Tenant-led move-outs — or how to remotely manage in the Airbnb age

Remote Turn Overs

Your tenant’s lease ends next month. They’re moving. You’re thousands of miles away. What do you do?

Here are a few suggestions to minimize the transition period while quickly ushering in next occupant.

  • Advertise early —

Suggest to your existing tenant they consider allowing new prospective tenants to view the location during their final months. If your property sits in a hot market, new tenants will gladly rearrange schedules to meet the requirements of the outgoing tenant. However, there is a word of caution: Make it easy for the outgoing tenant. They are under no obligation to allow this. Also, be aware there may be a liability issue should the ‘showings’ damage their effects.

  • Leverage real estate platforms to facilitate correspondence (text, email)

Use one of many free online platforms to advertise the availability of your property at least 45-60 days before lease termination. Direct interested parties to email you (only). Arrange ‘showings’ all on one day, say on a Saturday. *note: very interested parties will make themselves known. Most individuals use smartphones, so communicating via text and email is a good option.

  • Update your monthly lease amount, for a one-year term

Again, many free online services guide the current range for your area if you are unsure.

  • Arrange a move-out inspection with the outgoing tenant.

It is best that you be present and lead this walk-through. If this is not possible, skip to letter ‘c’ below.

Either way, this final inspection is eased considerably by a. providing the tenant a copy of their ‘move-in’ inspection, and b: encouraging the tenant to be diligent by speeding up the return of their security deposit.

If you, a remote manager, are unable to be present for the inspection consider one of the following options.

a. hire a local real estate professional to do this. If this realtor is also locating your new tenant, the ‘cost’ for this should be about one month’s rent. The physical presence of a pro during the handover is essential.

b. if you have trustworthy relatives, friends, neighbors have them perform the inspection and sign off.

c. if you have the courage, have the tenant take several photos of the interior/exterior and perform their inspection. Your trust in this person is vital. Remind them that you will verify their assessment. Go over details with them, like shampooing carpets, cleaning ovens and ensuring functional and closed window coverings. Have them mail they keys, fobs & remotes back to you. I’ve done this before. In the world of Airbnb, self-evaluations of the property are not as ludicrous as they appear.

  • Set a lock box with a remote key.

If you’ve equipped your house with a smart lock, this step is already complete.

  1. Transfer the utilities to you. Inform the HOA. Set up/Reactivate internet and wifi.
  2. Hire a cleaning company

You are on the hook anyway to clean the house, so paying a few dollars for a professional are funds well spent. However, this company will also be a 2nd set of eyes for you as you will have them perform a room-by-room detail of the condition of the home. Tell them your intent, and have them take photos.

  • Have handymen, painters, and contractors perform repairs.

Filters need changing on HVACs, Range-top grease filters need replacing, basic landscaping can always enhance a unit, rooms may need to be re-painted, carpets need a deep cleaning (or replaced entirely). Some appliances may need replacing and serving. Allow entry via remote access verifies their arrival, and reference their invoices and photos for later.

  • Allow prospective tenants to view the home while repairs are underway.

Many landlords also require them to complete an application around the same time. Self-led viewings are also advantageous, with or without the contractor present.

  • Sign a new lease.

Have the new tenant perform a self-inspection and return it to you within one week of their move in. Once you have a confirmed move in date, transfer those utilities back to them. Many ‘State-specific’ templates exist online, and all smartphones allow users to sign documents. If the internet is included as part of your lease (which I recommend), be sure the tenant resets any routers and passwords.

Wella. What do you think? I’d welcome any comments.