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DESTINY PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LLC

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
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We make it easy for you to spend more time on things you love instead of handling your rental properties.

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PROFIT WITH MINIMAL EFFORT

It can be overwhelming to manage several rental properties at once. Enjoy the profit your properties bring without all of the hassle that comes with managing it. Leave the job to destiny property management LLC instead.


We offer comprehensive property management services to clients in selected areas in New York. Book a consultation with us for more details or contact us for a free quote or estimate.

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT IN NASSAU AND SUFFOLK COUNTY

For professional property management services in Suffolk County, Nassau County, and Queens look no further than Destiny Property Management. We treat your property as if it were our own.


We manage various types of properties, from single-family homes to apartment complexes. As a real estate investor, we understand you need a dependable company to manage your investment.


We have more than 10 years of experience helping property owners manage their homes in New York.  

WHY CHOOSE US

We are a home-grown company that real estate investments require full-time attention. To efficiently manage our properties, we have strategically centralized our location to service New York and its neighboring areas.


We will work with you and tailor-fit your requirements to our services. We provide support to our clients by offering rent collection, tenant screening, property inspections, marketing your rentals, providing maintenance and repairs and providing monthly financial reporting.

HIGHLY EXPERIENCED

Our management team has the training and more than 10 years of experience to free owners from the worries and problems of managing rental properties. We have a great track record of managing underperforming properties, identifying what is needed to improve performance, and create and execute a tailored turn-around plan.


5 ways to collect on a judgment

Collecting on a judgment bad news: your tenant left owing you money.

The good news: you just won a money judgment in court against that tenant.

Time to celebrate?

Not really.

Although you’re supposed to get the money your tenant owes you after you win a money judgment, actually getting the money is another matter.

It’s not always easy to collect money on a judgment.

The court’s job ends with the judgment. Collecting on that judgment is on you. Your ex-tenant might pay you immediately, and if so, great. Now it is time to celebrate. But what do you do if they don’t?

Related: How to file a small claims lawsuit against your landlord or renter

1. Ask for it

This simple solution often works. Draft a letter to your ex-tenant requesting the money.

Let this person know what they owe you.

Tell them if they don’t pay by X date, you will begin a collection process.

Mention that if you begin a collection process, the transaction will appear on their credit report.

You might wish to remind your ex-tenant that having a collection on their credit report will make it difficult to rent another place or to obtain a mortgage.

Many tenants, not wanting their credit affected, will pay.

2. Garnish wages

Almost every state allows wage garnishment, a process that allows creditors to take up to 25 percent of a debtor’s wages until the debt is paid. You must know where your ex-tenant works to do this. You might have this information on the application your ex-tenant filled out. The rest of the procedure varies by state, but typically, you do the following:

Go to your local courthouse and ask for a garnishment order.

This goes to your ex-tenant’s employer.

The employer then withholds money from your ex-tenant’s paycheck until the debt is paid to you.

3. Garnish bank account

Similar to wage garnishment, you must know something about your ex-tenant—in this case where they bank—and ideally, their bank account number. You might have some bank information on the application your ex-tenant filled out, or you can get the information from a cancelled check. If your tenant paid you by check, then you have it. If not, you might be able to find someone who has received a check by your ex-tenant. You then go to your local courthouse and follow the procedure for garnishing the bank account.

4. Request information from the court

If you don’t know where your ex-tenant works or where they bank, you can request a formal procedure at your local courthouse, usually called a “debtor’s examination.” Your ex-tenant might then be ordered to fill out a form that lists their employer and bank information. Or they may be subpoenaed to appear before the court at a hearing to answer your questions. You will have the opportunity to find out the information you will need to collect money:

Where they work

The contact information of their employer

Where they bank

Their bank account number

5. Hire a collection agency

You’ll have to pay to use a collection agency, but recovering some of your money is better than receiving nothing. Unfortunately, the odds of a collection agent being successful in collecting money your tenant owes you are not that good. But you can increase your chances by hiring a recommended and reputable collection agency that specializes in working with landlords. Ask your lawyer, accountant, or other professional you know for a referral.

Related: The problem with collection agencies

The bottom line

Sure, you can collect on a judgment. But there’s no guarantee you’ll be successful or whether it will be worth your time and effort to pursue the money. Only you can make that determination based on how much your tenant owes you and on how busy you are. In most jurisdictions, you have between five and 20 years to collect. So if you’re not up to the job now, or if your ex-tenant has no assets at this time, you might be able to collect your money in the future.

The best course of action is to screen your tenants before renting to them. There’s no guarantee you won’t be burned when you screen tenants, but your chances of renting to a deadbeat tenant are lessened. Keep in mind that the Destiny Property Management tenant screening process is free for landlords, and I highly recommend it.


How to screen a foreign-born or international rental applicant?

FlagsAs a landlord, one of your primary goals is to find high-quality tenants, often leveraging a credit check service to determine creditworthiness. But it’s not always easy, especially if your applicant is a with a foreigner or international student?

