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Navigating Tenant Turnover: Strategies for Smooth Transitions

Tenant turnover can be a stressful and time-consuming process. You know you’re losing money, both on the vacancy and the repairs and updates that need to be made between tenants, so you want to get through it as quickly as possible. 

But, you want to be thorough. You want to be sure you’re ending the current tenancy on good terms and moving into a new leasing period with a property that’s in great condition. 

As you transition one tenant out of your rental home and begin to prepare it for a new resident, it’s important to stay on top of trends in the rental industry and the local market so you can find your new renters quickly and efficiently. 

To help make the entire turnover process easier and more organized, we've put together some strategies for streamlining what needs to be done. 

Here’s how to navigate tenant turnover in your Los Angeles rental property. 

Check Your Lease Agreement

As the lease period comes to an end, you’ll want to begin preparing ahead of time. The first thing you’ll want to do is to check your lease agreement so you know how much notice the tenant is required to give, and what the process will be to move them out or to negotiate a lease renewal. 

In your lease, you’ll have stipulated how much notice a tenant must give before moving out of the property. It’s typically 30 or 60 days. Pay attention to that window of time so you can get organized and reach out to the tenant if you don’t hear from them first. 

You’ll only have a turnover to deal with when your tenant does not renew the lease and they choose to move out. At this point, you’ll accept their Notice to Vacate. This can be a written email or a letter that tells you they won’t be renewing the lease agreement. Once you receive that, you’ll want to:

  • Let your tenants know you received it. 

  • Ensure the notice is within the appropriate timeframe as established by your lease agreement. 

  • Send instructions and a checklist so your departing tenants know what they’ll need to do in order to get their security deposit back.

You’ll want to know the exact date your tenants are moving out so you can begin to plan your inspection, your repairs, and any marketing that you’ll need to do ahead of re-renting your home.

Most tenants don’t use a formal Notice to Vacate, but it can be helpful if you have a form ready for them to fill out and submit if and when they do decide to leave. Provide this to them at move-in so they can keep it handy. You can also send it to them once they email you to let you know they’ll be leaving. While that email can serve as a Notice to Vacate, when you provide a form, you can be sure you’re collecting all of the information that you  need, specifically their exact move-out date and a forwarding address so you can return the security deposit. 

Working with your Tenants on the Move-Out

Once you have the move-out date, you can begin working backwards to make preparations and communicate with your existing tenant. When you accept their Notice to Vacate, provide a move-out checklist so they know what you expect from them before they leave. 

Remember that in California, you must offer your departing tenants a pre-move out inspection or walk through. In (Civil Code § 1950.5(f)), it’s also called an Initial Inspection Before Tenant Moves Out. 

A tenant has the right to have you inspect the property before the end of the tenancy. You will walk through the home with your tenant and identify any defects or problems that would justify a deduction from the tenant’s security deposit. This provides the tenants with an opportunity to make the necessary repairs or take care of the required cleaning to avoid those deductions.  

This is not mandatory. Offer it to your tenants, and if they accept your offer, schedule the inspection. 

When the tenant requests an initial inspection, you’ll have to schedule it no earlier than two weeks before the end of the tenancy. You’ll want to leave your tenant time to make any necessary repairs or do any cleaning. Provide at least 48 hours of notice and offer a date and time. You can conduct the inspection without the tenant present, but it’s always better to have them there.

Once this pre-move out inspection is complete, provide your tenant with an itemized statement of necessary repairs and cleaning to avoid security deposit deductions. Provide that statement to your tenant with a copy of the sections of California’s security deposit statute that list lawful uses of tenants’ security deposits. 

After your tenant has moved out, you’ll go back into the property to assess its condition on your own, with all of the tenant’s belongings removed. You might find that there are fewer deductions or you may find that the tenant did nothing. Create a report and an itemized statement similar to the one you did during the pre-move out inspection. 

If your tenant does not request or agree to the pre-movement inspection, you’ll conduct the inspection on your own after they have vacated the home. 

Budgeting for Los Angeles Rental Property Turnovers 

Turnovers are often more expensive than you think they’ll be, and that’s due to a number of reasons. First, there’s always going to be a vacancy period. Even a week without rent coming in will be a disruption to your cash flow and your profitability. 

There’s also the cost of utilities, security, and upkeep such as landscaping and cleaning. 

When you don’t have tenants living in your property, there’s no one to pay the electric bill, the water bill, and the trash or sewer costs. Those will fall to you. It’s unreasonable to keep everything turned off because the vendors and contractors coming inside to paint, repair, and upgrade will need electricity. When prospective tenants come to see the home, they’ll want to turn on lights and sinks. 

Your property will likely feel a bit vulnerable, too, when it’s unoccupied. There’s no one living there to alert you to a leak that might have begun or a problem with the roof. You might want to install some security measures to ensure the property is safe. Security cameras, for example, or a video doorbell can be helpful.

Prepare for these out-of-pocket costs during tenant transitions. Budget for the costs of vacancy as well as the repairs you may need and the general wear and tear issues that will need to be resolved. 

Turnover Costs and Scheduling: Repairs, Replacements, and Upgrades

You’ll use these turnover periods to make repairs and to consider investing in any upgrades and updates that your property may need in order to be competitive on the market. You’ll have to pay for any of the normal wear and tear that occurs during a tenancy. Your departing tenants will be accountable for any damage that was caused while they were in residence. It’s appropriate to pay for those repairs and replacements with the tenant’s security deposit. 

Make sure you’ve carefully documented any of the damage that you find. You’ll send an itemized list of the charges you’ve made, with an explanation of why you’ve made them.

In order to save money and move quickly, you’ll want your vendors and contractors to get to work as soon as the property is vacant. 

Immediate Marketing and Advertising to New Tenants

Marketing StrategyLimiting your vacancy time is necessary in order to maximize what you earn on your rental property. Think about your marketing strategy even before your tenants move out. 

If you have a great program of online advertising and you’re responsive to every potential tenant who calls with questions or to schedule a showing, you’re likely going to have a shorter turnover period. If you wait a few days before listing the home for rent online and you’re slow to respond to inquiries, your turnover period will be a lot longer. 

New marketing photos may be necessary. Your description may have to be updated. Get your marketing plan in place so you’re ready to list the home once it’s clean, repaired, and welcoming to potential tenants. Think of new ways to reach potential tenants. Invest in a social media presence. Consider self-showing technology. 

Navigating the tenant turnover process can feel like a headache, but it does not have to be stressful. When you’re moving one resident out and another in, work with experienced Los Angeles property managers. Bell Properties can help you have a more affordable, more efficient turnover period. We’ll help you move out one tenant, reconcile the security deposit, and then begin preparing the home for a new tenant. We’ll take care of rekeying the home, getting it ready to rent, and strategizing the entire marketing and leasing process. 

We work quickly and expertly. For help with your turnover process, please contact us at Bell Properties. We’d be happy to tell you more.