When you own a rental property, tenant turnover isn't uncommon. But as a landlord, there are several important steps you'll need to take when one tenant moves out and a new one moves in. Here's a quick checklist to stick to.
1. Take inventory
Your new tenant deserves, and will expect, a nice, empty home. So once your old tenant moves out, the first thing you should do is take inventory to make sure nothing's been left behind. Check the fridge and freezer, food pantry, closets, bathroom cabinets, and any other storage spaces you can think of.
If your tenant left items behind, prepare to clear them out but store them temporarily. Depending on state laws, you may be required to notify your old tenant in writing that he or she has left items behind and give that tenant a timeline -- usually up to 30 days -- for retrieving them.
2. Make repairs
Even if your old tenant didn't damage your rental unit, you may still need to make minor repairs to account for general wear and tear. Do a thorough walkthrough of your unit, making sure things are running smoothly. You should also expect to:
- Change light bulbs.
- Swap out smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
- Fix any appliances or fixtures that aren't working properly, like a leaky kitchen faucet or running toilet.
You also may want to repaint your rental unit if its walls are in bad shape or if they're light-colored and became stained while your last tenant lived there. And of course, you'll need to address actual damage, like a hole in your flooring (perhaps from furniture being moved improperly). Excessive damage beyond standard wear and tear can be paid for using your old tenant's security deposit, but you'll need to cover regular wear and tear yourself.
3. Do a deep clean
Your incoming tenant deserves an apartment that looks, smells, and feels clean, so prepare to do some serious scrubbing -- either yourself or with the help of a cleaning service. You also may need to have your unit's carpets steamed, so prepare for that added expense. And don't forget to tackle those kitchen appliances -- the inside of your unit's fridge should be devoid of food stains, as should the oven and dishwasher.
4. Change the locks
Be sure to change the locks as soon as your old tenant vacates. Don't forget to make a copy of the new keys for yourself and your building super or property manager, if you have one.
The Millionacres bottom line
The better a job you do turning over an apartment, the better you'll start off your relationship with your new tenant. Follow this list to ensure you don't forget any key steps and that your tenant doesn't have any complaints upon arrival.