What happens if they don’t have a Social Security number?

What do you do when you have an applicant who recently moved to the U.S. and doesn’t have a Social Security number? Or they were recently issued a Social Security number, so there is limited US credit data behind it?

Immigrants are everywhere

This challenge is only growing. Immigrants make up nearly 14 percent of the U.S. population, and are expected to drive 74 percent of all U.S. population growth by 2065. Each year, 2 million immigrants arrive in the U.S., and 75 percent of these new arrivals are looking to rent. 45 percent of foreign-born arrivals are college educated; they often move to the U.S. for jobs, command high salaries, and have good credit history overseas.

Foreign credit doesn’t mean bad credit

The highly educated foreign-born tend to command higher incomes and have prime or super-prime credit. However, because they can’t carry over their credit history from their home countries, they have thin credit profiles in the U.S., and are locked out of the U.S. rental market. And while they are credit-worthy and make for high-quality borrowers, it makes it difficult for new-to-country residents to rent an apartment.

In turn, it makes it challenging for landlords to rent to these ideal tenants. Landlords are forced to go through a highly manual, tedious process to pull together disparate documents to understand the applicant’s creditworthiness, often relying on things like utility bills, income statements, bank statements, and alternative data that may be in a foreign language and currency.

There is one company that provides international credit reports to independent landlords. Nova Credit is a cross-border credit bureau that provides instant access to international credit profiles.

Nova Credit pulls data from leading international credit bureaus such as Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, CRIF, and Circulo de Credito. It’s free for property managers, and allows for real-time screening of international resident applicants.

Similar in format to a standard U.S. consumer credit report, the data is post-processed to be compliant with U.S. regulation and is standardized across countries.

The Credit Passport includes:

U.S. equivalent credit score

Aggregate risk attributes

Tradelines and repayment history

Derogatory marks

Aggregate statistics

Additional data such as bureau notices, inquiries and employment history

By accessing international credit reports, landlords can better identify high-quality, foreign-born applicants. By unlocking foreign credit data in the U.S., property managers and landlords are able to:

Increase occupancy rates. Convert highly qualified applicants seamlessly to maximize net operating income (NOI).

Reduce operational costs. Decrease the amount of time and money spent manually screening applicants.

Improve risk management. Distinguish between good and bad tenants to ensure great long-term tenants across your portfolio. In turn, you can better manage risk and reduce bad debt across your portfolio.

Accessing an international credit profile also benefits foreign-born applicants. New-to-country applicants may also be able to remove approval conditions such as paying a higher deposit, securing a guarantor / co-signer—or worse, being overlooked entirely because of a lack of U.S. credit history.

Harnessing new technology and reliable data, international credit profiles can help save time and money for property managers and tenants alike. It’s a win for both parties.lick this text to start editing. This block is a basic combination of a title and a paragraph. Use it to welcome visitors to your website, or explain a product or service without using an image. Try keeping the paragraph short and breaking off the text-only areas of your page to keep your website interesting to visitors.

Should I allow vaping in my rental property?


Vaping you might not allow smoking within your rental units, but what about vaping with e-cigarettes?

About 15 percent of adults under 40 vape, so you might want to allow vaping in your rental property to attract more tenants. But you should learn all you can about e-cigarettes before you do.

Like regular cigarettes and cigars, e-cigarette emissions leave behind a residue that could build up on the walls and floors over time. Even if you decide to allow vaping indoors, it’s worth considering the extra cleanup work that could result when that vaping tenant moves out. So even if your state permits vaping in many public areas, you might want to restrict their use within your rental units.

Cigarettes versus e-cigarettes: the vapors

E-cigarettes: The vapors emitted from an e-cigarette contain far less nicotine than the smoke blown from a regular cigarette.

Cigarettes: Cigarettes leave behind a nicotine-stained film that discolors everything from walls to furniture. And then there’s that stale cigarette stench that’s notoriously hard to remove from a chain-smoker’s home.

Related: How to Remove Cigarette Odor From Your Rental Property

E-cigarettes: The vapors emitted from an e-cigarette contain just a fraction of the amount of nicotine found in cigarette smoke.

Cigarettes: Cigarette smoke contains a laundry list of harmful chemicals such as lead, arsenic, and formaldehyde.

E-cigarettes: Vapors in e-cigarettes typically contain less harmful chemicals, although they’re still packed full of chemicals.

The main difference, when it comes to residue left behind from smoke or vapor, is that cigarette-smoke residue builds up faster and reeks. It’s also visibly noticeable, since nicotine discolors some surfaces.

Even though vaping doesn’t cause nicotine stains, the vapor still creates a messy buildup. One substance in the vapor is vegetable glycerin, which leaves behind an oily residue. Oils attract dust and small particles, so a home exposed to frequent vaping ends up with a dirty, greasy buildup.

Cleaning concerns

Cleaning up after a smoker typically involves steam-cleaning carpets and curtains, washing non-porous surfaces thoroughly, and repainting the walls. Removing odors could be extremely difficult, depending upon the amount of smoking done indoors.

