When a tenant moves out, the property manager or landlord heads in to clean the vacated unit for the next tenant. Sometimes, the tenant leaves the apartment in great shape and the cleanup is minimal. Other times, there’s a lot of tossing, scrubbing, and refreshing to do. That’s when you need to put your proficient investment property management skills to good use.
What can you do? In order to get a new tenant in quickly, the property needs to be spic and span before prospective tenants can even view it. A clean property is a means to an end in this business, and the cleaner the property, the higher the quality of the tenant you can sign and the sooner the that rental income is coming in again.
As you already know, cutting corners on cleaning is not an option, but you’re only human. Mistakes can be made. Have a checklist to help ensure you don’t miss anything.
Here are some tips that may help you simplify the task. It may also help you find ways to delegate some of the work next time. You’ll also find some helpful investment property management software suggestions and resources to help you manage the tasks.
Just as important as the tenant’s move-in inspection is the move-out inspection. In some ways, the move-out may even be more important. The move-out inspection is the tenant’s one opportunity to dispute property damages you’d otherwise attribute to him or her. It also facilitates communication between you and the tenant regarding damages and who’s responsible for what to save haggling later on. Don’t forget to get all sets of unit keys back, including any tenant-created duplicates.
Visual evidence is your best ally should any disputes arise after the tenant has left. Photographs aren’t always admissible in court as absolute proof, but they’re good to have when it’s time to clear up some matters. It’s also helpful to maintain photos of all units from move-in and move-out inspections to have a a record of how the property holds up over time. Better yet, start using an app like InspectCheck to record and store the details of your tenant move-in and move-out inspections.
Never assume that tenants will switch the utilities off in the unit they’re vacating. Add a step to the move-out inspection requiring proof of utility turn-off or access to relevant utility account information to avoid problems when a new tenant is ready to move in. If a tenant fails to pay their utility bill in full, which is required to turn off a utility account, the property owner could be stuck paying it.
If utility deadbeats have been a problem in the past, consider retaining control of the utilities for all units and charging tenants with their monthly rent. This can save you time and keep associated accounts under your control.
Give your tenants a detailed checklist of their cleaning responsibilities before the move-out inspection. Including both major and minor tasks you expect them to complete. Ideally, by requiring tenants to clean their units upon move-out minimizes the amount of cleaning you’ll have to follow up with. That’s the way to delegate.
Add some or all of these cleaning products to your cleansing arsenal to spare yourself some elbow grease.
[ ] Inspect all appliances. Make repairs to any that aren’t functioning properly or call in a pro to make the repair. If an appliance is on its last legs, consider replacing it with an energy-efficient version, which will appeal to potential tenants.
[ ] If the unit you’re cleaning is furnished, replace any pieces that are worn out or won’t come clean anymore.
[ ] Hire a service to clean the blinds. Requiring tenants to clean the blinds before move-out may not be the best idea. Blinds become fragile over time and break easily, especially when they’re being cleaned by someone who’s in a rush to leave. Put off replacing window treatments longer by hiring a service to come in and do the job. You could clean them yourself, but you have better things to do, Besides, a cleaning service has the appropriate equipment to get the job done thoroughly.
[ ] Clean all windows and forgotten nooks and crannies. Even when tenants follow your meticulous checklist, they’re likely to miss a few things. But their uncleaned spots and smudges can lead to grime buildup over time, and that means potential tenants may decide to look elsewhere and you’ll be scrubbing, painting, and replacing outlet and light switch covers.
[ ] Speaking of outlet and light switch covers, make sure to check them while you’re cleaning. Additionally, check under the lip of bathroom and kitchen counter tops, baseboards, ceiling fan blades, doorknobs, the floor around the base of the toilet, bathtub grout, and everywhere else you’d rather not venture (but have to).
[ ] Once you’ve finished cleaning, go back and re-clean key areas. Start with the kitchen and dining areas. Make sure the kitchen countertop, appliances, and floor gleam shiny-bright. Next, re-clean the bathroom, making sure you get a high-def reflection of your face in the reflection of their gleaming surfaces.
Inspect the plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom carefully looking for signs of leaks (visible or otherwise), mold or mildew. Inspect walls and closets to see if there are any holes in the drywall that need repair. Make sure all window locks function properly and replace burned out lightbulbs in every room.
Have carpets cleaned or replaced.
[ ] Spackle any holes in the walls from picture hanging hardware or irresponsible dart games, and apply a fresh coat of paint to the walls (and the ceilings if they need it).
[ ] Download the UpKeep maintenance app for property managers.
Check out the unit’s exterior. Clean or re-paint the front door.
[ ] Sweep the patio if the apartment has one, and sweep the front door entrance area. If there’s a doormat, shake off any debris or just throw it away if it’s irretrievably dirty. If the rental property is a single-family home, use the hose or rent a pressure washer to clean sidewalks, the driveways, porch and patio areas. Clean debris out of the gutters, check the siding to see if any areas need cleaning or paint touch-ups. Trim unruly bushes, mow the lawn (or have it mowed). Walk the property checking for anything you may have missed. If everything’s good, then you can say that you’ve done some good investment property management today.