Fifteen BIG Mistakes PM's Make At Vacate Time

Fifteen BIG Mistakes PM's Make At Vacate Time

The tenant vacate procedure is a BIG one!

It is only second to our leasing/letting procedure in sheer length and volume of work required to complete it successfully.

However, unlike the leasing/letting procedure, the tenant vacate procedure seldom is a smooth one and can often involve conflict, complications and stress.

Getting it right is ESSENTIAL to good property management.

Nuts and Bolts

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Make sure you avoid these 15 common mistakes:

#1- Not conducting a pre-vacate inspection.

Conducting a pre-vacate inspection allows you to proactively identify and deal with all sorts of issues from overgrown gardens and possible damage, to ensuring the tenant will focus on thorough cleaning and ensure the carpets are professionally and correctly cleaned.

You’ll have a much smoother vacate inspection when you have prompted your tenant on what they need to do personally at the property.

#2- Not reporting the vacate inspection to the owner.

As an owner of two rental properties myself, it’s important that I’m made aware of the condition of the property when the tenant has vacated. It’s like doing a whole term at school and not getting your report card at the end of it. You want to know how the performance went.

Your owners want to know what’s going on and what condition the property is in. Good clients will also want to know what they need to do and spend to improve the property and upkeep before a new tenant moves in.

#3- Not checking irrigation, hoses and sprinklers.

Unlike electricity getting disconnected, the water supply should still be on so spend time turning on the irrigation system and hoses and check sprinklers and drippers. Not doing this can also mean damage caused by pets (dog-chew damage) can be easily missed and when the tenant’s bond is refunded, you’ll likely stand no chance of getting the tenant to pay for their damages.

#4- Failure to thoroughly document everything.

When there’s a dispute and it’s off to tribunal/court, failing to have adequate photographic evidence of the issues at hand may mean a totally legitimate claim can be reduced or even knocked back altogether.

#5- Failure to give adequate credit and gratitude to the tenant.

Let’s face it, only around 10% of inspections actually are really good with minimal-to-no issues to deal with afterwards. Make sure you thank your tenant properly and acknowledge they have made your job that bit more pleasant. They are your partners in the rental business for without their rent payments and good performance, you have NO job (or a lot more difficult one!).

#6- Lack of information at entry.

There’s nothing worse than trying to conduct a credible vacate inspection with a lack of comments, vague information, photos and even video at the entry/ingoing/PCR inspection.

A vague entry report results in a vague tribunal/court case when things get messy at bond refund time. A thoroughly documented entry report will ensure you have a good case should there be a dispute.

#7- Refunding the bond back then making an insurance claim.

Refunding part or full bond from a tenant and then making an insurance claim because of damages (accidental damage etc), can result in no comeback from the insurer against the tenant. Once the bond is refunded, the tenancy is also finalised as is the tenant’s responsibilities.

Just be aware of what the insurer may wish to claim later. Always check with the insurer first for any potential complications that could occur before you refund back the bond if you’re not certain.

#8- Failure to report back to the tenant issues identified.

Always report quickly and in writing issues to be addressed, and in what acceptable time frame. Failure to do so can jeopardise your claim against the bond, and the agency having to pay costs. (This depends on your state legislation in this case).

#9- Dragging out the Bond Refund.

Every tenant needs their bond back as soon as possible and nothing upsets the tenant more by dragging out this process and relegating the issue to your inbox and low-prioritising it. Finalise it fast no matter how complicated it is.

#10- Not reading the water meter.

Some states require the water meter to be read upon vacating and when this is missed it results in wasted time going back afterwards.

#11- Using email instead of the phone.

Some issues cannot be resolved by email, and will be resolved quickly if you get on the phone, especially when it comes to identified issues that could affect the tenant bond refund. Get onto it fast!

#12- Paying the owner first and tradies afterwards.

When things get messy and a clean-up is required, ensure the bond is held back to pay your tradespeople. Just because rent is owed doesn’t mean the owner should get paid first. Keeping tradespeople unpaid after they have conducted cleaning, carpet cleaning, gardening, repairs and the like damages goodwill and their trust in you.

Let the owner know upfront why the bond will be held back, when they’re likely to see the monies (landlord insurance claim) and when, and don’t be afraid to ask for more funds if needed. But do not keep your tradespeople hungry!

#13- Having a car kit.

Have a small cleaning kit in the car for the little things. If it’s too small of an issue to get in a cleaner or get the tenant back, too large of an issue to ignore then cleaning it yourself may be the solution if it will take a few minutes.

#14- Using a vacate checklist.

Ensure you use a checklist that makes you check if rent, water, cleaning, carpet cleaning and the like is either confirmed paid, not needed or otherwise. Not using a detailed vacate checklist will result in the bond being refunded with monies by the tenant owned. Remember when the bond is finalised, so to is the tenant’s responsibility.

#15- Not understanding human nature.

When a tenant moves house, they put all their emotional, mental and physical energy moving into their new property and not much energy is left over to go back and clean the vacated property.

This results in a compromised and rushed cleaning job by the tenant. Therefore before the tenant vacates, supply them with the contact details of preferred cleaners. This could help alleviate the issue by them opting to get the property professionally cleaned instead of doing it themselves.

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