Cleaning up vaping residue means deep-cleaning carpets, fabrics, and upholstery; washing non-porous surfaces with equal parts water and vinegar; and potentially repainting walls after wiping them down with the vinegar solution. All surfaces could be harder to clean than similar surfaces in a nonsmoker’s unit, thanks to the oily vaping residue.

What about the law?

As is the case with traditional cigarettes, the laws regulating e-cigarettes vary greatly from one region to another.

San Francisco, for instance, bans use of e-cigs wherever traditional cigarettes are banned.

Minneapolis lawmakers, however, believe e-cigarettes do not violate clean-air laws. In Minnesota, landlords decide whether tenants can smoke cigarettes or e-cigs within their units and on-site outdoor spaces. State law prohibits smoking and vaping in common indoor areas of rental properties, however.

Read up on your state’s laws to determine if there’s already a law regulating e-cigarettes and whether that applies to rental housing. If you choose to ban e-cigarettes and similar electronic vaping products, clearly state this in your rental agreement. Define what forms of smoking and vaping you prohibit. Note any areas where vaping is allowed, such as outdoor spaces far away from rental units. Also clarify any bans on vaping in common indoor and outdoor areas.

Fire hazard is real

Vaping doesn’t carry the same fire hazard as falling asleep with a lit cigarette, but it still has its risks. In an eight-year period ending with the close of 2016, 195 vaping-related fires or explosions were reported in the United States. Many of these incidents happened when the device or spare lithium-ion batteries were in the user’s pocket. Other incidents happened while charging the e-cigarette’s batteries. All of the reported problems related specifically to lithium-ion batteries.

The charging incidents in particular are worth noting, as fires could occur while the tenant is away or asleep. Even so, the number of reported incidents is relatively small, considering that more than 3 percent of all U.S. adults vape, according to 2016 statistics.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether allowing e-cigarettes is worth the extra cleanup effort or the potential fire hazards. If you decide to allow vaping, it may be worthwhile to note an extra cleaning charge in the rental agreement. Make sure your tenants are well aware of your vaping and smoking rules before renting to them. A questionnaire asking potential tenants about smoking and vaping habits could help protect your property from careless tenants. They’ll be responsible for any excessive repair or cleanup issues that result during or after their tenancy.

Should you offer a deal to find new tenants?


Incentives when your property can’t seem to keep reliable tenants, you might start to consider ways of sweetening the deal, such as offering incentives.
Your property may be great, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to bouts of bad luck with tenants, increased competition, and environmental nuisances like neighborhood construction projects. When the cards are stacked against you, a discount can help speed up the tenant search and reduce the negative financial effects of vacancies.
The benefit of filling your space may very well be worth the added expense, but make sure you first do a cost-benefit analysis by making sure adding an incentive won’t make your total expenses greater than your total income.
Here are seven practical tips and techniques.
1. Reduce your fees
Review your contract to see if you can be flexible with some of your listed fees. Tenants who review your agreement are likelier to sign on the dotted line if they don’t have to factor an excessive amount of additional costs into their budget. For instance, if you charge for amenities such as laundry or parking, the cost of waiving those fees may be negligible compared to the benefit of winning over a reliable tenant.
If you can manage without the extra income, waive the application fee for background and credit checks. Note that if you use Cozy, applicants are automatically charged for this, but you might apply this charge toward first month’s rent as a way to waive the application fee.
Remember that you’re trying to attract tenants. Applicants have a greater justification for renting with you if they feel like they’re getting a deal they couldn’t find elsewhere. The loss in fee collection is minimal compared to the vacuum of an unoccupied apartment draining your resources.
Of course, make sure that you trust the potential tenant and your screening process before going down this route.
Related: Should I raise the rent on a good tenant?
2. Offer discounted rates
Discounted rates are clearly attractive to potential tenants, but this solution requires some careful math on your end.
Evaluate your expenses and the rates offered by your competition. Compare the costs of offering a monthly reduction against those of an extended vacancy, making sure that your property is still profitable with the deal you offer. Do you have the room to lower your rates if it means signing a tenant more quickly?
You could also offer discounts in return for more convenience. If a tenant can pay rent each month through automatic electronic payments rather than physical checks, for example, you can offer a rent reduction for making your financial life a little easier.
3. Consider a longer or shorter lease
Another way you may discount rates is to offer an extended lease for a lower monthly rate. The longer renters stay with you, the more your risk of extended vacancies is reduced.
The point of an extended lease is to keep your renters making regular contributions to your business. Keep an eye on your local market and any proposed tax changes to assess the risk of settling into a longer-term agreement. While you’ll receive less money for your unit, it may prove more consistent and reliable down the road.
On the other hand, some tenants may not be sure if they’ll be sticking around for a full year. If you need to fill a vacancy now, offering a shorter lease that allows for tenant flexibility may prove beneficial. This is especially true if you’re trying to find a tenant in an off-season. If the shorter lease ends in the summer, for example, you’ll have an easier time finding a more long-term renter.
4. Create more flexible terms
Renting an apartment is an enormous commitment, and a strict lease can turn otherwise excited applicants away. If you relax the terms of your agreement, applicants might feel more secure in deciding to sign with you. And there are small, inexpensive changes you can make to your contract to improve its appeal.
Offer a deal to find new tenants who may be perfectly great renters but crave flexibility that other landlords lack. Pet-friendly apartments are enticing to animal lovers searching for a place that accepts their furry friend. Permission to decorate the property may win some prospective tenants over. Others will find an early lease termination clause appealing, giving them a degree of freedom unavailable from your competitors.
Related: Pet deposits, pet fees and pet rent – what’s the difference?
5. Offer upgrades
If you can’t swing a rate reduction, property upgrades can be a powerful incentive for new tenants. Replacing an old oven with a newer model, painting the walls a more modern color, or increasing storage might win over tenants looking for a fresher living space. Property upgrades create value for you, too, since they will make your rental more attractive for years to come
Be careful not to overspend on a project that will eat away at your profits. After all, you’re still responsible for all maintenance costs down the line. You don’t need to offer lavish upgrades to appeal to new tenants when simple improvements can make an impact. Something as simple as installing more shelving can please a renter without extending your regular budget for new projects.
Related: 7 Affordable Upgrades for Your Rental Properties
6. Put together a gift basket
For those new tenants who have recently signed a lease, welcoming them to your building with a gift basket can be a great first step toward building a friendship. Renters who feel a closer connection with their landlord are more likely to renew their contract once it expires.

