Moving out can feel stressful for residents. They’re managing the details of the home they’re leaving as well as the home they’re moving to, and that can cause confusion and concern.
It’s often stressful for property owners, too. You want to make sure your property is left in good condition, and you know you’ll have to reconcile the security deposit. It’s easy to make landlord mistakes, and we want you to feel comfortable with the move-out process you have in place.
A checklist always helps.
Here’s what we recommend for the three main items on that move-out checklist:
- Conduct a thorough inspection.
- Return the security deposit.
- Prepare the home for new tenants.
Ask your San Diego property management how the move-in and move-out process is handled. It has an impact on how you effectively begin and end a lease period.
Prepare Tenants for Moving Out
Before your tenants move out, provide them with a list of the things they’ll need to do. This may include making any minor repairs such as changing the filters and replacing light bulbs that aren’t working, cleaning the property thoroughly and professionally, and returning any keys, garage door openers, and other pieces of property that belong to the owner or the community. Remind them that you’ll need a forwarding address so you can return the security deposit.
Move-Out Inspection Checklists for Landlords
If you work with professional San Diego property managers, this inspection will be handled for you, and you’ll receive a detailed inspection report with photos. If you’re managing your home on your own, you’ll need to know what to look for after your tenants move out and you’re inspecting the home for damage.
The first thing on your checklist is to offer your tenants a pre-move out inspection. This is their legal right in California, and while not many tenants take you up on the offer, you still have to be available if they want it. This is actually a good opportunity to walk through the property with a tenant and point out anything that needs to be repaired in order to receive a full deposit refund.
After the tenant has vacated, you’ll need to conduct another inspection, which allows you to evaluate the cleanliness of the home. It should be in the same clean condition that it was when your tenants took possession. Your lease agreement might require your tenants to have the home professionally cleaned or the carpets steam-cleaned before they move out. Check to see if that’s been done.
You’ll want to look for damage. Make sure you understand the difference between damage and wear and tear. As a landlord, you’re responsible for the general wear and tear of the property. Those nail holes in the walls from where pictures were hung or scuffs from where furniture rested are your responsibility to repair and restore. Tenant damage is anything beyond that, due to the abuse, misuse, or neglect of the home. A broken window or screen or appliances that are dented are examples of damage.
Return Your Tenant’s Security Deposit
California security deposit law requires you to return your tenant’s deposit within 21 days of move-out. This doesn’t give you much time, so be prepared to work quickly. If the tenants left the home in excellent condition and you’re returning the full deposit, simply send it to their new address. If you’re making deductions, make sure you indicate what you’re deducting for and why. You’ll want to include any invoices, receipts, or estimates to show that the amount you’re withholding is reasonable and valid. You don’t want to find yourself in a dispute with your tenant.
Remember that you’re permitted to deduct for damage, but not for wear and tear issues. Those small nail holes or scuff marks on the wall cannot be considered damage.
Prepare the Property for Your Next Tenants
The final item on your move-out checklist is getting the home ready to re-rent. You’ll want to quickly make any repairs that are needed so you can start showing the home and get a new tenant moved in. This will ensure the disruption to your rental income is minimal. Make sure you check the home for things like leaks under sinks, working outlets, and functioning locks on doors and windows. Turning the property over quickly and efficiently can usually be done with the help of San Diego property managers.
If you have any questions about how to effectively move a tenant out of your home, please contact us at Mercer Properties. We’re happy to serve as your San Diego property management resource.