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    11 Essentials for Your Rental Home Binder

    Hey landlords, military renters love when they walk into a well-kept home with an organized rental binder in plain sight. To them, it indicates you’re invested in the property and securing a positive relationship for the lease term. 

    If you haven’t started a binder yet, it can be as simple as a folder or as elaborate as a colorful Etsy shop purchase, complete with three rings, pockets, and plastic sleeve protectors. What’s important is the information tucked inside. 

    If you add these 11 essentials, you’ll lessen your renters’ worries and save a lot of back-and-forth communication time because you’ve tucked the answers in a neatly arranged binder.

    11 Essentials for Your Rental Home Binder

    1) Landlord’s Communication Information 

    Sometimes it’s challenging to find a military landlord in an emergency, especially if they’re an active-duty servicemember who doesn’t have their cell accessible all day. If you have a preference for how tenants should communicate with you for maintenance requests, let them know. Leave your tenants multiple ways to find you.

    • Cell number
    • Home phone
    • Email
    • Work number 
    • Spouse’s contact information 
    • Property manager info, if applicable

    Get ready for landlord life and read 7 Common Issues Landlords Face and How to Tackle Them.

    Happy young couple getting keys of their new homePhoto by Shutterstock 

    2) Key Collection 

    Security professionals recommend landlords re-key the locks before each tenant, so be sure they have the main doors' current keys. But you also should share the other important keys.

    • Secondary doors
    • Deadbolts
    • Shed/garage
    • Mailbox
    • Fence 
    • Neighborhood pool key or pool fence key

    looking at owners manualPhoto by Shutterstock 

    3) Manuals 

    If your tenants feel prepared to take on regular maintenance and troubleshoot everyday issues that pop up, you’ll field fewer phone calls and pay fewer maintenance fees.  

    • Appliances: laundry, kitchen, HVAC, sump pump
    • Thermostat
    • Garage door 
    • Security system
    • Fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Special cleaning instructions, like for hardwood floors or granite countertops 
    • Septic system

    Good looking handyman fixing a door in a kitchen-1Photo by Shutterstock 

    4) List of the House’s Quirks

    Every house has a couple of quirks, but you’ll have to clue your tenants in so they know how to use the unique door lock system or show them the exact shimmy needed to open the finicky windows. Also include:

    • Sensitive plumbing
    • Access to attic and crawlspace
    • Dehumidifier in the basement 

    Even though it might take some time to assemble your rental home binder, your future tenants will appreciate the investment. Take a look at 5 Positive Traits Military Renters Look for in a Landlord.

    Hand pulling pin of fire extinguisherPhoto by Shutterstock 

    5) Pictures of Important Features

    When an emergency happens, sometimes it's hard to locate the source. If your tenants know where to look, they can minimize the damage

    • Main water turn off/on
    • Electrical box
    • Gas line switch
    • Fire extinguishers

    Man cleaning the gutter from autumn leavesPhoto by Shutterstock 

    6) Home Maintenance and Upkeep Schedule 

    Renters won’t know when you last cleaned the ducts or when the furnace filters were changed. A month-to-month guide providing home upkeep chores mitigates big problems like burst pipes in January.

    • Powerwashing
    • Seasonal lawn care
    • Septic system maintenance 
    • Gutter cleaning
    • Chimney sweep 
    • Winterizing outside pipes and sprinkler systems 
    • Refrigerator filter replacement
    • Smoke and fire alarm battery changes 

    Plumber fixing under the sink in the kitchenPhoto by Shutterstock

    7) List of Trusted Vendors 

    Whether you manage the repairs yourself, hire out, or have a home warranty, your tenants need to know who to contact and the account and phone numbers. If you’re a long-distance landlord, you might consider setting up accounts with important vendors before your tenants arrive in case of an emergency such as a burst pipe.

    • Home warranty 
    • Plumber
    • Electrician
    • Contractor
    • Handyman
    • Pool and lawn service 

    touch up repair supplies like paint are important for tenantsPhoto by Shutterstock 

    8) Touch-Up Repair Supplies 

    If you require your tenants to patch nail holes and repaint, then leave them your exact instructions and the products and matching paint you want them to use. 

    • Suggested drywall patch/filler products 
    • Paint colors and numbers
    • Where to buy the paint 

    Here’s more information about The Ins and Outs of Turning Over a Rental Property.

    leave a list of trusted neighbors and friendsPhoto by Shutterstock 

    9) Trusted Neighbors and Friends 

    In a bind, especially if you don’t live locally, a willing friend or neighbor can be a lifesaver for your tenant, so give them some alternate contact info and support. 

    • Phone numbers
    • Spare house keys

    Female golf player at the coursePhoto by Shutterstock 

    10) Neighborhood Information

    The more neighborhood information you can share, the faster your tenants will settle in and enjoy your home.  

    • Popular coffee shops and restaurants
    • Community events calendar
    • Local pool, tennis, and golf memberships 
    • Neighborhood associations
    • Homeowners Association

    11) Miscellaneous Items

    If you have anything else you’d like your tenants to be aware of, add it to the binder. Even if they don’t use it, future tenants might. Adding a welcome letter is a nice touch, too.

    • Copy of the lease
    • Lead paint inspection certificate 
    • Information on fire safety, how to avoid pest infestation
    • Your state’s landlord/tenant laws 
    • Trash collection dates
    • Internet and cable contact

    As a landlord, you don’t want to overwhelm renters with too many details of the house that aren’t their responsibility. So, pick points important to your mental health and ask they refer to the binder every so often to stay ahead of the needed upkeep in the home. You can also tell them you’ll send occasional emails reminding them of important dates and maintenance. 

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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