 It doesn’t have to cost a lot to look like a nice gesture. Gift cards to local restaurants or the movie theatre, food, or a bottle of wine are all possible options when stocking your gift basket. An edible arrangement can make a good impression on your tenants.
7. Provide a free first month
At first glance, it seems like a ridiculous ask of any landlord. Who in their right mind would sacrifice an entire month’s rent? But consider the money lost on an already vacant unit that’s accruing nothing but dust, and a month of waived rent is well worth the income that will begin to flow in afterward.
Related: 3 reasons you might not want to collect a security deposit
When does offering a deal become a gimmick?
Some potential renters are wary of deals, seeing them as “gimmicks” that a landlord uses to attract the naive and gullible. After all, if the landlord has to offer a deal to find new tenants who will stick around, they might think the property suffers from an issue not explicitly advertised.
This is particularly relevant to No. 5 above. Densely crowded urban areas with high rent prices often have apartments that advertise a free month’s rent in exchange for signing a lease. While this isn’t misleading, these concessions can lead tenants to enter an agreement they’re unable to manage.
As
As
a landlord, you need to fill your rentals. The fortunate news is that there are many ways to accomplish this task. As long as you do it with respect and fairness to everyone involved, you’re well on your way toward managing a happy, busy property.

What to do if the deposit doesn’t cover the damage or unpaid rent

What to do if the deposit doesn’t cover the damage or unpaid rent


You did the right thing in collecting a security deposit. But what happens when that deposit isn’t enough to cover damages or unpaid rent?

Most landlords collect a security deposit equal to one month’s rent at move-in time to cover any damages or unpaid rent at move-out time. But if there were extensive damages to the property or if the tenant left without paying last month’s rent and there were damages, you’re out some money, and that isn’t right.

You have options, though. Let’s explore them.

1. Communicate with your tenant

To legally withhold the security deposit, you must, in most states, send a letter to your tenant explaining why you are holding some or all the deposit. And you must do so within the time limit specified by your state. You can find your state law here.

Here’s a template for documenting and itemizing deductions from the security deposit.

Download a Free Itemized Security Deposit Deduction Form Template

Send this document or one like it to your tenant to let them know why you are withholding some or all the security deposit.

If they still owe you money beyond the security deposit, you’ll also need to send a demand letter.

2. Send a demand letter

Along with sending the itemized list, you need to send a letter asking for what your tenant owes you, called a “demand letter.”

Here’s a sample of a demand letter you can send a tenant who owes you money.

Sample demand letter (when your tenant owes you money)

[Date]

[Tenant’s name]

[Tenant’s address]

Re: Return of security deposit

Dear [tenant’s name],

This letter concerns your security deposit in the amount of [amount of the total deposit] for the premises located at [address of the property] during your lease period of [start and end dates].

I will not be returning your security deposit for the premises located at [address of the property]. I am keeping the security deposit to cover the following:

[Include the itemized list from above.]

The total cost to cover these damages is X.

Because the cost of damages exceeds the security deposit, you owe me X, which represents total damages minus the security deposit, payable immediately.

Please remit your balance to:

[Your name and address]

Sincerely,

[Your name]

[Your signature]

3. Decide whether you should go to small claims court

You might receive the money owed to you after sending the demand letter. But if you don’t, send the letter a second time, attaching the first letter along with the second. If you still get nothing, you need to assess whether it’s worth your time and effort to take your tenant to small claims court.

