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First time rental property owner in Houston, Texas. Current tenants will be moving out by the end of August. I manage my own rental property and would like to get opinions/suggestions on the most efficient tenants moving out step-by-step activities and get the property ready for the next tenants to move in. Try to avoid the situation that I may regret and ask myself "I should/shouldn't have done this first...should have asked FWer first".
Some of the activities that I can think of are:
1. Pre-move out walk through to make sure no major damage to the house.
-If no major damage, great.
-If major damage(s) is found, fix the damage(s) and make sure current tenants pay for the cost.
2. Start contacting listing agents and let them know that the property will be ready by say mid-September (assuming 2 weeks of cleaning and fixing minor damages).
3. Final walk through last day (end of August) before tenants move out.
-Take photos of any minor damages
-Ask for tenant moving address for deposit return.   
4. Setup temporary (pay-as you go) electricity plan and connect water with local MUD (next power and water for cleaning and fixing the house).
5. Fix the minor damages(s) myself or hire local Handy-guy. Keep all receipts for parts, labor, etc to be used for deposit deduction.
6. Cleaning the house after all damages are fixed. Carpet cleaning being the last cleaning activity.
7. Let the tenants know the cost of all the repair/cleaning and amount to be returned. Send the remaining of the deposit to current tenants. Can I just write a personal check and mail it using regular mail?
8. House is ready for showing. Once new tenants are moving in, disconnect power and water.
9. Watch money rolling-in again.

Did i miss any major activity? Thanks.
 

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That's so nice. We have pretty much had to charge the entire deposit in the last 2 move outs. Excessively dirty walls, t... (more)

needdealsnow (Aug. 01, 2017 @ 3:10p) |

I don't think anyone mentioned it but I like to change the locks when tenants move out.  Better safe than sorry.

XXXHIDDIXXX (Aug. 02, 2017 @ 10:52p) |

You could tell the new tenant that the locks weren't changed and let them change it on their own dime if they want (and ... (more)

scripta (Aug. 03, 2017 @ 2:51a) |

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For steps 5 & 6 check state law to see if you can bill tenants for your own time when doing repairs and cleaning. If not then hire everything and bill the ex tenants.

And let tenants know in advance that you would really appreciate it if they clean well before moving out but if they don't they will be billed hourly at $x per hour ( where x is the local rate for cleaning and I don't mean the cheap guys cause this is not your money). That might help incentivize some people to clean up after themselves. A far number of people don't bother to clean.

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For #4, most utility providers I have dealt with have put me in a landlord loop so anytime a tenant moves out, they automatically revert to my account with no lapse in service and zero effort on my part. Good luck! In no time this will all be second nature to you.

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Most tenants will hire a maid service to clean the property from top to bottom; ask for the receipt. Also, you forgot to ask the tenants to return the house/mailbox/pool keys and garage door/gate opener(s).

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cajundavid said:   For #4, most utility providers I have dealt with have put me in a landlord loop so anytime a tenant moves out, they automatically revert to my account with no lapse in service and zero effort on my part..
Maybe you have a failsafe but that's just asking for the tenant to stop their service and have you end up fotting the bill

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>> Current tenants will be moving out by the end of August

I'd recommend you send them a letter 90 days before lease end to:
1. Remind of the lease end.
2. Give a deadline to respond, after which some default action will happen - either lease ends and they get kicked out, or lease renews for another year on the same terms, or something else. The exact "default" action will depend on state laws etc.
3. Some state laws require you to give notice in advance for any looming deadlines. This letter can serve that purpose.

I'm not a LL, so no experience there. However, all the big corp landlords I have dealt with previously (I moved 5 times between 2004 to 2007 - so dealt with many of them) do this.

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rufflesinc said:   
cajundavid said:   For #4, most utility providers I have dealt with have put me in a landlord loop so anytime a tenant moves out, they automatically revert to my account with no lapse in service and zero effort on my part..
Maybe you have a failsafe but that's just asking for the tenant to stop their service and have you end up fotting the bill

  That has happened before. Simple, I get notifications every time the account changes. If the tenant disconnects while still there I simply have the utility company re-read the meter on their actual move out date and adjust their security deposit accordingly. And yet they are always surprised when I catch them and furious that it comes out of their security because it's always an "innocent mistake". Doesn't happen often though as I find most tenants to be fair individuals who take good care of my places.

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Depending how demand are for rentals but you may want to start showing it now with the tenant there. The key is always to minimize turn-over because each day unrented is a soft cost. So sometimes when it comes to making decision, should I do something to get it rent sooner vs the cost of said item/service, calculate that and it makes sense to spend the money then letting property sit unrented b/c of something that turns off potential tenant.

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lolo358 said:   ... Current tenants will be moving out by the end of August. I manage my own rental property ...
2. Start contacting listing agents and let them know that the property will be ready by say mid-September (assuming 2 weeks of cleaning and fixing minor damages).

