It’s hard to get around it: move-outs are stressful for everyone.
There is a beginning and end to every tenancy. Some end badly. But a little planning and thoughtfulness can go a long way toward transforming a potential minefield of acrimony into a predictably seamless process.
It is in the landlord’s and tenant’s mutual interest to minimize the potential for damage, expense and hard feelings.
Move Out Planning Begins When the Tenant Moves In
Perhaps the most important step is to plan for the tenant’s move out the day their lease is signed.
Be sure to record the condition of the unit with photos and notes when tenants moves in, and have them sign off on the move-in condition. When it comes time to leave, your photos (or video, if you desire) will immediately squelch any potential for disagreement as to the condition of the unit when the tenant took possession.
Make a note on your calendar 60 days before the anticipated lease-end to check in with the tenant on their future plans. If they plan to stay, this gives you plenty of time to get their new lease drafted and signed. If they desire to leave, this advance planning helps you set all the wheels in motion to minimize disruption.
Communication is Key
Treating your exiting tenant with courtesy will go a long way towards making the move out a stress-free process for both parties.
Perhaps the most important step is assuring tenants that your goal is to return 100% of their deposits.
Why? Because if your unit is left in pristine condition you will be able to rent it to the next tenant a whole lot faster and not lose a dime of rental income.
Like you, many tenants have experienced bad move-outs. By informing them of your desire to return their entire security deposit, they will be far more likely to leave the unit in a move-in-ready condition.
Offer Recommendations for Win-Win
Like all of us, tenants sometimes accumulate more stuff than they realize. When it comes to picking up and hauling every box and piece of furniture to their next abode, all of a sudden that old couch or box of clothes can seem like an albatross.
Many charities are more than happy to accept donations of good clothes, furniture and other items, especially in the wintertime. Some will even come by and pick up the goods, making things easier for the departing tenant. Providing your tenant with a list of local charities can help everyone involved.
Be sure to remind tenants there may be a cost for any belongings left behind. It is their responsibility to donate their unwanted items to charity, not yours. Tenants need to plan early.
The same goes with carpet cleaners. Instead of putting the burden of finding a carpet cleaner on your tenant, reach out to a local company and offer to recommend them to your departing tenants if they agree to provide a nominal discount or preferred scheduling. The carpet cleaner gets a guaranteed job and your tenant can save some money. The added benefit: the carpet cleaner will be around after the tenant leaves if you need to call in the warranty.
Pre-Move Out Inspection and Formal Walk Through
Plan some time to drop off your carpet cleaner and charity recommendations, and offer to do a quick, informal inspection of the unit to make sure there are no damages. If something needs to be repaired and the tenant is at fault, it is much easier to flag it before the tenant leaves and tries to blame the damage on someone else. Plus it allows plenty of time to get any damages repaired before the actual move out date.
Be sure and do a formal walk through with the tenant when they leave. That should be scheduled in advance. Remember those pictures you took when they moved in? Have them in a folder (or available electronically) to quickly dispel any disagreements as to the move-in condition of the unit. Resolving condition disputes in person can save a ton of money.
Following these guidelines not only will help to significantly reduce move-out stress, it also will help you find your next tenant. A disgruntled tenant can make your life miserable by bad-mouthing you to prospective tenants. However, if you are doing all the right things and the tenant is eyeballing getting all of the security deposit back, he or she is far more likely to be supportive and help you in your quest to keep the property rented.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in 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.