Move-Out Tips That Save Landlords Money

by Chris on October 9, 2017

Ever had a good tenant move out and leave a mess? No matter how well you screen your tenants or manage the property, the move-out process can break down, and the landlord has to scramble to restore the unit and get it back into service to avoid income loss.

One successful strategy for reducing losses is to understand that the move-out doesn’t occur on the last day of the tenancy — that process begins much earlier.

Here are some tips that can help prevent last-minute losses:

Did you write down the date that the lease ends? Double-check that date on the tenancy agreement. Memory can be unreliable, especially if months or years have passed since the tenant moved in.

Speak with the tenant at least 30 days before the end of the lease to remind them that the lease is ending. If the tenant objects and you are not going to renew, or if the tenancy agreement says so, it may be necessary to serve a notice on the tenant.

Determine if the property will be leased out again immediately or whether this is a good time to plan a short vacancy in order to make any needed repairs or upgrades. Advertise the vacancy a month ahead so that prospective tenants can give notice to their landlords.

Provide a move-out cleaning checklist to the exiting tenant. The move-in inspection report may suffice, but if the tenant has a list of what needs to be cleaned, it’s more likely that the unit will be returned in good condition. Offer to do a preliminary walk-through and explain what the tenant has to do in order to get the full deposit back and avoid any liability.

Prequalify all interested prospects responding to the rental ad. Only show the property to qualified applicants. Be respectful of the current tenant’s privacy and stay with any prospect touring the property.

Provide the exiting tenant with resources that can streamline the move. Helpful tips include how to switch utilities, reputable carpet or apartment cleaning services, how to dispose of large items, and where to place trash.

Conduct a move-out inspection and write up a move-out condition report once all of the tenant’s belongings have been removed. The inspection report form may be available from your local residential tenancies office. Ask the tenant to make any notes and sign the condition report. Obtain the tenant’s new address.

Discuss any deficiencies with the tenant and attempt to resolve any disputes over security deposit deductions before either party files a claim for dispute resolution.

Determine what rules must be followed in order to deduct any damages from the security deposit. For instance, it may be necessary to file a claim for dispute resolution and receive an order before taking deductions. Return any undisputed portions of the security deposit within the time provided by local law or the tenancy agreement, whichever is sooner.

Begin the new tenancy by providing a move-in condition report. Leave that report with the new tenant and ask them to note any additions within a week to ten days — while there is still time to pursue damages against the previous tenant.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Dunford October 10, 2017 at 11:11 am

In Ontario, we are not allowed to ask for a deposit other than last months rent.

How do we encourage our renters to leave the unit clean and damage free if we do not have any money we can hold back for repairs etc?

Jennifer October 11, 2017 at 10:51 am

Robert Dunford asked the question that I keep asking myself…how do landlords from Ontario protect themselves from damage to their units if they can’t collect a damage deposit?

Chris October 12, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Hi Jennifer,
It is difficult to get reimbursement from a tenant for damage when you can’t hold a security deposit. There are a couple of strategies that do help protect you from income loss. Even if you could charge a deposit, in reality, a security deposit may not cover the extent of the damage from a bad tenant. Focus on tenant screening, especially speaking to the previous landlords to evaluate the applicant’s previous rental history. Find out what the last landlord encountered. From there, actively managing the property — staying in touch with the tenant, making repairs, and conducting routine property inspections — shows the tenant that you mean business. Often damage occurs at move-out, so offer to walk through the property about a month before the tenant moves and point out specifically what needs to be done to avoid a legal claim. Finally, complete a move-in inspection report and have the tenant sign it. Give the tenant the opportunity to make additions to the report the first week after they move in. This is extremely helpful in the event of a legal dispute. As bad as it when the tenants damage the property, it’s worse to go to dispute resolution and not be able to prove you case. Thanks for reading, Chris

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