The move-out process is stressful for landlords and property owners because of all the details that need attention. It’s stressful for tenants too, especially good tenants who want to do everything right when they leave.
You can part on good terms by providing an organized and stress-free move-out process. Here are six steps to get you there, based on our experience managing rental homes in Chapel Hill, Durham, and surrounding North Carolina communities.
1. Remind Your Tenants of the Move-Out Requirements
When your tenants provide a notice to vacate, make sure you note their move-out date, and send them a notice that lists all the things they’ll need to do as the lease ends. This should include cleaning the property, removing all personal belongings, turning in keys, and leaving a forwarding address. This information can likely be found in the lease agreement, but it’s always helpful to remind them when the time comes.
2. Collect the Keys, Remotes, and Other Property
You don’t want your tenants to leave without handing over the keys, garage remotes, swimming pool access cards, and any other property that belongs to you or the HOA. Be clear about instructions because tenants will have a lot of other things on their minds during the move-out process. You can ask to receive these things in person, for example before noon on moving day, or you can instruct tenants to leave them in the property.
3. Complete a Move-out Inspection and Report
Once your tenants have turned in the keys and completely moved out of the property, you’ll want to conduct a thorough move-out inspection. You are looking for any property damage that goes beyond general wear and tear. You’ll also want to make a list of the repairs that will be necessary before you begin looking for a new tenant.
Owners cannot charge for things like scuff marks on the wall from where a piece of furniture was or small nail holes in the walls from where pictures or clocks were hung. You can, however, charge for damage that’s accidental or due to abuse, neglect, or misuse. Document everything with pictures, videos, and notes during the inspection. Compare it to the notes and rental inspection report from the move-in process.
4. Return the Security Deposit
The most complicated part of the move-out process for most owners is the return of the security deposit. North Carolina law requires you to return your tenant’s security deposit within 30 days of move-out if there are no reasons to deduct money from that deposit.
If you do need to deduct because of tenant damage, cleaning costs, or past due rent and utilities, you’ll have to return the remaining deposit and a detailed accounting within 30 days unless the work cannot be done in that time period. In that case, you’ll have 60 days.
5 . Ask for a Review
You want to know what the rental experience was like for your tenants. This will help you understand why they chose to leave and perhaps lead you to things that you can do better. Send a simple survey or questionnaire and pay attention to the responses you receive.
6. Prepare for a New Tenant
With your current tenants out of the property, you want to get your investment home re-rented as soon as possible. This will save you money on long vacancy periods and ensure you aren’t losing a lot of cash flow.
Try to make your turnover process as efficient and cost-effective as possible. If you’re working with a Chapel Hill property management company, you will likely get this done in a few days. Turn on the utilities so you can provide safe working conditions for your vendors and because you’ll want to turn on the lights and water when you show the home to new tenants.
We understand what’s needed during the move-out process, and our system is efficient and effective. If you’d like some support as you navigate tenants moving out, please feel free to contact us at Real Estate Experts. We specialize in Chapel Hill property management and we also serve communities in Durham, Mebane, Hillsborough, North Chatham County, and Terri.