Having one of your tenants make moves to leave is a difficult process for everyone involved. They have a lot of work to do, of course, between the paperwork and the physical move, but you also have a lot to do. Tenants leaving means that you have a space to fill, and fast, before you lose too much money. It also means that you have to deal with whatever they may have left behind, which, in some cases, can include costly maintenance. So, what is the best way to approach this situation when it inevitably happens?
Plan for Tenants Leaving Within the Lease
This departure, known as “turnover,” can actually be prepared for by you, the property manager, “before the tenants even move in.” This may seem counter-productive, if you’re anticipating them leaving in the future, but it’s also realistic. The best defense is a good offense, so take steps now to protect yourself in the future.
As with many property-related scenarios, you want to spell out as much as you can in the original lease documents for instances like this to be prepared for tenants leaving in the future. If you mention that the tenant is responsible for cleaning up and/or repairing issues within their space before departing, then those problems aren’t left for you to handle later on. This should also reference general repairs that are deemed necessary while the tenant still works in the unit, such as “cleanliness and general upkeep (e.g. replacing light bulbs).” You may own (or manage) the space, but they are temporary keepers of it, and should therefore be held accountable for at least some of taking care of it.
In addition, you want it to be spelled out exactly how much notice they have to give before leaving. If not, they could do it too quickly for you to fill the space, losing you money and causing stress. The standard period of time offered by property managers is one or two months, so think about what you have done in the past and what others do that works before setting the time period within the lease. Conversely, consider the specifics of when tenants are required to leave the premises on their move-out day; some managers offer incentives if they leave early so that any cleanup and maintenance can be done as soon as possible.
“One of the most common reasons dissatisfied tenants leave a rental property is because a landlord fails to maintain the unit, or fails to respond to requests for maintenance in a timely fashion.” As such, you want to make sure that you, or someone on your team, is always on top of these requests when they come in. You want to make sure that you have a reliable maintenance worker who can expertly and quickly tend to these issues, urgent or not. You want to make sure that, at the very least, you have a functional system in which tenants can contact you with these concerns, perhaps via a property management software.
Along the lines of maintaining your property, make sure that there are “regularly scheduled property inspections,” especially if yours is an older property. Once a year is usually enough, though you want to do this within the units after the tenants move out and before a new one moves in. This is for internal inspections only; external ones can be performed more regularly, since they are less invasive and disturbing to people who may be hard at work. Finally, though it may seem like your right, make sure to outline your ability to enter the units and conduct these inspections within the lease, or else you may end up in a legal dispute that you didn’t expect.
Finally, consider what needs to be done around the time that they are going to move out. “About a month or two before… give them a list of your expectations.” If they need to have something cleaned or repaired, then that’s their responsibility. There is likely going to be a lot on their minds, and yours, during this time, which is when having it all down in the lease way ahead of time comes in handy. It also helps to have a powerful software solution on your side, which is where Budgetrac Property Management software comes in. This system offers a technology solution for your business, managing information, including maintenance info, within a simple database. You won’t need to get stressed about tenants leaving when you have the support of this versatile tech at your fingertips!