VOLUME VIIIWhen One Tenant Leaves, Be Ready for Another One
8 Tasks To Complete Before the Next Tenant Moves In
By Amanda Razani
(Shamontiel L. Vaughn and Jonathan Coleman contributed to this post.)
Landlords and property managers come to rely on rental properties as a good source of income. But in order to make them reliable, quality tenants must be inside. And if landlords want quality tenants, they have to put their best foot forward for first impressions of their rentals. That means as soon as a rental property is vacant, proper maintenance is a must.

Prior to inviting new tenants in for screening and selection, there are several important steps to take, from making sure the property and rental contract follow city and state laws and regulations to cleaning, landscaping and updating.

Before handing over the keys to the next renter, take a look at this preparation list.

First Round: Landlord Inspection List After the Last Tenant Leaves
An on-the-surface inspection with the last tenant may not unearth some things that the property owner needs to know before the next tenant moves in. Here are a few things to investigate before inviting a new tenant onto the property.

Have a thorough property inspection, including:
  • Appliance functionality
  • Door and window sealing
  • Drains (unclog or fix if running slow)
  • Electric system and outlets
  • Landscaping (mowing lawn, spraying away weeds)
  • Lighting
  • Flooring (replace damaged tiles, change or deep clean carpet)
  • Paint (fill in holes, repaint dingy colors)
  • Plumbing
  • Roof upkeep
  • Smoke detectors (If they are not already installed, carbon monoxide detectors must be installed too.)

This prepared checklist, along with pictures, videos and notes, ensures that the property owner can confirm the status of the property ahead of time. (This will also come in handy during a tenant walk-through so both parties are on the same page.)

The property should be fully cleaned from top to bottom. A professional crew can speed up the time needed to clean the property thoroughly. Appliances such as stoves and fridges must be moved so that the floor and walls behind them can be addressed. Window blinds should be spotless. Bathrooms should shine. All appliances and sinks should be sparkly. Lyme buildup around fixtures should be removed.

If anything hazardous (such as mold or mildew) is found during the cleaning process, it must be quickly treated.

Second Round: Landlord Inspection List After the Last Tenant Leaves
While Texas state laws don’t require all cities to have air conditioning, property owners should be aware that some cities do. Dallas and Houston have city ordinances that require property owners “to provide and maintain equipment that cools habitable spaces to a certain extent.” Florida, despite no state laws mandating air conditioning, can have cities or counties that alter this rule as well. Change air filters and make sure the equipment is running smoothly.

Go4Rent Substack Exclusive: What’s the Best Way to Heat a Rental?Heating is required in most places though. And if the rental contract states that heating and cooling units will be provided in the property, then landlords are responsible for providing, fixing and maintaining the units to be up to code.

Photo credit: Miguel Á. Padriñán/PexelsThird and Final Round: Landlord Inspection List After the Last Tenant Leaves
Even if there wasn’t a termite or other pest problem before, the move-in and move-out process can too often lead to pests trying to find a new home. Get an inspection just to make sure, including checking around pipes, inside walls, and bricks and chimneys in need of tuckpointing.

Once all cleaning and inspections are complete, have the utilities turned off. It is illegal to turn off any utilities after a tenant moves in. The reason the utilities should be turned off is to confirm that once turned on again, they are in the tenant’s name and avoids any risk that the landlord will be involved in unpaid or late utility fees.

Finally, while Florida state law does not require lock changes, Texas requires the locks to be replaced within seven days of tenant turnover, according to property codes. This can be done by calling a certified locksmith. Or, if the property owner is efficient in do-it-yourself tasks, the locks can be changed that way.

Photo credit: Florian Berger/UnsplashPreparing for the New Tenant
Now that all the maintenance needs are met and the home is ready to move into, it’s time to make sure the tenant is ready.

The tenant should have a copy of all necessary documents before the move-in date, including:
  • Confirmation of phone numbers, email addresses and hours of operation
  • Copy of the signed lease agreement (which should include any homeowners association or condo association rules relevant to them)
  • Inventory form of steps 1-3 to confirm all were complete before tenant moved in
  • List of utility companies to turn utilities on
  • Receipt for move-in funds, security deposit, and any upfront pet and maintenance deposits
  • Renters insurance documentation with a line about the landlord listed as an “interested party” or “additional insured”

The signed lease should include details that confirm the tenant fully understands all rental terms and conditions to avoid confusion down the road. Renters need to be clear on day-to-day practices such as maintenance issues, pet policies and how to make monthly rental payments.

Finally, tenants should be offered a full walk-through and shown how to use appliances in the property, as well as how to perform general maintenance such as turning off the water, resetting the garbage disposals, and any forms of upkeep outlined in the lease that are required by the tenant. (While landlords may assume tenants know how to do this, it could arguably save on home warranty expenses later to show them how to use an appliance correctly instead of finding out the hard way that they cannot.)

Once given a final walk-through, renters should be given all the necessary contact information they may need during their time living in the property. They should also be made aware of the times they can reach a landlord or property manager. Any phone numbers for neighborhood watch organizations, or other helpful local groups, should be shared too. Though it’s not a requirement, landlords may choose to give their new tenants a small welcome gift or letter.

Following these steps will ensure landlords are protected from liability, and tenants are satisfied and secure in their new dwelling. With proper knowledge and planning, preparing a rental for a new tenant can be a smooth, comfortable process for all parties involved.