Summer can be the busiest time for landlords because tenants appear to prefer to move during these months. It also can be the costliest time for landlords, as stressed-out renters begin to jettison trash, scrape furniture against walls and doors, keep the neighbors up at night, and in some cases, abandon ship altogether.
You can stem the tide of income loss by following these easy turnaround tips:
1. Contact tenants 60 days prior to the expiration of the lease term to find out if they want to renew — assuming that you would want them to stay. Otherwise, make sure they know you will not be renewing the lease.
2. Provide a cleaning checklist so tenants can either go down the list or hand it off to their cleaning crew.
3. Give tenants a list of contact info for big-item trash pick-up, donation centers, the utility companies and other helpful resources three or four weeks ahead of move-out.
4. Offer to do a mock walk-through a few days before the move-out date to flag any issues that might cause a deduction in the security deposit. Be specific about what the tenants have to do to fix the problem. This motivate tenants to keep an eye on the prize — return of the full security deposit.
5. Conduct an official walk-through with the tenant, preferably after all furnishings are removed, and record the condition of the property. It is best to use the same form you used at move-in. Discuss any issues so the tenant is not surprised later when they see the accounting. Many disputes are caused by a lack of communication. Ask the tenant to sign the move-out condition report. Allow the tenant the opportunity to make notations.
6. Ask the exiting tenant to point out any maintenance items they have discovered so these can be fixed prior to the new tenant moving in. Also, ask for the exiting tenant’s forwarding address, and find out what they thought about the rental experience. Former tenants can be the most honest and valuable reviewers.
7. If possible, allow a two or three day period between move-out and the new tenant’s move-in date. Planned vacancies allow time to spruce up the unit so it’s in prime condition when the new tenant moves in. That will set the stage for another successful tenancy.
LANDLORD TIP: Avoid the situation where a new tenant moves in while the unit is still being restored. Not only does this send the wrong message about caring for the property, but it will make it difficult to prove whether the new tenant caused any damage during the tenancy.
8. Be in the habit of re-keying locks each time there is a new tenant. This is mandatory in some states. Even if re-keying is not the letter of the law, it is a good practice for tenant safety, and can reduce landlord liability.
9. Promptly return the tenant’s security deposit, or provide an accounting of any deductions. Follow the local law with regard to timelines for returning or disputing deposits.
10. If you are able to return the full security deposit, consider it a success. That means the process worked as an incentive for the tenant to care for the property and your turnaround policies worked smoothly. Good job!
If you weren’t so lucky, troubleshoot what went wrong. Do you need to be more careful when screening tenants? Do you need to improve communication with tenants? Best to tweak the policy now then to suffer every time you face a turnaround.
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.