Resident turnover is a fact of life for most multifamily residential property owners and managers. Unfortunately, resident move-outs are sometimes fraught with conflicts and difficulties over issues such as deposit refunds and standards of cleanliness when a property is vacated.
With some experts suggesting that a 50 percent turnover rate reflects the industry average, this means that many property management teams face continuous challenges when residents move out, and sometimes find themselves with significant repair bills when tenants fail to properly care for a residence.
The good news is that proactive owners and managers can minimize inherent difficulties in the move-out process. The tips below can help in these efforts:
Clarify expectations up front: To ensure a smooth transition for both residents and property owners, the most critical time for communication occurs not when residents are moving out, but rather when they are moving into a multifamily property. The move-in inspection represents an ideal time to clearly communicate policies. Residents should also understand the current costs for cleaning, paint, carpet or other repairs (and the possibility that rates may rise) so that they are not surprised by charges - and possibly resistant to paying them - during the move-out process.
Document important details: Beyond clearly communicating to residents in advance about move-out policies and costs, an important step is documenting the state of a property. Capturing photographic evidence by taking pictures at both move-in and move-out ensures that all parties are on the same page with any issues.
Create a cleaning checklist: Property owners and managers should also create specific checklists that detail cleaning requirements, and provide them both during move-in and when it's time for a resident to move out. If the property is damaged beyond normal repair and cannot be cleaned using standard methods, it should be communicated clearly that residents would be responsible for excess costs.
Safeguard your reputation: A previously harmonious relationship with tenants may sour during a difficult move-out process, which can in turn lead to poor online and word-of-mouth reviews. Because part of operating a successful multifamily property requires maintaining a strong reputation, it's important to have a good feedback loop with residents throughout their time with you, and especially during the move-out process. If difficulties do arise, property owners and managers should actively try to find ways to resolve issues so that residents can walk away with a positive perception of the property.
By emphasizing communication - both during move-in and especially during the move-out process - and clarifying expectations and seeking necessary feedback, multifamily property owners will find that the move-out process runs more smoothly for everyone involved.