So your tenant has given you notice to vacate your property…I’m sure your mind is racing…how much rent is still due, will you be able to find another good tenant, will you have an issue with cash flow if you don’t lease the place out quickly?
If you have employed a property manager, then all of the following will be looked after by them and you won’t be feeling as stressed. However, if you are managing your own property, here are some important steps to consider to ensure the end of lease runs smoothly.
Confirm the notice to vacate
The first step is to review your lease agreement and ensure the tenant has complied with the specified notice period. Tenants are legally required to give this notice and to pay rent during that period.
The next thing to do is to call your tenants and thank them for looking after your property over the duration of their tenancy. Make sure you mention to your tenants that you will be sending them an email confirming the balance of rent owed up to their vacate date and share some insights into what they will need to do in order to get their full bond back.
This is an important conversation to have – whilst it makes the tenant feel loved and outlines how much is owed, it also clearly specifies what they need to do to get their bond back – a priority for renters.
Follow up with an email to the tenants
As mentioned above following up with an email is very important as it confirms your discussion and outlines your expectations.
Some tenants incorrectly believe that they can use their bond to cover their remaining rent, but this is not legal and should never be the case. The bond money is held in trust to protect you as the landlord against property damage caused by the tenants, it is not there to pay outstanding rent.
Being proactive at this point highlights exactly what is required for them to get their bond back and ensures there is complete clarity and fewer issues down the track.
Advertising for new tenants and organizing inspections
Undoubtedly your next focus will be on finding and screening new tenants. Ideally you would have tenants moving in soon after the current tenants vacate.
Start advertising your property 4-6 weeks before your property will be available for new tenants to move in. Make sure you allow for any extra time if you are planning on spending a few days fixing up / refreshing the property.
Most tenants will do the right thing and ensure the property is tidy and in a reasonable state for inspections, however overflowing garbage, a smelly bedroom or an unmade bed can have a negative impression on future renters. If the property is presented very poorly this can directly affect the rent you can charge.
Open communication is key here. In most states and territories, written notice must be provided to the tenants at least 24 hours before the property will be shown to a potential renter. To help ease tension over last minute requests, it is a good idea to organise 2 set times per week for open home viewings as this gives your tenants enough time to tidy up the property and make plans if possible to be out of the premises. There is no official requirement for tenants to be out of the property but by giving them notice they are often happy to go out for the duration of the inspections.
A week before your tenants are due to move out, if your state’s legislation allows it, it’s a good idea to visit the home and do a pre-exit inspection. This is your opportunity to walk through the property with the tenants and discuss any concerns you have and areas of the property the tenant is obliged to fix.
Keep in mind maintenance issues are your responsibility, but you might find other issues such as stains on carpet that weren’t there before they moved in, marks of the walls, dirty oven etc that the tenant will need to address.
Tenants hand back the keys
First thing to do is check the correct keys and the correct number of keys have been handed back. Compare these keys to the photo of the keys you gave them that is in the condition report.
If the tenant had pets, the property must be professionally sprayed for fleas and the end of the tenancy and the cost of this would most probably come out of the bond.
Make sure you collect forwarding addresses for the tenants – this is firstly good to ensure their mail gets to the right place, but most importantly if there are any issues with the property you’ll be able to contact them.
Vacant property inspection
Now that the tenants are out you should conduct a formal inspection of the property. Take a copy of your condition report and walk through the property. Take note of any damages caused by the tenant or cleaning charges that will come out of the bond. It’s a good idea to take photos of any area of concern. Keep in mind, general property maintenance costs are not the responsibility of the tenant they are yours.
Provide a testimonial for the tenant and ask for one in return.
Tenants needs references for future rentals and it is often a priority or tenants. If you were happy with the tenants, then go ahead and write them a positive testimonial. Before you give it to them however, ask for them to write one for you in return. Positive testimonials as a landlord can help you attract better quality tenants and potentially enable you to charge a bit more.
Word of warning and help
Not all end of lease experiences run smoothly. Disputes arise, tenants don’t pay, landlords get upset about the condition of their investment and arguments erupt over the bond. LJ Hooker’s team of experienced property managers can help take the hassle out of everything from managing the end of lease process, conducting inspections, advertising and screening tenants, managing the condition report process and tenancy agreements, organize repairs and maintenance and importantly conduct regular rental reviews to ensure you are achieving the best possible returns for your property.