Maintenance Corner | August 2022 | “Property turnover”

Turning over a property is crucial in the property management industry. So what does a “turnover” mean? This is the period when one tenant moves out, and the property is vacant until another tenant moves in. During this brief vacancy period, no rent is collected and normally there are repairs being completed so another tenant can move in.

Turnovers typically last around 1- 2 weeks for a single family home and can take less time with a condo being you do not have to complete any exterior work.  However, turnovers can fluctuate in length and can be as short as a few days to several months.

In this current market with labor shortages, our team has found that 2 weeks is the perfect time length to ensure a smooth transition in between residents. This allows us enough time to inspect the property once the vacating tenant moves out, complete any repairs or replacements and professional maid service, then inspect the property again right before the new tenants move in to ensure the vendors completed the repairs correctly and document any defects and normal wear that happens in a property as it ages.

What happens during a turnover?

Our first step is to ensure the electricity is set to stay on after the tenant has their service disconnected. In Gainesville, GRU has a "leave it on service" that the owner applies for so it automatically reverts back to the owner's name once the tenant vacates. However, it is often overlooked and turned off anyway, so it is important to remind the utility company just days prior that it has the "Leave it on" account in place.

Thirty days prior to the tenants lease end, we  send a letter that spells out their responsibilities when vacating, and remind them how to handle the return of the keys and forward address for the return of their security deposit.

Two days prior to the tenant's lease end, we contact them to see if they are on track. On the last day of the lease we confirm they have moved out all belongings and have returned all the keys and garage remotes.

It is important to inspect as soon after the tenant vacates as possible. If the breakers have been turned off or the electric company missed the "leave it on" order, and there is food in the refrigerator, or a swimming pool that needs the pump running, etc. it can lead to more costly damage. 

Our move-out inspections are thorough as they should be. This includes a full inspection of the exterior and interior of the property. The agent will check lighting, plumbing, garage doors, lawn care, AC filter, window sills, open all cabinets and vanities, check all appliances, etc. and the overall cleanliness of the home.

(Photo below is from a move out inspection where our team checks the condition of the filter to ensure it is clean and also notes the filter size to ensure future residents continue to use the correct size)

We then walk through again, we video the full move out inspection plus take photos of any damages. This allows us to then review the inspection more thoroughly as a team, note any non-important cosmetic flaws to the future tenants, and to compare the inspection with our previous move-in inspection video to determine what was caused by normal wear and tear and what was caused by tenant negligence. These detailed videos are usually at least 10 minutes in length and can be as long as 25-30 minutes.

(Below is an example of a recent turnover where we found normal wear and tear. The resident had lived in the home for a long time, so we expected the home would need to be fully painted)

(The after photo below shows we painted the walls with a warm neutral putty color and installed/painted baseboards)

What happens next?

After we have inspected the property, we install a lockbox on the door so that vendors can access the property for any repairs/replacements and cleaning that are needed. The inspector is sure to upload the full video on the same day as the inspection and begins entering maintenance requests to be completed before a new tenant moves in. Our team works quickly to ensure the property is fully ready for move-in within that 2 week span.

We take care of all maintenance and painting and lawn care first then maid service and finally carpet cleaning last. This is to make sure vendors do not dirty the home from going in and out after the property has been professionally cleaned.

Below is usually a list of common repairs/cleaning needed:

  • Maintenance punch list ensuring all fixtures, appliances and plumbing are working properly 
  • Partial or full painting depending on condition and last time home was fully painted
  • Change AC filter
  • Lawn service
  • Replace burnt light bulbs
  • Repair torn window screens
  • Repair or adjust bifold closet doors as needed
  • Change out carpeting (if heavily worn or cannot remove stains after cleaning)
  • Maid service
  • Carpet cleaning

Below is a list of average life for different appliances/paint/carpet/etc in a rental. We have found the newer appliances are not lasting as long as the older better built ones did. 

