The move-out process can be sticky for both tenants and Las Vegas rental property owners. Your renters are in a rush to pack, organize their moving plans, and think about wherever they’re going next. You are likely wondering how quickly you can get the place cleaned, spruced up, and onto the rental sites in search of a new tenant.
Your relationship with your current tenants isn’t over yet, though. You should be committed to helping your tenants move out of your home in a way that puts them at ease and leaves them feeling like they had a good rental experience with you.
As Las Vegas property managers, we’re always working with tenants to move in and out of our properties, and we’ve found that an organized, consistent, and documented process will protect you, your tenants, and your property. It’s better for everything when things are efficient.
Here are some of the steps you should take when you’re moving out your tenants.
First, Accept Your Tenant’s Notice to Vacate
Depending on the language in your lease agreement, tenants are required to give you a certain amount of notice before they leave the property. Perhaps the renewal date is approaching and they’re letting you know that they won’t renew. The lease will tell them how much notice is required, and they should put something in writing that tells you they’re leaving and what their move-out day will be.
If you get this information from your tenants in a phone call, ask them to make a formal written notice to vacate. It can be an email or even a text message. You simply want to have something documented, and that’s hard to do with a conversation.
Once you know the move-out date, you’ll be able to schedule your move-out walk-through and prepare to have any necessary vendors come in to make the property ready for new tenants.
Remind Your Las Vegas Tenants of Move-Out Requirements
Your lease agreement should include information about what you’ll expect from the tenants when they move out. But, don’t rely on them to go back and review the lease documents. Instead, provide them with a list of what they’ll need to do. You should focus especially on cleaning. At the beginning of the lease, you provided your tenants with a property that was clean and functioning. Your expectation is that they will return the property in similar condition.
Your move-out checklist should include the following:
- Instructions to move everything out of the property before they leave. You don’t want to walk into the home and find a lot of trash still in the kitchen, or a futon in the living room that never made it out the front door. Tell your tenants, in their move-out checklist, to ensure all closets, cupboards, cabinets, drawers, and outdoor spaces are empty. Let them know that anything left behind will be removed and the removal fee will be charged to their security deposit.
- Remind tenants to check inside the appliances when they’re cleaning out the home. We often see tenants forgetting that they had dishes in the dishwasher or food in the freezer. Ask your departing residents to clean out the microwave and wipe down the inside of the fridge. Have them run the dishwasher so it gets cleaned out. They should remove dust and grease from the range and range hood.
- Additional items on your required cleaning list should include wiping down faucets and knobs. Floors should be swept. If your home is carpeted, your lease agreement may require carpet cleaning. Be sure to collect a receipt from the work from your tenants.
When your tenants have pets, you’ll need additional instructions that speak to the potential for pet damage and cleaning.
Ask that all messes are cleaned up and pet hair is removed from the carpet. Trash should be collected or dumped before moving out, and you’ll need to know when the utilities are turned off so you can put them back on under your own account.
The correspondence you send your tenants should also include instructions on how they should return keys and other property to you, such as garage door openers or pool and gym keys if your property is in a community with those amenities. You can require that your tenants drop them off to you in person, or you can ask tenants to leave them in the home before they leave. Specific instructions will prevent them from being confused about where you want the keys.
Don’t forget to ask for their forwarding address. Tenants are sometimes hesitant to share this, but explain that you’ll be mailing back the security deposit.
Conduct a Move-Out Walk Through of Your Property
After your tenants have vacated the home completely, you’ll want to get inside and conduct a walk-through. During this walk-through, you’ll determine what kind of work repairs need to be made in order to rent the property out again.
It’s important to understand the difference between wear and tear and tenant damage.
Wear and tear is your responsibility as the property owner, and you cannot hold the tenant responsible for paying to make those repairs and replacements. Wear and tear is the natural and gradual deterioration of the property over time. It’s a result of any tenant’s normal use of the home, and it would happen no matter who was living there. Every home is prone to wear and tear, so tenants are not charged to make those repairs.
A good example of wear and tear is carpet. If there’s a lot of wear on the carpet in high-traffic areas like hallways, most people will consider that to be general wear and tear. If the paint has small holes in the walls from pictures that tenants hung, that’s considered wear and tear as well. Scuff marks on that paint from where a piece of furniture was against the wall will be considered wear and tear.
Damage is different, and the financial responsibility of your tenant. You can hold them accountable by using their security deposit to pay for any damage they caused.
Sometimes it’s hard to judge the difference between wear and tear and damage. If you did a thorough move-in walk through, you should get some help determining what you’re looking at. The move-in report documented the condition of your home before the tenants took possession. So, compare the condition then to the condition now. Inspect the photos and take new photos. What do they show?
Consider the extent of the repairs that the property needs, the length of time that your tenant lived at the home, and the structure and condition of the home. You’ll also want to look for unauthorized changes. If a tenant painted a wall, for example, and didn’t return that wall to its original color, you can charge the security deposit for new paint.
Make sure your documentation is in order. Any time you use the security deposit to pay for repairs, you’ll need to prove that it was more than wear and tear. Take photos.
Bring in Your Vendors to Get the Work Done
After the walk-through is complete and you’ve effectively documented all damage and wear and tear, you’ll need to schedule the necessary work. Hopefully, you have a team of excellent vendors who can work quickly to get the repairs made, the painting done, and your property ready to rent again.
It’s essential to have an accurate record of costs so that if you’re charging the security deposit, you can establish what exactly your costs were.
Have all maintenance taken care of, and then have the property professionally cleaned. Once that’s done, you’re ready to market your home for a new tenant.
Managing the Security Deposit Return
In Nevada, you have 30 days to return your tenant’s security deposit. That’s 30 days from the time they moved out.
If you keep your tenant’s deposit or any portion of it, you’ll have to provide an itemized list of what was deducted and why it was necessary. Send the deposit as well as the itemized list and copies of invoices to the forwarding address your tenant provided.
This should complete the move-out process for your Las Vegas rental property, but it’s possible your tenants will get in touch to dispute the security deposit refund or lack thereof.
Even if you have strong evidence that supports why you made the charge, always be willing to talk to them. Otherwise, your tenants could take you to court, and that’s an ordeal you don’t want to deal with, especially if the conflict is over a $100 cleaning charge.
The move-out process includes a lot of details and moving parts. You have to move quickly for many reasons, and you also want to maintain good communication and a positive relationship with your departing tenant.
If you’d like some help working through all of this, we’re here for you. Please contact us at New West Property Management. We’re passionate about the services and value we provide to the owners and investors who trust us with their properties. Our team expertly manages residential rental homes in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.