Related: How to file a small claims lawsuit against your landlord or renter

The upside of going to small claims court is that you’ll likely win a judgment against your tenant if you can prove to the judge that your tenant does, indeed, owe you money. You get your money (theoretically anyway: see about being broke below), and you get satisfaction in that you were not taken advantage of.

But there are downsides to small claims court as well.

It’s time-consuming.

You need to prepare your case, organize the evidence, learn how to go to small claims court, and attend the hearing in the town in which your rental property is located.

Your tenant might be broke.

If you win a judgment, you still need to collect on that judgment. If your tenant has no money and no job, you won’t be able to collect.

You might not have the evidence.

If you didn’t keep proof, such as how your property looked at move-in time compared with how it looked when your tenant left, you might not be able to win in small claims court.

You pay filing fees and might lose pay by taking time off work.

Filing fees are usually less than $100 and you get them back if you win your case, but if you don’t have a strong case and lose, you need to be prepared to lose your filing fee. And depending on how valuable your time is, if you need to take the day off from work, you need to factor that cost in as well.

Your tenant could file a countersuit.

Whether your tenant has a case against you or not, they could file a countersuit. If you haven’t done everything by the book, you actually might go home owing your tenant money.

But if you can say “yes” to the following, you should seriously consider going to small claims court:

Your tenant owes you a significant sum of money.

You have proof of what you are owed.

Your ex-tenant has a job or a source of income.

You have the time and energy for small claims court.

If you don’t think you’ll get much or any money, you might want to write this off as a loss and move on.

Try to prevent excessive damages in the first place

It’s good to know what to do if you’re owed money, but it’s even better to prevent this situation from happening in the first place. Here are three measures to take to help avoid being out any money.

1. Conduct regular inspections

One way to help prevent excessive damage to your rental property is to perform periodic inspections. It’s important to strike the right balance between keeping tabs on what’s going on with your rental property and not becoming intrusive to your tenants. It’s typical to inspect your property at least once a year. Some landlords do this twice a year or even quarterly.

Related: How Often Can a Landlord Inspect a Rental Property?

If you notice a problem, such as a tenant sneaking in a pet or an extra tenant or two, or if you notice a dying lawn or a water stain on the ceiling, you can nip the problem in the bud before a small issue becomes an expensive problem.

2. Have a walk-through a month before move-out

The time to do a walk-through is when the tenant is moving out or immediately after they move out. (You do that, right?) A walk-through lets you know whether you will need to withhold any of the security deposit.

But you can also do a walk-through about a month before your tenant moves out. At that time, you can go over with your tenant any items that need fixing. By doing the walk-through a month in advance, you give your tenant a chance to fix any problems so they can get all or most of their deposit back.

3. Screen tenants

A great way to help ensure you don’t lose money is to get good tenants in your property in the first place. And the way to do that is by tenant screening. Of course, screening doesn’t guarantee a perfect landlord/tenant relationship, but it helps immensely.

I use Cozy to screen tenants. I require a background and credit check on all applicants. The applicants pay directly to Cozy for this service, and I receive the information to review, which helps me decide whom to rent my properties to.

Bottom line

Making repairs because of damages tenants cause and being out rent for a month or more from a tenant who stiffed you are risks landlords take. Knowing what to do if this happens to you and helping prevent this from happening in the first place lessens your risk of losing money.


You did the right thing in collecting a security deposit. But what happens when that deposit isn’t enough to cover damages or unpaid rent?

Most landlords collect a security deposit equal to one month’s rent at move-in time to cover any damages or unpaid rent at move-out time. But if there were extensive damages to the property or if the tenant left without paying last month’s rent and there were damages, you’re out some money, and that isn’t right.

You have options, though. Let’s explore them.

1. Communicate with your tenant

To legally withhold the security deposit, you must, in most states, send a letter to your tenant explaining why you are holding some or all the deposit. And you must do so within the time limit specified by your state. You can find your state law here.

Here’s a template for documenting and itemizing deductions from the security deposit.

Download a Free Itemized Security Deposit Deduction Form Template

Send this document or one like it to your tenant to let them know why you are withholding some or all the security deposit.

If they still owe you money beyond the security deposit, you’ll also need to send a demand letter.

2. Send a demand letter

Along with sending the itemized list, you need to send a letter asking for what your tenant owes you, called a “demand letter.”

Here’s a sample of a demand letter you can send a tenant who owes you money.

Sample demand letter (when your tenant owes you money)

[Date]

[Tenant’s name]

[Tenant’s address]

Re: Return of security deposit

Dear [tenant’s name],

This letter concerns your security deposit in the amount of [amount of the total deposit] for the premises located at [address of the property] during your lease period of [start and end dates].

I will not be returning your security deposit for the premises located at [address of the property]. I am keeping the security deposit to cover the following:

[Include the itemized list from above.]

The total cost to cover these damages is X.

