Providing a good rental experience for your tenants is part of being a good landlord. When you have new tenants preparing to move in or existing tenants preparing to move out, you need to help them manage the process with minimal stress and confusion.
We have some tips on how to provide a move-in and move-out experience that puts your tenants at ease and contributes to a great rental experience for all parties.
Provide a Clean and Functional Property at Move-In
Before your tenant moves in, conduct a complete inspection of the property to make sure there aren’t any last-minute repairs that are needed. We recommend that you test everything. Turn on all the faucets. Look under every sink for moisture and leaks. Plug something into each outlet. Run the appliances and turn on the heat and the air conditioning. Have the home professionally cleaned and document the condition of the home with a detailed inspection report and photos of everything.
Discuss the Lease Agreement Before Move-In
It’s also a good idea to walk through the home with your tenant. Show them how everything works. For example, they’ll need to know where to turn off the water and how to reset the garbage disposal.
While you’re together, go over the terms of the lease with your tenant. It’s easy to gather electronic signatures, but being available to answer questions and highlight the most important parts of the lease will go a long way in avoiding disputes and conflicts in the future. Explain their responsibilities, starting with the rent collection policies and the consequences of not paying on time. Talk about how to keep the property clean and well-maintained. Discuss who is responsible for utilities, pest control, and landscaping.
Remind Tenants of Move-Out Expectations
When your tenants inform you that they’re leaving, put something in writing that reminds them of the things they’ll need to do before they move out in order to increase the chances that they’ll receive their security deposit in full. Explain how they should clean the property and return the keys. Make sure you get a forwarding address so you can return the security deposit in the appropriate timeframe.
Returning your Tenant’s Security Deposit
Conduct your move-out inspection after your tenants have vacated the property. Remember that normal wear and tear is your responsibility, and cannot be charged against their deposit. Take pictures and make notes, especially if there’s damage.
If there is damage left behind and you’re going to make a claim against the security deposit, prepare an itemized list of what you’re withholding and why. You’ll need to return this to your tenants with any of the security deposit that they’re getting back. California law requires that you do this within 21 days of a tenant moving out. Don’t make a security deposit mistake because it will be expensive. A tenant can take you to court, and you may be ordered to return three times the security deposit amount to the tenant if you’re found to have mismanaged the process.