In Between Tenants: A Checklist for Landlords

Posted by Teresa on April 20, 2010 under General | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

to-do-list1Congratulations—you have a new tenant for your just-vacated rental unit. And you have very little time to get it ready before move-in day. Here’s a handy checklist to follow, with every detail covered:

  1. First, make sure any trash or property left behind by the previous tenant is removed. Whether you hold it for the previous tenant to pick up, trash it, or donate it is up to you.
  2. Check the plumbing, heating, and A/C systems. Turn on every faucet, let the water run for few minutes, then turn it off. Make sure there are no leaks. Check around toilets, the dishwasher, and the garbage disposal, too. Be sure thermostats, filters and vents are working properly.
  3. Change the locks, if necessary. Some landlords never change locks between tenants—others always do. Depending on your situation, either install new locks, have the existing locks re-keyed, or just check the locks to make sure they work properly.
  4. Turn on appliances. Check the stove—does every burner heat up? Does the oven put out heat? Are the racks still there? How about the broiler pan? Also, run the dishwasher through a complete cycle—make sure it doesn’t get hung up or leak. Check the refrigerator and freezer to make sure they are cold, now warm. If your rental unit has a washer and dryer, turn them on too. Make sure the washer does not leak, and the dryer is properly vented.
  5. Check cabinet and drawer pulls in the kitchen and bathroom. Are any missing or loose?
  6. Look for torn or missing window screens. Check the windows, too. They should open and close easily. Locks must operate easily. Think of your tenants’ ability to open sticky windows or unclasp a stiff lock. In an emergency, windows and locks must operate smoothly and easily.
  7. Clean, clean, clean. Whether you do it yourself or hire an outside firm, clean the rental unit thoroughly. Give the toilets and tubs, showers, sinks, mirrors, and floors in the bathrooms a good scrubbing; same for the stove and sink, countertops and refrigerator, tile and flooring in the kitchen; then, clean windows and sills, baseboards and carpeting throughout the rest of the house or apartment.
  8. Check the storage area, shed, or garage—make sure there is no trash, dirt, or spider nests lurking behind. Ditto for outdoor living spaces, like balconies or patios.
  9. Check smoke and CO2 detectors for proper operation. Make sure fire extinguishers are in place.
  10. Finally, provide a new roll of toilet paper and paper towels—usually the first things people need in a new place. Your tenant will appreciate the thoughtful touch.

If you’re able, an inexpensive plant is a great welcome gift for your new tenant—and will start your relationship off on the right foot.

Transitioning from Old Tenant to New Tenant

Posted by Teresa on October 26, 2009 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

key-and-lock on tenant screening blogIt’s a good idea to prepare for losing a tenant before the lease is actually up. Go to your file cabinet and pull the tenant’s file for review. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork in order, including any notices required if you do not wish to renew the lease. Or, if the tenant has informed you that they will not be renewing, then start preparing for your new tenant.

Plan for at least a one- to two-week window between tenants. Some landlords have rented units out before the previous tenant has moved—which can be a recipe for disaster! You have no control over when or whether a tenant will actually vacate your property. What will you do if the new tenant tries to move in, and the old one refuses to leave?

In this between-tenant time frame, you will be busy! Schedule the final walk-through and move out inspection with the old tenant for immediately after they have moved their belongings out and the unit is completely empty. You don’t want to be in the position where the tenant has moved away and cannot make it back for the move out inspection. Both parties should take part in this process together, to avoid distrust or false accusations of damages.

Once the move-out inspection is over, you can quickly assess damages and plan for any repairs, repainting, or replacing of fixtures, flooring, and walls. A thorough cleaning, pest inspection and treatment, and carpet cleaning can be scheduled at this time.

At this stage, you’ll know how much time you’ll need before you can put a new tenant in the unit. If you haven’t lined up a new tenant, increase your advertising and word-of-mouth efforts to speed up the process.

You can show the rental property while repairs and cleaning are being done; emphasize to potential tenants that the unit will be 100% habitable before they move in.

Remember to professionally screen all tenants as part of your application process. For more landlord resources, including forms and information on tenant screening, turn to .