Because the cost of damages exceeds the security deposit, you owe me X, which represents total damages minus the security deposit, payable immediately.

Please remit your balance to:

[Your name and address]

Sincerely,

[Your name]

[Your signature]

3. Decide whether you should go to small claims court

You might receive the money owed to you after sending the demand letter. But if you don’t, send the letter a second time, attaching the first letter along with the second. If you still get nothing, you need to assess whether it’s worth your time and effort to take your tenant to small claims court.

Related: How to file a small claims lawsuit against your landlord or renter

The upside of going to small claims court is that you’ll likely win a judgment against your tenant if you can prove to the judge that your tenant does, indeed, owe you money. You get your money (theoretically anyway: see about being broke below), and you get satisfaction in that you were not taken advantage of.

But there are downsides to small claims court as well.

It’s time-consuming.

You need to prepare your case, organize the evidence, learn how to go to small claims court, and attend the hearing in the town in which your rental property is located.

Your tenant might be broke.

If you win a judgment, you still need to collect on that judgment. If your tenant has no money and no job, you won’t be able to collect.

You might not have the evidence.

If you didn’t keep proof, such as how your property looked at move-in time compared with how it looked when your tenant left, you might not be able to win in small claims court.

You pay filing fees and might lose pay by taking time off work.

Filing fees are usually less than $100 and you get them back if you win your case, but if you don’t have a strong case and lose, you need to be prepared to lose your filing fee. And depending on how valuable your time is, if you need to take the day off from work, you need to factor that cost in as well.

Your tenant could file a countersuit.

Whether your tenant has a case against you or not, they could file a countersuit. If you haven’t done everything by the book, you actually might go home owing your tenant money.

But if you can say “yes” to the following, you should seriously consider going to small claims court:

Your tenant owes you a significant sum of money.

You have proof of what you are owed.

Your ex-tenant has a job or a source of income.

You have the time and energy for small claims court.

If you don’t think you’ll get much or any money, you might want to write this off as a loss and move on.

Try to prevent excessive damages in the first place

It’s good to know what to do if you’re owed money, but it’s even better to prevent this situation from happening in the first place. Here are three measures to take to help avoid being out any money.

1. Conduct regular inspections

One way to help prevent excessive damage to your rental property is to perform periodic inspections. It’s important to strike the right balance between keeping tabs on what’s going on with your rental property and not becoming intrusive to your tenants. It’s typical to inspect your property at least once a year. Some landlords do this twice a year or even quarterly.

Related: How Often Can a Landlord Inspect a Rental Property?

If you notice a problem, such as a tenant sneaking in a pet or an extra tenant or two, or if you notice a dying lawn or a water stain on the ceiling, you can nip the problem in the bud before a small issue becomes an expensive problem.

2. Have a walk-through a month before move-out

The time to do a walk-through is when the tenant is moving out or immediately after they move out. (You do that, right?) A walk-through lets you know whether you will need to withhold any of the security deposit.

But you can also do a walk-through about a month before your tenant moves out. At that time, you can go over with your tenant any items that need fixing. By doing the walk-through a month in advance, you give your tenant a chance to fix any problems so they can get all or most of their deposit back.

3. Screen tenants

A great way to help ensure you don’t lose money is to get good tenants in your property in the first place. And the way to do that is by tenant screening. Of course, screening doesn’t guarantee a perfect landlord/tenant relationship, but it helps immensely.

I use Cozy to screen tenants. I require a background and credit check on all applicants. The applicants pay directly to Cozy for this service, and I receive the information to review, which helps me decide whom to rent my properties to.

Bottom line

Making repairs because of damages tenants cause and being out rent for a month or more from a tenant who stiffed you are risks landlords take. Knowing what to do if this happens to you and helping prevent this from happening in the first place lessens your risk of losing money.

How to attract long-term tenants

Fresh out of college with the intention to move from my hometown to a new city, I was searching for an apartment. And when I finally found the listing of my dreams—okay, a listing I could afford—I first had to make sure the landlord was someone I trusted to respect my living situation as much as I respected their property.

For a young renter, meeting with a new landlord can be intimidating. I was nervous about apartment hunting on my own, but even more nervous about failing to see eye-to-eye with my potential landlord.

Fortunately, from our first meeting, my landlord made it clear that my interests were as important as his business. I live in a small building with my landlord residing on the first floor, which makes a healthy rental relationship crucial. Happily, my landlord has a great attitude that has attracted and kept multiple long-term tenants.

I’ve renewed my lease since that first year and have every intention of doing so until my living needs change. How did my landlord inspire this, and how can you take his lead? From moving in to living in harmony, here’s how you can inspire long-term rental relationships with tenants.

1. Consider a compromise

The day I signed my lease, the landlord was showing the listing to two other potential tenants. I had lined up a few viewings and was hesitant to jump on signing without finding out my options. Rather than pressure me to grab the listing while I could, my landlord granted me a grace period—he would not lease the space that day without hearing from me first.

I appreciated that this potential landlord was willing to work with me. His gesture showed me that he valued me as a potential tenant and was understanding of my situation.

