1. Effectively Manage the Move-Out Process
Ideally, the move-out process begins when people move in. With a clear lease, you state your expectations in black and white. For example, you may require a tenant to provide 30-60 days notice (in writing) when they plan to move out. This gives you time to find and vet a new tenant and prepare the unit.
Now, if a tenant moves out early, that’s fine. It’s great, in fact, as it gives you more time. However, if a new tenant moves in before the end of your notice period, you need to return a portion of the previous tenant’s rent. By law, you cannot accept rent for the same unit from two separate parties at the same time.
2. Conduct a Move-Out Inspection
Wouldn’t it be nice if tenants left their units in the exact same condition they were in upon move-in? Alas, many leave items behind, including furniture they didn’t want or couldn’t move. You are left with the responsibility - and cost - of disposal. Before a tenant’s move-out is complete, do a walk-through. Make sure to document the process, along with any items left behind and any damages incurred. You cannot deduct normal wear and tear from the security deposit - but some tenants go way above and beyond in terms of the mess they leave.
Prepare a checklist and go through the unit. Take photos and keep this documentation.
3. Return the Security Deposit
The last thing you want is to discover damage after you’ve returned the security deposit. Typically, you have 30 days in which to return the deposit: use it! Get a forwarding address and plan to mail the check after your move-out inspection.
Remember, you cannot withhold the deposit for normal wear and tear and other unwarranted reasons. Make sure your lease spells out the terms clearly. If you must withhold all or part of the deposit, document the costs so you can send an itemized reconciliation to the tenant.
4. Tackle Transition Maintenance Tasks
Take the opportunity to get the unit into top shape:
- Clean. Scrub, vacuum, mop, dust… no one wants to move into a dirty, grimy unit.
- Paint. A fresh coat will do wonders and offer your new tenant a fresh start.
- Schedule maintenance and repairs. If there’s a leaky faucet, fix it. A broken lock, replace it. Test your plumbing and electrical systems and make sure they’re all in working order.
- Change the locks. Even if the tenant claimed to give you all their keys, it is important to put the security of your new tenant first (and limit your liability).
- Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- If your detectors are hardwired, check their expiration date. If they have reached the end of their life (usually ten years), replace them.
- Take care of any outstanding issues. This includes resealing windows, replacing outdated appliances, ensuring walkways are in good repair, etc.
- Prepare for the new tenant. Take pre-move-in photos and document the condition of the unit.
5. Start Fresh
It is also a good time to review your lease agreements; it is smart to consult with an attorney just to be on the safe side. Make sure your language is clear and unambiguous. You can start fresh with this new tenant - and this includes focusing on what they need to live comfortably and safely. This impacts your bottom line, after all.
Collect a security deposit and the first month’s rent before the tenant moves in, giving yourself time to cash the check and see if there are any issues with funds. After they move in, the relationship becomes much more complicated, and it is harder to get out of a situation in which you have a deadbeat tenant.
Owning or running a rental property involves a great deal of work. There is plenty to do - even, and especially when you are between tenants. The team at Asheville Phoenix Properties is here to help you ensure everything runs smoothly, that you minimize vacancies, and that you maximize rental income. With professional property management services, maybe you can even take that vacation you’ve been thinking about! Give us a call today.