While landlords may want to keep great tenants forever, turnovers are an inevitable part of rental property ownership. Without proper planning, the turnover process can be frustrating for landlords — impacting time, resources, and ultimately, their bottom line. However, property owners who take steps to prepare for turnovers can quickly be ready for their next tenants and minimize lost rental income.
Here are some of the common challenges landlords experience during rental turnovers and the top five tips to ensure rental turnovers go as smoothly as possible.
Keep reading to find out some of the most common issues landlords deal with when a tenant leaves.
Knowing your tenants’ intentions for renewing a lease in advance gives landlords an obvious advantage over those who receive notice at the last minute. While it’s not optimal, some laws only require tenants to provide 30 days notice. To plan ahead, it’s wise to reach out to your tenants at least two months prior to their lease ending to confirm their housing plans.
It’s unfortunately not uncommon for tenants who are vacating a property to leave a mess beyond normal wear and tear. Tenants may leave behind trash, stained carpets, damaged window blinds, or unwanted belongings. Although a security deposit can be withheld to cover the costs of any damages, these messes can be expensive and time-consuming for a landlord to deal with.
Vacancies can be a good time for rental property owners to do a thorough maintenance inspection and make repairs before the next tenant moves in. But, if landlords ignored maintenance during the last tenancy, they will have a lot more work and repairs to take care of before they can rent out the property again. This can cause significant delays in securing a new tenant.
When there has been little notice of a departure and the pressure is on to get the unit ready for a new tenant, landlords may rush through their move-out inspections. That means they may overlook issues, like damaged window blinds or broken light fixtures, which will lead to unhappy tenants or bigger repairs in the future.
To make sure you’re prepared when a tenant gives you notice that they are not renewing their lease, follow these tips:
Experienced landlords know lease language is critical. A lease should outline who is responsible for various maintenance tasks, and how much notice a tenant must provide before moving out. Landlords can also include move-out instructions in the lease to set expectations with tenants from the start. With clearly defined rules, landlords can avoid unnecessary tension with current tenants and keep their property in good shape for the next ones.
Pro tip: Once tenants give their notice, remind them that the move-out instructions are listed in the lease, or print out a move-out checklist so they can easily follow the terms.
Having a system for addressing maintenance issues promptly can help curb tenant dissatisfaction. An important aspect of this is scheduling routine property inspections at least once a year is recommended, and then again upon tenant turnover. While exterior inspections of the property structure and landscaping are usually simple, interior inspections may require more planning and communication. Some states require landlords to give tenants written advance notice if they wish to enter the property, and provide specific reasons they need to conduct an inspection.
Pro tip: As part of the lease, include a clause that allows you the right of entry for a walkthrough or inspection. If your property is in a state that prohibits doing so without a tenant’s advance permission, give tenants as much prior notice as possible. With advance notice, tenants are more likely to cooperate.
As soon as a tenant provides notice, provide a move-out checklist and remind them to review the move-out guidelines and policies included in the lease and discuss any particular concerns for the unit. For example, if the tenant was permitted to paint the walls, specify whether or not they are obligated to restore them to their original color — and be clear about who is responsible for the cost. Likewise, if the tenant needs to fill holes such as those for hanging pictures, that should be included in the move-out checklist. If you require the apartment to be cleaned, be sure to make them aware of those expectations.
Pro tip: Remind the tenant that leaving the rental in an acceptable state with no issues beyond normal wear and tear will increase their chances of receiving a full security deposit refund.
When a tenant has finished moving out, inspect the rental for any damage or mess. Doing a walk-through together with your tenant to confirm the condition of the premises will minimize surprises for both of you. If your lease included a statement of conditions (where the tenant reports any existing damage or issues when they moved in), be sure to reference it together.
Pro tip: By scheduling a final inspection with your current tenant, you’ll avoid surprises around the security deposit after move-out.
One of the final steps to ensure a smooth rental turnover is making sure you promptly meet any post-move-out responsibilities. This may include repainting walls, cleaning the carpets, confirming all appliances and lights work, changing the locks, and putting the utilities bills back in your name. During the vacancy, make sure the lawn is maintained and keep the rental in pristine condition. Quickly addressing maintenance issues and preventing the rental property from falling into disrepair will help you secure a new renter faster.
Pro tip: To speed up your post-move-out responsibilities, create a checklist with all necessary tasks so nothing is overlooked. Assign due dates to each task to help you stay on track. When possible, schedule maintenance before the outgoing tenant moves out to save time.
By following the steps outlined above, landlords will streamline the rental turnover process and minimize the negative any loss of rental income during vacancies. Once the process has been refined, landlords can apply it to all their rental properties.
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