First, as just mentioned in the post above, you need to get that property ready in a day or two. Unless rent is very low and you don't care about the money lost over 2 weeks of cleaning. And second, if you're managing it yourself, can't you also list it yourself? Plenty of ways to do it for free. And whether you list it yourself or use an agent, there's no reason to wait, they can list it now, say it'll be ready in early September, and start collecting applications.

You should also probably find and study the landlord-tenant laws and guides for your state. And maybe some books on managing rental property.

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Fellow Texas landlord here. I use a checklist that I got from a property management site and do a walk through with tenants when they move in noting every discrepancy such as nail holes, scratches on wood floor etc and we both sign it upon completion. When they are ready to move out and have their furnishings out we do another walk through using the same form and note any new damage or problems - whereupon both of us sign it. If damages are significant I also take pictures. That way the tenant is aware of what needs to be repaired (or replaced) and expects it to be taken from the deposit - and I have excellent proof in case I need to take them to court for any amount that exceeds the deposit, (and the contract I use specifies that I can and will seek judgement for amounts that exceed deposit).  I hire all of the repairs, painting, carpet cleaning, or landscape cleanup done, and then send their deposit along with copies of the receipts for work done. Like others have pointed out, time is money so I hire the work done to expedite its completion in order to get the property leased again as quickly as possible. Generally I start advertising it at the beginning of the current tenants last month as long as current tenants indicate they plan to move rather than renew.

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Question for experienced landlords here.

I have been told by multiple maintenance departments of big apartment complexes is that it is likely fruitless to hire my own cleaning service before move.
Their logic was that I will probably be better off turning the apartment in a few days before - time it will take me after moving out all furniture and stuff to coordinate a professional cleaning. Additionally, all of them told me any cleaning we do is going to be a waste of money (e.g. clean the carpet when that will be replaced anyway - just one example), AND will likely anyway not meet their standards. So I will be charged a cleaning fee anyway!!

Happened a few times to me all over the country - New Jersey, New York, PA, midwest - 2 different states, and most recently CT. Same story everywhere.

In the three occasions where my money (security deposit) was at stake (rest were "corporate accommodations" where I was not footing the bill):
1. The first LL company pretty much scammed me and returned zero of the security deposit. This was 12 years ago.
2. Second case, LL company (big one, 10000+ units under management all over the country) was totally fair - charged me $200 for cleanup. Professional cleaning would have cost me minimum $300.
3. Most recent case (as documented in another thread) went into legal dispute for other reasons unrelated to cleaning itself. But, to me it seemed like the LL was trying to be unfair to me.

What's the story with all big LL companies discouraging tenants hiring their own cleaners? Is it a ploy to grab the security deposit?

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Speaking as an experienced(?) former renter who never let a single dollar get taken out of security deposit, yes, it's a ploy, and it's pervasive in the industry. I think it only works because either (a) most people just don't clean up after themselves, or (b) people just don't know their legal rights and don't bother fighting over the cleaning fees.

The condition of the unit at move-out must be no worse than at move-in to receive the full refund. I'm in CA and I know my rights (the state publishes an online guide) -- I mark everything at move-in, request a pre-moveout inspection and let the landlord tell me what needs to be fixed or cleaned, then a final inspection to make sure what they requested was completed. If they fail to indicate something on the forms, then it's not the tenant's responsibility. I always kept a copy of all the forms. I threatened to sue once after not receiving the full refund (had the balance check in 5 days), and a few times I had to insist during or after move-out that I wouldn't accept a single penny taken out of my security deposit. The landlord needs to know that I know my rights and am not a pushover.

The one time I rented from a huge corporation was actually the most pleasant renting experience ever. The onsite manager was nice, the crew took care of everything quickly, the complex was clean, and I had no issues at move out.

Now that I'm a landlord, the property manager I hired (who is a realtor with their own properties) made it sound like they always charge the tenant a cleaning fee. I basically said "you can do what you want with yours, but with mine we're gonna follow the law, not try to screw people out of their money."

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>> people just don't know their legal rights and don't bother fighting over the cleaning fees

Yeah, it's very difficult to fight over your rights when you are moving a thousand miles away.

Many LL's know this and seem to exploit it. Completely setting ethics and morality aside - it probably makes economic sense to exploit these . At least it did for the first LL who grabbed my entire security deposit 12 years ago.

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In 20 years of having rentals I have never had to keep one cent of a deposit for cleaning and very rarely for damages.

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Mi does not allow charging a cleaning fee from deposit

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cajundavid said:   
rufflesinc said:   
cajundavid said:   For #4, most utility providers I have dealt with have put me in a landlord loop so anytime a tenant moves out, they automatically revert to my account with no lapse in service and zero effort on my part..
Maybe you have a failsafe but that's just asking for the tenant to stop their service and have you end up fotting the bill

  That has happened before. Simple, I get notifications every time the account changes. If the tenant disconnects while still there I simply have the utility company re-read the meter on their actual move out date and adjust their security deposit accordingly. And yet they are always surprised when I catch them and furious that it comes out of their security because it's always an "innocent mistake". Doesn't happen often though as I find most tenants to be fair individuals who take good care of my places.

