In a perfect world, you’d find a tenant who lives in your rental property from now until the end of time.
But the truth is, we don’t live in a perfect world — and chances are, at some point, you’ll have to transition an old tenant out and a new tenant in.
Having a smooth transition process between tenants is critical; it’s important for the old tenants to tie up any loose ends and get their security deposit so they can transition to their new home — and for tenants moving in, it’s important that the property is in great condition and any issues are addressed before they officially move in.
As an owner, you want to manage this transition as quickly and efficiently as possible — otherwise, you’re likely to face some serious issues. If it takes longer than necessary to transition between tenants, you’ll be paying vacancy costs (like electricity, water, and yard card). If you don’t get your departing tenants their security deposit in a timely manner, they could leave you a negative review and damage your reputation. And if you don’t do your due diligence during your move-out inspection, your new tenant could find an issue with your property — and repairing that issue won’t be covered by your previous tenant’s security deposit.
But how, exactly, can you ensure a quick, efficient, and successful transition between tenants?
The Essential Tenant Move-Out Checklist for Landlords
Here is our tenant move-out checklist that will ensure you get your old tenant out — and your new tenant in — as quickly, easily, and free of hassle as possible:
First Things First: Give Yourself Enough Time
Before we dive into the move-out checklist, there’s one major thing you want to keep in mind when it comes to transitioning between tenants — and that’s giving yourself enough time to manage the transition.
There are so many owners and property managers out there who try to transition between tenants way too quickly — and the end result is a frenzied transition where things get missed, projects don’t get completed, and no one (not you, your old tenant, or your new tenant) is happy with the process.
Ideally, you want to give yourself 10 business days between your current tenant’s move-out day and your new tenant’s move-in day. Ten business days is plenty of time to get competitive bids for any repairs you might need, schedule contractors, and account for any scheduling conflicts or potential issues you may have missed.
For example, let’s say you need to get the carpet cleaned. If you only have two days between tenants, what happens if your carpet cleaner is sick? You either have to scramble to find another contractor (and likely pay a lot more
Or, let’s say you’re doing routine work with your contractor when you stumble upon an issue you missed during the inspection, like a leaky pipe. If you only have a few days before move-in, you
The point is, you don’t want to give yourself so little time between tenants that
Many owners and property managers try to transition between tenants way too quickly. The end result is a frenzied transition where things get missed, projects don’t get completed, and no one is happy with the process.
7 Steps to a Smooth Tenant Changeover
Now that you know how much time to give yourself to transition tenants, let’s talk about what a smooth tenant transition looks like.
To give you an idea of how smooth a tenant transition can be, here’s a look into LEAP’s process for transitioning tenants in and out of rental properties for our clients:
45-Day Notice of Intent to Vacate
45 days before a lease is set to expire, we get a notice of the tenant’s intent to vacate the property.
Notify Owner of New Vacancy
Once we have that notice, we notify the owner immediately to let them know the tenant will be leaving and what they can expect from the process.
Contact Tenant and Send Move-Out Checklist
We also contact the tenant to let them know we've received their notice to vacate and to get the ball rolling on the transition process. We send them a checklist that breaks down the move-out process, what condition we expect the property to be in, how to prepare the property for move-out, and important dates to put on their calendar (like the final inspection date).
List the Property and Begin Screening New Tenants
30 days before move-out, we list the property. This ensures there’s plenty of time to screen quality tenants to move into the rental property and minimizes the amount of time each rental stays vacant.
Manage the Changeover of the Utilities
Prior to tenant move-out, we make sure that all utilities have been transitioned out of the tenant’s name (that way, tenants that move out aren’t responsible for any costs of maintaining the property after they move, and new tenants have all the necessary utilities up and running as soon as they move in).
Once the tenant is completely moved out of the property (either the day they move or the day after), we’ll do a thorough walk-through and inspection of the property. During this process, we’re looking for any damage to the property. We take as many photos of the property as necessary (typically a few hundred) and then compare them to the photos of the pre-move-in inspection to determine if the damage was preexisting or is the responsibility of the vacating tenant.
Complete Necessary Repairs
Once we’ve identified any issues with the property and determined who is responsible for repairing them (the owner or the previous tenant), we put through a work order and schedule the contractors necessary to complete the repairs. If our client is responsible for any of the repairs, we make sure to get their approval on the vendor bid before work gets underway.
The Importance of a Tenant Move-Out Checklist
The process of transitioning a vacating tenant out of a property and a new tenant in can be easy, fast, and stress-free — if you know what you’re doing. And now that you have our tenant move-out checklist, you have everything you need to manage the tenant transition process — no stress or hassle required.