Perfecting a Seamless Move-Out Process
Renters Warehouse Blog
For most landlords, preparing for tenants to move out is something that's often overlooked.
After all, move-in day is far more exciting -and it's easy to assume that once you find a tenant, they'll reside happily in your rental forever.
But the truth is, tenants come and tenants go -some more quickly than others. And it's a good idea to be prepared should your tenants decide that it's time to move on.
It might not be glamorous, but taking the time to document the tenant move-out process early on can help make the transition in between tenants so much easier. This is also one of those situations where a bit of prep work up-front can save you from a tremendous amount of hassle down the road.
Don't leave your tenant move-outs to chance! Here's what you should know about the tenant move-out process, and what you can do now to ensure that yours is as straightforward as possible.
The Move-Out Process: What Is It?
Believe it or not, you should start prepping for move-out before your tenant moves in!
A bit preemptive? Perhaps, but it's vitally important nonetheless. Having a well-documented process for your tenant to read, agree to, and sign can help you to establish clear expectations upfront, allowing you to ensure that your tenants know what's required of them when they move out.
So what should this document contain?
In short, it should outline all of the steps that should be taken to ensure a smooth transition for both tenants and landlord. It should include everything from the expected move-out condition of the rental, to the protocol for returning the security deposit.
Since everything is spelled out clearly -in writing, the tenant move-out process can also help to prevent miscommunication and differing expectations between tenant and landlord. This can help to curb many common problems that occur on move-out day -like your appliances 'disappearing' with the tenant, or an assorted collection of the tenant's unwanted mementos somehow being left behind. In short? It'll make life easier, and is a great way to protect yourself, and your rental.
The move-out process should be included in your tenant lease, and renters should be made aware of these conditions at the time of move-in. They should also be given a copy of the process again when they are preparing to leave.
Create a Checklist
One of the simplest ways to create a tenant move-out process is in the form of a checklist.
This is basically a run-through of the procedure that tenants should follow when they leave. You'll also be able to use the checklist to ensure that everything is left as it should be, and to convey information to the tenant regarding the notice to vacate, the rental inspection, and the return of the security deposit.
The move-out checklist should contain other details including stipulations that:
- The tenant must provide sufficient notice of intent to vacate, in compliance with the terms of the lease.
- The landlord has the right to advertise and show the rental at prearranged times.
- If requesting a pre-move-out inspection, the tenant must contact the landlord at least one week before moving out.
- The tenant must report all damage to the landlord in writing.
- All fixtures and appliances not belonging to the tenant must be left intact.
- The tenant must ensure that all belongings, as well as unwanted items are cleared from the home by move-out day.
- The tenant must ensure that all trash and debris are cleared from the unit. No trash is to be left on the curb.
- The tenant should clean the refrigerator and all appliances in the kitchen.
- The tenant should clean all floors and/or carpets.
- The tenant should ensure that the plumbing is free from leaks and/or blockages.
- The tenant must ensure that the grounds are clean and tidy (If this is the tenant's responsibility).
- The tenant must secure the rental when they leave, locking all doors and windows.
- The tenant must leave keys in a designated area or return them to the landlord.
- The tenant must ensure that utilities are current, and left on, at the time of move-out.
- A final inspection will be performed within ___ days of the tenant vacating the premises. The security deposit will be applied to any damage, and the remainder will be returned to the tenant within ___ days of final inspection. (Be sure to check state laws regarding the timeframe for returning security deposits.)
In addition to the above requirements and guidelines, there are a few additional details that you'll want to keep in mind as well.
- Security Deposit Refunds
Never return the security deposit to the tenant immediately. Always wait until after a thorough inspection has been performed.
Landlords have a specific amount of time that they can keep the deposit, although the length of this timeframe varies from state to state. Likewise, the process for returning security deposits varies as well. As a landlord, you should use this time to inspect your property from top to bottom to see if there are any unknown surprises that arise after the tenant moves out. Keep in mind that some issues may not be immediately apparent. If there's damage to the unit -aside from normal wear and tear, be sure to document it with photos, and keep receipts for any work that is done. Once the damage is fixed, apply the security deposit to the cost of repairing the damage, and then refund the remainder to the tenant.
- Check Your State Laws
Before you develop a move-out process, it's a good idea to check your state's laws, to make sure your process and requirements are in compliance. In addition to regulations surroundings security deposits, you'll also want to check the law concerning notice of eviction and the tenant's notice to vacate, as well as the tenant's right a pre-move-out inspection -as these areas will vary from state to state.
- Handling Disputes
Should your tenant dispute any of your reports on damages or use of the security deposit, the lease will be the deciding authority. Make sure you spell out in your tenancy agreement what constitutes damage, and how costs will be determined.
The move-out process isn't exactly a thrilling time, but that doesn't mean that it has to be frustrating! By taking the time to document the move-out process in writing, and ensuring that the tenant is clear on what's expected of them when they leave, you can ensure that you are both on the same page, help to prevent unwanted surprises, and protect both you and your tenant's interests. It'll make the transition much smoother, streamline the process, and can even reduce the vacancy time in between tenants, helping you to get your property ready and rented again far more quickly.
In addition to the move-out process, it's important to ensure that you have all of the other necessary documents in order as well -before you rent out your property. Having a rental lease application, tenant screening process, move-in process, rental agreement, as well as an eviction process are all vitally important. And don't forget -if you'd like to outsource the process completely, Renters Warehouse is here to help. We're your professional landlords -get in touch today to learn more.
Do you have a documented tenant move-out process? What must-have requirements did you include in yours?
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