I've had the reverse, whereby the tenant never opened a new account upon move-in. Utility wouldn't take out of my name because I was in the program, so only way to turn off utilities was to exit the program. I no longer use that program. I think notice was only given when service was put into my name.  Most of the time I just have the electric turned on only, not the water. Dont need water when no one is living there, and the utility doesn't lock the main valve. With the program I think both had to be included, so paying for sewer when little to no water being used.

 

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How long have the tenants been in the house?

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2 years.

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lolo358 said:   First time rental property owner in Houston, Texas. Current tenants will be moving out by the end of August. I manage my own rental property and would like to get opinions/suggestions on the most efficient tenants moving out step-by-step activities and get the property ready for the next tenants to move in. Try to avoid the situation that I may regret and ask myself "I should/shouldn't have done this first...should have asked FWer first".
Some of the activities that I can think of are:
1. Pre-move out walk through to make sure no major damage to the house.
-If no major damage, great.
-If major damage(s) is found, fix the damage(s) and make sure current tenants pay for the cost.
2. Start contacting listing agents and let them know that the property will be ready by say mid-September (assuming 2 weeks of cleaning and fixing minor damages).
3. Final walk through last day (end of August) before tenants move out.
-Take photos of any minor damages
-Ask for tenant moving address for deposit return.   
4. Setup temporary (pay-as you go) electricity plan and connect water with local MUD (next power and water for cleaning and fixing the house).
5. Fix the minor damages(s) myself or hire local Handy -guy. Keep all receipts for parts, labor, etc to be used for deposit deduction.
6. Cleaning the house after all damages are fixed. Carpet cleaning being the last cleaning activity.
7. Let the tenants know the cost of all the repair/cleaning and amount to be returned. Send the remaining of the deposit to current tenants. Can I just write a personal check and mail it using regular mail?
8. House is ready for showing. Once new tenants are moving in, disconnect power and water.
9. Watch money rolling-in again.

Did i miss any major activity? Thanks.

  
#1 needs to be more detailed. Prepare the list of visual inspections and follow the list. 1) Kitchen Range (inside out) 2) Refrigerator 3) Bathroom 4) Garage (if you have one) 5) Windows 6) Electrical 7) Closets and Cabinets 8) Floors 9) Paint 
Make sure tenant doesn't leave trash outside (They will tell you that garbage company or township will pick up). In our town, health department starts handing out tickets ($75 for each day) when this happens.
After #8, you will need to inform new tenant on how to replace heat/AC filters in order to avoid damage to HVAC. 
You may want to research professional management company's checklist which can be fairly comprehensive like http://www.mainlander.com/pdf/Vacating-Checklist-Mar-2013.pdf 
 

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NYKnicksFan said:   ...you will need to inform new tenant on how to replace heat/AC filters in order to avoid damage to HVAC.Why not do this yourself? Gives you an excuse to visit and examine the property once or twice a year.

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scripta said:   
NYKnicksFan said:   ...you will need to inform new tenant on how to replace heat/AC filters in order to avoid damage to HVAC.
Why not do this yourself? Gives you an excuse to visit and examine the property once or twice a year.

 true if it's a 4 or 5 in filter . if it's only 1 in filter, the labels say monthly, but 3months is realistic i think.

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If demand is strong.....I'd start advertising/showing the house a month prior to them moving out.

I keep vacant days as close to zero as possible.

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All 1" filters I've ever looked at said 3-months, but that's just a recommendation or "flow guarantee" whatever it means. If you use the heat for 3 months in the winter and AC for 3 months in the summer, replacing the filter twice a year makes sense, but probably not necessary.

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scripta said:   If you use the heat for 3 months in the winter and AC for 3 months in the summer, replacing the filter twice a year makes sense, but probably not necessary.
  in my house , where like a good FWFer I try to minimize HVAC use, heat is Nov-April (one year I had to use it to mid may) then AC June-Sept. 

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cajundavid said:   In 20 years of having rentals I have never had to keep one cent of a deposit for cleaning and very rarely for damages.
That's so nice. We have pretty much had to charge the entire deposit in the last 2 move outs. Excessively dirty walls, trash not cleared off, broken stuff, lost keys etc. 

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I don't think anyone mentioned it but I like to change the locks when tenants move out.  Better safe than sorry.

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XXXHIDDIXXX said:   I don't think anyone mentioned it but I like to change the locks when tenants move out.  Better safe than sorry.You could tell the new tenant that the locks weren't changed and let them change it on their own dime if they want (and give you or manager a new key).

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