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How to Prepare for the Rental Turnover

by Brad Katronis

The following presents a detailed guide to prepare rental units for prospective tenants. We've looked at this processes very thoroughly to ensure you get the best results through this process. Enjoy!

Step 1: Informal Walk Through

There are several scenarios where you may decide to list your property for rent, such as:

  • You live in the property, decide to move, and keep the property to rent
  • You have current tenants who are moving
  • You purchase an investment property to rent for income and appreciation gains

In all scenarios, you should perform an informal walk through, looking for major issues and thinking through the high level preparation to rent the property.

Things to consider

Consideration #1: Will there be any issues in moving out the current residents? Perhaps you have an unruly tenant who could damage the place when they move? If this is the case, you’ll want to focus on two inspections:

  1. When the tenant is still in the property, to inform them of potential deductions from the security deposit.
  2. Immediately after the tenant moves, to determine the work required to turnover the unit.

Consideration #2: Is there major damage which needs to be addressed that may require a prolonged repair period? For example, a new kitchen which requires a minimum 2 month renovation before listing the rental?

Consideration #3: Are there any repairs or items to address that require a specialized material or trade to schedule in advance? If you give yourself time to source, then you will get a better deal on surplus materials for the renovation.

Make a list of the items to address, perhaps divide it into tasks you need to start immediately, and tasks which can wait until the residence is vacant.

What to Inspect

General infrastructure:
This is always the first thing you should inspect, as it is the foundation for everything else. Some examples:

  1. Major settling issues with the foundation?
  2. Rot from moisture or insects?
  3. Mechanical systems malfunctioning well or needing updates?
  4. Roof near its life expectancy?
  5. Safety system not up to code?

Finishings: These are not as essential, but address them proactively to save money in the long run and attract better tenants. Some examples:

  1. Repainting the walls?
  2. Cleaning and re-sealing the grout?
  3. Installing new light fixtures?
  4. Touching up worn out baseboards?
  5. Repairing screens?
  6. Washing windows?
  7. Changing air filters?
  8. Cleaning the carpets?

Landscaping: You want to take a solid look at the landscaping. Keep in mind seasonal fluctuations (i.e. during the winter, consider how the yard will look during the summer):

  1. Are fences in good condition?
  2. Is the yard overgrown?

In fact, while the unit is empty may be the best time to perform seasonal maintenance. Refer to our guides for the maintenance to be done during these times.

Spring Rental Maintenance Guide

Autumn Rental Maintenance Guide

Step 2: Coordinate Trades & Materials for Repair

There may be a time delay from when the unit is available for repairs and when a prospective tenant can view or move into the rental. The best advice is to solicit estimates, contract with trades, and schedule work as far in advance as possible. As a rule of thumb: The more price estimates and details you can get in advance, the fewer surprises you will have when you begin the work.

A note on access for inspections and trade estimates:
Tenants may not be receptive to frequent visits to the property for inspections and repairs. You may consider adding a clause allowing visits for showings/inspections while the tenant is still living in the residence. This clause will provide appropriate access to arrange the work and minimize the turnover time. And, while legally you should be able to inspect when necessary, this clause reminds tenants of the fact.

Step 3: Perform Work as Necessary

Note on mitigating rent loss during construction and repairs: To maximize your cash flow, it is best to minimize vacancy. If you plan and organize prudently, you can have most work completed on the rental in a one to three-day window. If you do not allow a couple of days between the repairs or renovations and the new tenant move in, then you should give full disclosure that there may be additional scheduling after the move in, if the work is not completed by the move in date.

There may be certain smaller repairs that can be performed while the existing tenant is still on premise. If you can plan and not inconvenience the existing tenant, then this will help reduce the vacancy.

Step 4: Prepare Cleaners for the Deep Clean

Once you fix larger projects on the rental, the final step is to bring in a professional cleaner. Important: You must set the expectation with the prior tenants that the rental must be returned to the original condition, minus normal wear and tear. This statement signals to prior tenants that they should schedule a professional cleaning. If you do not set this expectation, then there is a higher probability that the tenants will be moving out at the last minute and leave additional work for your team. It is never a bad idea to have their cleaners perform 80 percent of the work and for your cleaners to perform the finishing touches to make it rent ready. Your cleaners will also appreciate you more.

Step 5: Setting Expectations with Incoming Tenants

One of the largest issues with the rental turnover is the communication with the residents. Transparency on the property condition is crucial. The move in condition may be different when it is a Class A property versus a Class D property. Some tenants have the expectation that all of the walls should have a new coat of paint, even if you just repainted the walls last year and they are in great condition. It is important to set expectations with incoming tenants. The best way to do this is to tell tenants that the property condition during the showing will be the condition for move in. Inform them that you do not expect to clean it again, but you will make necessary repairs (e.g. if an appliances is broken). This type of communication will reduce complaints on the formal move in date.


Now, make your list of the top service professionals and get ready to reduce vacancy and have a smoother turnover process.


Photo cred: m0851