Sean Martin | External Affairs Director
Believe it or not, turning a unit smoothly actually begins when you sign your lease with your new renter. The lease and its accompanying paperwork set the tone for tenancy, and this is a landlord’s first opportunity to set guidelines for tenant behavior and responsibilities. Keeping those things in order and kept track of during tenancy means less work in getting your unit ready for the next tenant to move in down the line.
Things like standards for general maintenance, upkeep, and cleaning during tenancy, procedure for terminating tenancy, and move-out deadlines should be included in the lease. Additionally, providing your tenant with cleaning instructions once you or the tenant have issued a notice to terminate allow the tenant to return the unit to you in a condition that is quick to re-rent and ensures they receive a full deposit refund.
Also, critical to the paperwork process is the property condition checklist, signed prior to move-in by you and the tenant. This is the document that all charges for cleaning and damages at move-out are based upon. Remember, that without this document you cannot legally collect a deposit nor withhold any money from it.
Once the tenant has moved in with all accompanying paperwork, a landlord should not prepare to merely collect rent and sit back on their laurels! A complete, consistently followed maintenance plan for the duration of tenancy is a must have. This includes the need for at least an annual inspection of the property, if not twice per year, to make sure no maintenance or repair issues have gone unreported.
When it does come time for a tenant to move out and move on from your rental, circle back to the property condition checklist and your cleaning instructions for them. Remind your renter of their opportunity to receive a full deposit refund if the unit is left clean and free of damages, and what the time frame for move-out is. Chances are that in the period of time they’ve lived in the unit, the tenant probably hasn’t circled back to re-read their lease.
A final move-out inspection, once the tenant has moved their belongings out of the unit can be done with the tenant present, but this is not a legal requirement. Go back to the property condition checklist completed at move-in and note any issues which are beyond normal wear and tear to prepare readying the unit for the next renter. Remember, state law – as of July 2016 – now gives landlords 21 days to complete the deposit refund process to the tenant. If your tenant move in prior to July 2016 check your lease to ensure it doesn’t specify a shorter time period as you’ll have to comply with that.