If you want to make a good first impression on your tenants, laying the foundation to build a long-term relationship, making even a small gesture can do the trick. A flexible policy can go a long way.

2. Offer a warm welcome

When I moved in, my landlord provided me with a list of his favorite community hotspots and a few restaurant recommendations. His friendliness alleviated all my earlier anxieties about living in a new space, and he established himself as a go-to contact for questions about our neighborhood.

If you want to start off on the right foot, a small welcome gift or some cultivated advice can go a long way. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but a welcome package is a kind gesture that shows you care. Besides free advice, here are some inexpensive items you might want to include:

Coffee beans

Baked goods

Cleaning supplies

Map of the area

Coupon or gift card for a local favorite

Your contact info on a notecard

Note that if you provide consumables, make sure your tenant is aware of the ingredients.

Welcoming your tenant opens a line of communication early on, encouraging your tenant to call you in case something happens. A welcome package is a perfect first step.

Related: Provide Bathroom Essentials on Move-In Day

3. Maintain the “little” things

Neglect can drive a wedge in your rental relationships, particularly if the tenant believes you don’t care for their comfort. Landlords should respond to maintenance requests as soon as possible, and this can include more than apartment maintenance.

Parking was an issue during my first week of moving in because I struggled to perfectly maneuver into my tight space. When I mentioned it to my landlord, he guided me into the spot. He even sent me an appreciative text once when he noticed I had parallel parked like a pro. He took time out of his day for this small act, and I felt appreciative.

Related: Be an ethical landlord

4. Make the area safe

With today’s technology, installing security measures in your complex is simpler than ever.

Browse through the broad selection of modern tech and determine which cameras and locks are most suitable for your building. If you make the adjustments to your property, brief your tenants on new procedures and protocol. You can send out an email or place notes on the doors, but make sure to keep them informed.

My landlord has never compromised in this area. Between a security camera by my parking space and his diligence in maintaining my exterior locks, I feel secure living alone as a young woman. His respect for my security contributes to my decision to renew my lease each year.

Related: Should Landlords (or Tenants) Install an Alarm System?

5. Show respect for privacy

I never have to worry about surprise inspections. That’s not a healthy way to approach the landlord-tenant dynamic, not to mention that the practice is illegal in most jurisdictions. Though you own the property, you should show some tact when navigating a renter’s space.

If you’re planning to enter a tenant’s unit for whatever reason other than an emergency, let them know in advance. Schedule a date and time that won’t inconvenience them, and try your best not to break from it. They should feel happy to see you, not horrified at the prospect you might appear at any given moment for an impromptu check.

In this area, like many others, your relationship rests on your ability to communicate. Maintain a regular back-and-forth where you discuss these things. Tenants deserve privacy, so it’s essential you give them their personal space.

Related: Can a Landlord Enter the Property Whenever They Want?

Building long-term rental relationships

My concerns about navigating my new rental relationship were swept away by the respect my landlord has shown for both the apartment I leased and my living situation. None of his actions take much time or money, but they add up. Not only am I more likely to continue this long-term rental relationship, but I’m also encouraged to do everything I can to make my landlord’s life easier as well.

Your tenants can share my positivity. Start with a small gesture, and go from there.ation of a title and a paragraph. Use it to welcome visitors to your website, or explain a product or service without using an image. Try keeping the paragraph short and breaking off the text-only areas of your page to keep your website interesting to visitors.

A walk-through, also known as a landlord/tenant walk-through or a move-in/move-out inspection

A walk-through, also known as a landlord/tenant walk-through or a move-in/move-out inspection, occurs at the beginning and end of a tenant’s lease. During a move-in walk-through, the new tenant (with or without the landlord or property manager) walks through the property to check for any potential issues that need to be fixed. It’s also the time to make note of any issues that existed prior to their arrival. During a move-out walk-through, the landlord or property manager (either with or without the presence of the tenant) walks through the property to check for any potential damages or issues that will need to be addressed before a new tenant can move in.

Charge a Security Deposit Upon Move-In

After you’ve approved a renter’s application, it’s important to inform them of the fees that will need to be paid on move-in day. These may include a security deposit, a non-refundable pet fee, a pet deposit, an administrative fee, etc. It’s important to require a security deposit to cover any damages caused to the property during a tenant’s stay. Although a security deposit will not cover normal wear and tear or assist in paying for new upgrades, it will help you resolve damage caused by the tenant. If the security deposit isn’t enough to cover the damage, you may need to consider sending a letter asking for additional payment from the tenant with an itemized security deposit deduction form (that also lists charges beyond the amount of the security deposit).

Are unapproved changes to the unit considered damage?

Tenants may ask their landlord throughout the lease if there are any changes they’re allowed to make to the unit to spruce it up. Perhaps they’d like to paint the walls a different color or add a new light fixture in the kitchen. If the lease you have both signed allows for such changes, you cannot consider this damage to the property upon move-out. However, if the tenant doesn’t ask for approval or check their lease before making changes, this could be considered damage to the property, or at least breaking the terms of their lease. If you do not want tenants making any physical changes to your property, be sure to state so in the lease along with potential security deposit deductions that accompany unapproved changes.

