A Landlord’s Checklist for the Move-Out Process
There are many tasks for Landlords to handle when a Tenant is moving out. Yet, often Landlords are so focused on making repairs, finding new Applicants, and turning the property over as quickly as possible, that they forget the close-out tasks they need to complete with the current Tenants.
The Move-Out Process is important for making sure that the transition of Tenants is smooth, you comply with all applicable Lease laws, and your property is left in the best condition possible. Because of this, we recommend that Landlords be proactive about creating move-out procedures and follow those procedures with all Tenants. Here are some key steps to include in this process.
Provide Proper Notice with Detailed Move-Out Instructions
Last month we talked about Lease Renewal & Termination, so hopefully you’re familiar and comfortable with that process. Whatever the reason for the Lease term ending, it’s important that both the Landlord and Tenant have proper notice.
And beyond simply complying with Notice requirements, Landlords can use this communication to share important move-out information with Tenants. Whether you include it with your official Non-Renewal Notice or send it as separate move-out instructions, it’s helpful to provide Tenants with the following information, in writing:
- The move-out date and time;
- A Move-Out Cleaning Guide;
- Details about the move-out inspection;
- The process for returning keys;
- The process for providing the Landlord with a forwarding address; and
- Specifics regarding the return of the security deposit.
Review Security Deposit Regulations
Before the Tenant moves out, it’s helpful to review your state’s security deposit regulations. Each state has requirements for the return of the security deposit, including specifics about when it must be returned and requirements for withholding any portion of the security deposit.
It’s important for Landlords to be familiar with these requirements before a Tenant moves out so that they comply with all regulations and properly handle returning or withholding funds.
Schedule & Conduct a Move-Out Inspection
The move-out inspection is one of the most important parts of the move-out process. It’s a chance to identify and document any damage caused by the Tenant and create a plan for repairs. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning for the move-out inspection:
- Some states have specific guidelines about when the inspection has to take place and notice requirements for Tenants, so it’s important to check state laws before scheduling this;
- Normal wear and tear should not be considered damage to the property;
- It’s important to have a move-in checklist available when you do this so that there’s no confusion about whether damage was caused by a Tenant;
- Whether your state requires it or not, we recommend providing your Tenant with a copy of the completed Move-In/Move-Out Walkthrough Checklist at the end of the Tenancy.
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Get a Forwarding Address & Collect Keys
Two simple but important things that need to be part of your process are getting a forwarding address from Tenants and collecting all keys. A forwarding address is important for sending the security deposit and forwarding any additional notices and documents. And, when you get the new address, it’s always helpful to remind Tenants to have all of their mail forwarded.
Finally, it’s important to have a procedure for collecting keys. It will save you time and money to get copies of all keys from Tenants. Many Landlords have policies regarding lost keys so make sure you’re familiar with any applicable policies and remind Tenants of those before move-out. Once you’ve done that, it’s simply a matter of setting up a time or process for having Tenants return keys at move-out.
Return the Security Deposit or List of Itemized Deductions
Once you’ve completed the walk-through, you should have a clear list of any damage caused by Tenants. As soon as possible after move-out, have that damage repaired or get an estimate for the cost of those repairs.
Once you do, you can create an itemized list of any security deposit deductions for Tenants and return any unused portions of the security deposit. When handling these issues, keep in mind the timeline for your state and make sure that the security deposit is timely returned to Tenants.
Get Ready for the Next Tenant
Once you’ve completed the move-out checklist, you’re ready to start planning for and looking for your next Tenant. To help with this process, our next Coaching Article will talk through the repair process and potential upgrades, and the following month we’ll talk about filling vacancies.
Kevin is passionate about helping others to become a better Landlord by providing tools and education to help them thrive.