An efficient and stress-free move-in process will put your tenants on the right path throughout the entire leasing period. When you’re organized and thorough as your tenant moves in, you can also expect that the move-out process will be easier, when you’re evaluating the home and talking about the security deposit return.
How can you facilitate a good move-in and move-out process?
We have some tips, based on our years of experience as property managers in Visalia and the surrounding areas.
Conduct a Move-In Inspection
Take a lot of pictures of your property before your tenants move in. The goal is to adequately and accurately document its condition. You might have a lot of pictures already. The marketing photos you took likely show the condition of your walls, floors, appliances, and landscaping.
It doesn’t hurt to snap a few more pictures, however. You want to document every part of your property, even if there’s nothing exceptional about it. When your tenants move out, you’ll need a standard against which to compare the condition at move-out.
Tenants are fond of saying “the place looks better now than it did when I got it.” Or “that was like that when I moved in.”
With a well-documented move-in condition report, you can dispute both those things.
Invite Tenants to Conduct their Own Inspection
As tenants are moving in, you’ll want to provide them with your inspection report and invite them to fill out any notes and take any pictures of their own.
If there’s a problem, get it fixed right away.
You want to encourage your tenants to bring any issues to your attention right away and to document them. That way, they won’t be held responsible after they’ve moved out. It offers them total protection.
Accept the move-in sheet from your tenants and make sure everyone has signed off on the property condition. You’re all on the same page and your tenants understand that you expect to receive the property in the same condition at the end of the lease term.
The more work you do to ensure a smooth and consistent move-in process, the less work you’ll have to do at the end of the lease term when the tenant is moving and hoping to get their security deposit back.
Pre-Move Out Inspection with Visalia Tenants
California law requires that you offer tenants a move-out inspection before they vacate.
We strongly encourage our tenants to take advantage of this offer. We position it as the best opportunity they have to get their security deposit back. When you make this offer to your tenants, let them know that it will help them maximize the refund they receive.
When tenants take care of the issues we point out during the inspection, they get their security deposit back. It’s also better for you as the owner because there’s less down time during the turnover period. You can get the property re-rented faster.
As you walk through the property with your tenants, communicate openly about what you’d deduct for after they move out. They’ll know what they have to do, whether it’s cleaning or filling holes in the walls or replacing torn window screens.
Remind tenants to remove all of their personal belongings and take the trash out when they’re ready to move. If they have been mowing the lawn and responsible for landscaping, make sure they mow it once more before leaving.
When the home looks good, the deposit is swiftly returned. It doesn’t need to smell perfect, and we always expect some wear and tear, but if the home looks the way it did when they took possession, we’re always happy to refund the full deposit.
Some property management companies take a standard deduction, regardless of how the property looks and what the tenants might have done to return it to move-in condition. That’s not a great business practice, and we don’t do that. It’s a terrible way to end a relationship with a good tenant.
Separating Wear and Tear from Tenant Damage
Wear and tear is your responsibility as the property owner. During the move-out process and inspection, you will make deductions from the security deposit to cover property damage, but you cannot deduct for normal wear and tear. This is the general deterioration of a property that occurs no matter who is living there.
If your tenants are in place for only a year, there should be very little wear and tear. You might find some worn carpet in high-traffic areas or scuff marks on the walls from where furniture rested. Tenants who have been in place for several years might have
Painting and other wear and tear repairs should be done by you, not the tenant.
Make sure you are able to tell the difference between wear and tear and damage. Standard deductions we typically take for damage include:
- Broken window blinds
- Trash left behind in the home or in the refrigerator
- Large holes in or writing on the walls
- Stains on carpet or large scratches on floors
Everything in your property has its own life expectancy, whether we’re talking about your paint or your appliances. You should be keeping track of purchase dates, service calls, and other information so you understand when you’re likely to replace a refrigerator, water heater, or HVAC system.
Once your move-out inspection is complete, you’ll need to return the security deposit within 21 days. If you’re withholding money, you’ll need to document and itemize the deductions you’re making, with an explanation of why the money is being withheld. Include any receipts or invoices when you send the tenant that itemization.
A positive rental experience starts with the move-in and ends with the move-out. You don’t want to invite conflict or dispute, so make sure you’re communicating openly, documenting the entire process, and providing exceptional customer service throughout each part of the move-in and the move-out.
If you’d like some help putting together some best practices, we have additional tips we’d be happy to share with you. Contact us at The Equity Group to learn more.