When a Tenant Moves Out – Part 2

Posted on June 29, 2011 by

When Tenants Move Out - Part 2In last week’s column, I shared some of our secrets we use to get our rental properties back from our residents (tenants) in a clean, ready-to-rent condition.  Today, let’s finish up.

One of the easiest ways to get your rental trashed is to insist that your “tenant” stay in the property because the “contract” says so.  It’s a case of you telling the tenant, “You’re gonna stay and pay!” and the tenant saying, “You wanna bet?!”

Folks, though most of our leases run for a year, I NEVER want a resident staying in one of our homes for one day longer than they want to be there!  With this in mind, we have “out” language in our lease agreement.  It simply says: If a resident wants to end the lease, just give us a 30-day written notice and pay an amount equal to one month’s rent.  (NOTE:  To be fair, we, as landlords, can cancel the lease using this same formula.)

But what if the resident refuses to pay the extra month’s rent?  Stay focused on your primary goal: Getting the property back in a clean, ready-to-rent condition.  You achieve this goal by working with the resident, not pointing to a piece of paper and screaming, “But the contract says…!”

Once we learn a resident is moving, I get very hands-on.  Immediately, I meet with the resident at his kitchen table.  Over glasses of sweet tea, I let the resident know that my main goal to make sure he gets back ALL of his security deposit.  I give him a copy of his Move-in Inspection Form and we go around the house looking for any new damage that he didn’t list on the form when he moved in.

If we find any additional damage – stains on the carpet, nail holes in the wall, etc. – I make a list of the damage and let the resident know that he needs to repair the additional damage.  I also show him pictures of what the home looked like – inside and out – on the day he moved in…it was spotless!  The key is to make sure he knows – if he wants to get his security deposit back – what the home needs to look like when he gives us back the keys.

For the next several weeks, I visit with the resident at least once a week.  I continually encourage him and remind him how great it will be when he gets back ALL of his security deposit.

Once the resident moves out, we meet at the property and fill out a Move-out Inspection Form.  This is a CRITICAL document to complete!  According to Georgia Code, the line below where the resident signs on the form, it must read: If Tenant dissents with any items on this list, Tenant shall state specifically in writing the items of this list in which Tenant dissents and sign such statement of dissent.

If you worked with the resident the way you should, he’ll sign without issue.  And most importantly of all, he’ll get back his full security deposit and you’ll get your property back in clean, ready-to-rent condition.

Hope this helps you to be a more effective landlord.

Bill & Kim CookBill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.



  1. gordon catts says:

    Great article A friend says that he doesn’t call them tenants either. He remembers that they are ultimately funding his retirement.

Leave a Reply