Tenants don’t usually stay in one rental forever which is why it’s so important to have a standard landlord checklist to use when tenants move out.
Without a proper plan in place, there are quite a few things that can go sideways. In this article, we’ll discuss the issues you may face when tenants move out. We’ll also give you a move-out checklist so you can be prepared when that time comes.
What Can Go Wrong Without a Standard Move-Out Process?
Moving tenants in and out of a space can be a delicate process. There are a lot of things to consider. Below are some things that may cause problems if you aren’t using a standard move-out process.
- One thing that may cause issues is taking over a property that hasn’t been completely surrendered. The property must be relinquished by the tenants and in your possession again before it can be marketed and treated as a vacant property.
- A tenant may contact you to let you know they’re leaving the property. Be careful in assuming that everyone who lives there is also moving out. They may not be the only paying tenant, which creates a different scenario.
- Without a process in place, you risk losing out on time and money. Not setting expectations about how the tenant leaves the property potentially means extra cleaning fees and increased vacancy time.
Should the Landlord be Present for a Property Walkthrough with the Tenant?
It may seem like a good idea to walk through a property with a tenant, but this can often cause additional problems.
For the safety of everyone involved, it’s best for a landlord or property management company to do a walkthrough separate from the tenant.
In a walkthrough with the tenant, it’s easy to verbally say everything is okay, only to come back later and discover there are problems. It also opens up unproductive communication between you and the tenant. They will likely offer explanations for each individual issue on the rental property. This could create an uncomfortable situation or lead to confrontations between you and the tenant.
It’s far better to do a walkthrough separate from a tenant. This allows you to write down an unbiased report of the property’s status. If you’re not doing the walkthrough yourself, you can have your property management company send you a report that includes detailed pictures.
What Should be on the Landlord Move-Out Checklist?
The process of moving a tenant out begins from the moment you learn they are leaving. Below, we’ve outlined a checklist for the process of moving out a tenant. Using this process will help create a smooth transition when it’s time for them to leave.
Step #1: Document the Request
As soon as the tenant tells you they want to move out, you should begin a paper trail. If their request is not in writing, you can’t prove they’re actually moving out. Keeping records of the process will be helpful in the future if there are any disputes.
Step #2: Define the Move -Out Date
It’s vital that you and the tenant agree on a move-out date. This date will be critical for avoiding downtime and prolonged vacancies. Keep a written agreement between you and the tenant for the agreed on date and time.
Step #3: Make Sure all Utilities are Connected
If possible, try to be at the property the day the tenant moves out. This is so you can avoid missing utility problems like gas leaks or water leaks that might occur after the tenant leaves. If it occurs after they leave, they will no longer be liable for these repairs.
You should also have all the utilities connected and ready for the next tenant. This is necessary for electric, water, and gas. If there is a problem with the utilities, you’ll want to know before a new tenant moves in.
A problem with heat, electric, or water could take a few days to take care of and it would not be a good first impression for a new tenant.
Step #4: Send a Notice to Vacate
Send a vacating notice to the tenant to remind them of your agreed on move-out date. Include the security deposit itemization.
This document will show them what part of their deposit, if any, was used towards repairs. If they owe anything above the security deposit, it can be outlined in the vacancy notice.
Step #5: Request the Keys to the Property
Set up a way to obtain the keys from the tenant. The goal of this is to make it easy for them to leave when the time comes.
Step #6: Go Through Work Orders
For the walkthrough, you’ll want to have in hand the history of work orders. If there’s a carpet stain or a patched piece of drywall, you’ll already be aware of who did it.
Step #7: Have the Tenant Do Their Own Walkthrough
As a tenant is getting ready to move out, it’s a good idea to have them fill out a status report of the property. Give them a checklist of things that they need to take care of before they move out.
Doing this can really streamline the process and you can take their inventory and condition report with you for the final walkthrough.
Step #8: Document EVERYTHING with Pictures
When you do your final inspection, take a lot of pictures. You can then cross-reference these pictures with the move-in pictures. This gives you a clear idea of what changes happened while the tenant was living there.
With lots of picture documentation, you can show proof if someone argues about a charge. A good rule-of-thumb that we always tell landlords is this:
“If you think you’ve taken too many pictures, take more.”
Step #9: Bring Your Contractor
If possible, have your contractor go with you for the final inspection. They will be able to tell you what work they have done without trying to remember everything from a picture.
A Final Word on Moving Out
Your main goal with tenant move-out is to have a smooth process so you can continue making money on the property. To do this, keep crystal clear documentation through the whole process.
To keep things simple, consider hiring a property management company. Hiring a company takes the burden from your shoulders and puts it on to paid professionals who will handle everything from the big picture to the smallest details.
LEAP Property Management services the Dallas Fort Worth area and offers over fifteen years of experience. They know the best way to streamline the move-in-move-out process so your property can maintain the essential cash flow you desire.
Contact LEAP Property Management today to learn more about their services and how they can help you make the most from your rental property.