The move in and move out process begins when your current tenants put in their notice and prepares to leave the property. You should start marketing your home as soon as that tenant puts in their notice. This means you might have to show the property while it is still occupied, but it will help you reduce the amount of time your property is vacant between tenants.
Once the tenant has moved out of the house, you will need to assess any damage, calculate any unpaid rent or fees or utilities that are owed and then dispense the security deposit within 30 days. This is also the time to make any major repairs that are necessary before you have someone new move in. There are laws that require you to have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in the home, so make sure they are functioning. Replace batteries and air filters and do whatever you need to do to make sure that home is in move in condition. You don’t want any structural damage or problems with the electrical or plumbing systems. All the appliances should be in place and working. If you advertise the property as having a refrigerator and then there’s no fridge when it’s time for the new tenant to move in, that’s a problem.
Screen your new applicants. You want to check their identification to make sure it’s valid and to confirm they are who they say they are. Have them fill out and sign an application form so you are then free to run a credit report and do a criminal background check and an eviction check. We also recommend collecting pay stubs to demonstrate employment and income, and ask for a complete rental history. If something shows up on their credit and you find out the applicant owes money to an apartment community or another property manager, you’re going to want to investigate further. Call that community or that landlord and get some details.
There are always red flags when we are screening tenants. For example, if they are especially interested in how we view bad credit situations such as bankruptcies, foreclosures and evictions; that tends to be a red flag. If they are unemployed they will likely not qualify for the property unless they have a lot of savings in their bank account to cover rent for the lease period. Any felonies are a red flag, and if the applicant starts referencing someone else and we begin to wonder who exactly will be living in the property, we have to ask a few more questions about who is actually applying for the lease.
As soon as all your criteria are met and you approve the tenants, get the lease signed. We use a lease from the North Carolina Association of Realtors. It’s about eight pages and it’s written by attorneys. All you have to do is fill in the blanks. Make sure it notes when the lease is effective, how much rent is required and when it’s due. Your lease should make clear where the security deposit will be held in an escrow account. That’s a legal requirement in North Carolina.
Add any addendums to the lease that are necessary, and then have everyone sign it. Provide your new tenants with a Move In and Move Out Checklist so there can be a record of anything that is damaged or defaced or not working properly when they move in. That document will help you and your tenants at the time of move out, so keep it on file.
You want to provide your new tenant with a clean, safe environment. Make sure you have changed the locks, provided new air filters and changed the smoke detector batteries. Then you can collect the security deposit and the rent and hand over the keys.
When your tenant moves out, it can feel like a huge process to get your home ready for a new tenant, especially if you walk into the house and see crayon on the walls, stains on the carpet, cabinets hanging off their hinges and broken toilet seats. If you’re not sure what to do first, a property manager can help you. We are able to take pictures, do inspections and send out our contractors and vendors to have the place looking like new right away so it’s ready for that new tenant.
Remember that if your property looks great when your tenant moves in, they will be more likely to leave it looking great when they move out. They’ll remember any messes they saw before they moved in, so keep it in great condition.
If you have any questions about how to handle your move in and move out procedures, or you would like more information on how to make it efficient and successful, please contact us at Carolinas Metro Realty, and we’d be happy to help you through the process.