  • Carpet - 5-7  years depending on grade
  • Vinyl flooring - 10-20 years depending on grade (might need repairs in between replacement)
  • Refrigerator - 4-10 years depending on model
  • Oven - 5-13 years
  • Microwave - 5-8 years
  • Dishwasher - 3-10 years (yes, crazy how fast these go)
  • Full paint - 5-7 years -Depending on how many turnovers
  • Lawn care - full clean up (remove weeds, clean up flower beds, mulch, mow, edge, trim trees and  shrubs away from home, etc) in between tenancies

(The photo below shows the bathroom vinyl flooring was cracked and needed to be replaced after over 10 years of use)

(The after photo below shows the bathroom flooring was replaced with upgraded vinyl wood which gave the bathroom a more updated look)

What is charged to the tenant?

We always strives to find fairness between owners and tenants. We never want to overcharge or undercharge a resident for any damages. What we charge against their deposit depends on several factors. We first note all of the damages during the move-out inspection. We then watch the full move-in inspection from when they moved into the home to see if any of the damages were already existing prior to move in.

If the damages were not existent upon move-in, our team then has to ensure the damage was caused by tenant negligence and was listed as a responsibility in their lease. For example, if a property is left dirty or carpets need to be cleaned, that is a tenant responsibility since their lease states that the home must have professional maid service and carpets must be professionally cleaned. If there are large holes in the wall (not just normal nail holes), that would also be charged to the resident.

(Photo below shows normal wear and tear like rusted shower heads which we recommend replacing depending on the condition)

Not every issue is black and white which is why it is important to have a lot of experience in the Florida Landlord Tenant Law and dealing with security deposits when evaluating move-out inspections. Our team is highly trained in looking for not only obvious damages but also negligent use of appliances. For example, if an oven was recently replaced in the last 2-3 years and now has scratches on the glass cook top that were not there upon move-in, that would be a tenant charge since it depreciates the value and life span of the appliance.

(Photo below shows how important it is to check under cabinets to make sure it has been professionally cleaned and also to check for any potential plumbing leaks)

What happens after damages are noted?

Now that the damages have been noted and maintenance requests have been submitted, we begin contacting vendors and setting strict timelines to ensure the property is ready for the next set of tenants. It is so important to have trusted vendors who will place our work as top priority. These are relationships that we have nurtured over the years. They understand our expectations and work quickly and efficiently while providing fair pricing.

Once all repairs and cleaning is completed, we schedule a time to inspect the property again. We usually inspect the home about 2-3 days before the new tenants move in. This allows enough time to make sure all repairs are completed, home is clean, video is uploaded by the inspector, and the link to the move-in inspection is shared with the new residents so they know we have made sure their new home is in tip-top shape for their day of move in.

When the new tenant moves in we invite them to do their own inspection and send us a copy and we add it to their move in folder. We also ask them to submit a maintenance request for any additional repairs needed, if any.  Additionally, we invite them to submit a wishlist of things they feel will help maintain the property value and/or longevity.

This allows our team to address their concerns right away and to determine if it was caused by the previous tenant before we process their security deposit. We legally have 30 days to send out a claim of charges via certified mail to the previous tenant (15 days to send out their deposit if there are no damages/charges). Therefore, it is imperative that we work quickly and thoroughly to complete this step.

It is very important that you start your new tenant relationship out on a good foot with a very clean and well prepared property.  They need to know that you care about the property staying in top condition and want them to report any problems asap. If you don't prepare the property correctly, you are sending a message that you do not care about the property and in turn they also won't care for it.

We provide a tenant portal for our tenants to submit maintenance requests along with pictures. This gives us a time/date stamp documenting the problem so there are no misunderstandings as to what was reported. This also avoids complaints that a maintenance need was reported but not addressed, and makes it easy to job out and schedule maintenance that is needed during the tenant's occupancy.

We have to walk a very tight line to keep the tenants happy so they take care of the home and renew their lease. At the same time keeping the owners happy by maximizing their cashflow and maintaining/improving the property's value is essential. It is not an easy job, but we love it and do it well.  Give us a call if you would like us to handle your property for you so you can spend more quality time with your family and less time worrying about management. Mention this article and get two months of management fees for free!

Example of a turnover:

( Before the Turnover Photo )

( After Photo - kitchen was renovated with new counter tops and painted cabinets to completely refresh and update the overall appearance)

Here's a video of the same property from the move out inspection photos after the turnover.

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