be helpful down the road if you need to communicate about any issues that may arise.

Second, an in-person meeting is a chance for you to go over all the important details of the rental agreement. This includes necessary information like the move-in date, rent amount, when it’s due, how repairs will be handled, and the expectations for noise levels and quiet hours. By going over these details in person, you can be sure that your tenant understands them and knows what to expect.

Finally, an in-person meeting gives you an opportunity to show your tenant around the property. This is a chance to point out things like the location of the fire extinguisher, where the fuse box is, and how to use the thermostat. By taking the time to show your tenant around, you can help them feel more comfortable in their new home.

2. Get all the necessary paperwork in order

Before the tenant moves in, be sure to collect all the required documents you may not already have, such as a completed rental application and a copy of their photo ID. You should also have a signed copy of the lease agreement on hand.

Having everything in order will help you to avoid future problems. For example, if there is a problem with the lease, you can go back and reference the original document. 

In addition, having all of your paperwork in order will give your tenants confidence in your abilities as a landlord. They will know that you are professional and take your responsibilities seriously. As a result, they are more likely to abide by the terms of their lease and take care of your property.

3. Set up utilities and other services

Ensure the utilities have been transferred into the tenant’s name before moving in. This includes electricity, gas, water, trash service, and internet/cable. You may also want to set up services provided by the landlord, such as lawn care or snow removal service, if applicable.

two men inspecting a house

Keep in mind that landlords of single-family rentals and small multifamily properties may have different responsibilities when it comes to utilities and services. In general, tenants in single-family homes are responsible for their own utilities, while in some multifamily buildings, landlords may pay for some utilities that are on a master meter, then include those costs in the rent.

4. Inspect the property

Once the tenant moves in, conduct a thorough inspection of the property and complete a move-in checklist together. A move-in inspection is a visual examination of a rental unit before a tenant moves in. The inspection should be conducted with the tenant present, and the landlord should note any existing damage to the unit. The landlord should also provide the tenant with a copy of the inspection report.

The best practices for conducting a move-in inspection include conducting the inspection with the tenant present, taking photos or videos of the unit, making a list of any existing damage to the unit, and providing the tenant with a copy of the inspection report.

Some items that should be included on a move-in inspection checklist are:

  • Doors and windows – check for cracks and holes
  • Floors – check for scratches, stains, or other damage
  • Walls – check for cracks, holes, or discoloration
  • Ceiling – check for cracks, holes, or signs of leaks
  • Light fixtures – check for missing parts and ensure that each fixture has a working bulb
  • Plumbing fixtures – check for leaks or other damage that could create mold or mildew
  • Appliances – check for damages or missing parts
  • Smoke detectors – check for missing batteries or other damage

After the move-in inspection is complete, the landlord should provide the tenant with a copy of the inspection report. The tenant should review the report and ensure all damages are noted. If the tenant disagrees with anything on the report, they should contact the landlord or property management company to discuss their concerns.

5. Have a plan for maintenance and repairs

Things will inevitably come up that need to be fixed or maintained throughout the tenancy. Be sure to have a plan in place for how you will handle these issues when they arise.

Some landlords set up a phone number where they can be reached 24/7 in case of an emergency, while others use property management software with a tenant portal for submitting repair and maintenance requests.

6. Make sure your tenant has renters insurance

Renters insurance is a type of insurance that covers a tenant’s personal belongings and liability in the event of damage or theft. Requiring potential tenants to have renters insurance (if allowed by local and state landlord-tenant laws) can benefit both the landlord and the tenant by providing protection against possible financial losses.

For the landlord, requiring renters insurance can help to reduce the risk of being sued for damages caused by the tenant. For the tenant, having renters insurance can help to offset the cost of replacing damaged or stolen belongings.

7. Put together a welcome package for your tenant

A welcome package for a tenant is a collection of items that make up a care package of sorts, meant to help your new tenant feel comfortable in their new home. It’s kind of like a housewarming present, but from you – their landlord.

This important part of the tenant onboarding process is a way to introduce yourself and your contact information, welcome your new tenant to the neighborhood, and make them feel at home in their new space. So, what should be included in a tenant welcome package?

A welcome letter or note is always a nice touch. You could also include an introduction to the area guidebook, local maps, business cards for recommended service providers, and coupons for nearby businesses.

Whatever you include, just make sure it’s personal and tailored to your tenant’s needs – it’ll go a long way in making them feel at home.

Final thoughts

A tenant onboarding program is important for both a landlord and a tenant because it helps ensure the transition into the rental property goes smoothly. By completing this process, both parties can avoid any misunderstandings or problems down the road.

In addition, going through the onboarding process can help to build a good relationship between a landlord and tenant from the start.

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