What To Do When A Tenant Moves Out – Seven Easy Steps

Most people purchase rental properties with the goal of making money.  Unfortunately, when a tenant moves out, landlords can see the expenses pile up quickly.  Getting the old tenant out and a new tenant in quickly is critical if you don’t want to lose money.  We’ve created a quick seven step guide to maximize efficiency and minimize expense for landlords when a tenant moves out within the terms of their lease.

  1. Tenant Provides Move Out Notice – A well-written lease agree will have move out guidelines that include amount of notice needed for a tenant to announce their plans to vacate the property.  All rent and any additional money due should be paid before the move out process is initiated. If your tenant is breaking their lease early, ensure that they’re following the terms of the lease for early move out.
  2. Confirm Move Out Date – Check your state guidelines, and make sure that both you and your tenant are aware of local laws and regulations.  For example, some locations require that properties are vacated by noon on the last day of the lease. If alternate arrangements need to be made for your tenant, do so before move out day to avoid confusion and frustration for both parties.  Be available to your tenant on move out day to assist with questions or concerns.
  3. Review Your Lease Agreement – Take a look at your lease so that there are no surprises come move out day.  Setting proper expectations can prevent frustration on both sides. Make sure to keep your side of the agreement, and let your tenants know that you expect the same from them.
  4. Contact Tenant For Information – Make sure you’ve got contact information before your tenant moves out.  This will assist in mailing them their security deposit, and forwarding any mail or documents that may arrive after they move out.  Having additional information also makes it easier when future landlords contact you for references. At a minimum, we recommend keeping their name, forwarding address, phone number, and email address on file for two years after move out for your own records.
  5. Property Inspection – Once the tenant has removed their belongings and cleaned the property, you’ll want to do a move out inspection.  Having a copy of the lease and a move out checklist handy for this makes things easy and ensures that you don’t forget any details that might be costly down the line.  Make note of and discuss any damages that will be taken out of the tenant’s security deposit, and take photos for proof. Having photos from before and after move in and out leaves little room for dispute.
  6. Collect Keys – It may seem strange that we’ve added this step, but it’s one of the things landlords forget most often!  Get any keys, garage door openers, or remote access items back from the tenant. If they return fewer keys than they started with, remember to deduct the cost of keys from their security deposit.  Many lease agreements state a fee for lost keys or openers.
  7. Security Deposit – After deducting damages, send your (now former) tenant their remaining security deposit.  The amount of time you have to do this varies by location, so be sure that you’re adhering to local laws.  If you’re not refunding them electronically, it’s a good idea to get a self-addressed envelope from the tenant so that you’re sure you’re sending the check to the right address.

If a tenant moves out without notifying the landlord, this is considered abandonment, and the process is not the same.  In this case, the landlord would take necessary steps to secure and re-rent the property. They can also attempt to legally collect funds owed by taking the tenant to court.

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