Use a Walk-Through Checklist During Move-In and Move-Out

A move-in checklist (often given to the tenant by the landlord or property manager) is a way for the tenant to take note of any issues with the unit that were there before they moved in. This way, the landlord won’t mistakenly charge them for damage that was done prior to their tenancy. It’s even easier to use a template that records the condition of the unit upon arrival (move-in day) and upon departure (move-out day) for both the landlord and the tenant. If you don’t have a template, check out our rental walk-through checklist.

As the landlord, you can choose to be there for the move-in walk-through, but you don’t need to be. Simply require that the tenant returns the checklist to you within a week of their move-in date. You should hold onto this throughout their lease, as well as provide the tenant with a copy for their own records that’s signed by both parties.

Take Before and After Pictures and Videos

You likely already have top-notch photos of your rental property on your online listing, but for your own personal records, it’s important to take before and after photos (and videos) of your unit. This is another way for both you and your tenant to have proof of what the unit looked like at move-in and at move-out. If taken on your smartphone, the date the photos were taken will show up on your camera roll, and the same goes for videos. The tenant may also use photos taken on move-in day to prove that an issue with the unit happened prior to their arrival. If the tenant does not attend the move-out walk-through, and you find damage in the apartment, photos can help you explain to the tenant why you will not be returning their security deposit in full (or at all). These photos should be sent in addition to an itemized security deposit deduction form after the move-out walk-through.

Scheduling a Walk-Through Prior to Move-Out

It’s common to conduct a walk-through on move-out day, but it may also be beneficial for both you and the tenant to do an inspection a few weeks prior as well. This way, if you see any possible problems, you can notify the tenant what needs to be fixed in order to avoid being charged for damages. You’re not required to do this, but it will keep you from repairing small fixes on your own that could’ve easily been done by the tenant upon request.

The Move-Out Walk-Through

The day your tenant moves out, and after all their belongings have been removed, is the time that both of you will fill out the move-out column of the checklist. You may also take a second set of photos and videos for your before-and-after record, if you wish. If you would prefer to conduct the move-out walk-through without the tenant, that is your choice (as long as you’re abiding by state and local laws). This is a reasonable option if you’ve already inspected the unit with your tenant a few weeks prior to prevent them from losing a part of their security deposit on easily fixable damages.

What to do with the security deposit after move-out

You have a certain time limit to return the security deposit to your tenant or provide a reason why you’re withholding all or part of it. This varies by state, so check your state laws on the matter. To protect yourself and your property, include all proof that you’ve obtained, including before-and-after photos and videos, your copy of the move-in/move-out inspection sheet, and an itemized security deposit deduction form. If no damages occurred to the unit, then you are required to return the security deposit back to the tenant in full using their new address (provided upon move-out).

Tenant Abandoned Your Property? Here’s What to Do

Tenant Abandoned Your Property? Here’s What to Do


Your tenant has reached the end of their lease and it’s time for them to move out. Perhaps they have purchased a home or they’re moving to another state. Thankfully, they have provided a notice to vacate so you can plan accordingly. But what do you do if a tenant disappears during the middle of a lease and never returns? Can you remove the tenant’s items from the unit? How much time must pass before personal property is considered abandoned? Here’s what landlords can do to protect themselves in this tricky situation.

Determine If Tenants Truly Abandoned the Property

Before you make any decisions, you must determine if the tenant actually abandoned the property. Simply noticing that a tenant has been absent for a while isn’t enough evidence to prove the property has been abandoned. Extended vacation, a business trip, and being sick in the hospital are just a few reasons why a tenant might be absent for a while.

To determine if a tenant has left the property for good, look for signs and ask yourself these questions:

Are they behind in payment or facing eviction? In multiple states, if rent is current, the property isn’t considered to be abandoned.

Is there any significant furniture missing, such as a bed, a couch, or a wardrobe? Most people will take necessary items like these with them if they are moving.

Did they leave any valuable items? If they left behind televisions or a lot of clothing, it’s likely the unit isn’t abandoned.

Did they leave behind garbage or rotting food? It’s common for tenants rushing to vacate to leave behind garbage cans or rotting food. Most people will empty the garbage and clean out the refrigerator if they know they will be gone for a few weeks or months.

Are the utilities turned off? You can determine this by calling the utility company.

Did the tenant put in a change of address at the post office?

Talk to the neighbors. Did they see the tenant move out? Did the tenant tell the neighbor they were moving out? If a neighbor says they saw the tenant move out or talked to them about it, you strengthen your case.

Reach out to the tenant’s emergency contacts. Do they know about their absence or whereabouts? This will also help strengthen your case for tenant abandonment.

Has the tenant responded to any form of communication? You should reach out to the tenant via email and mail. If they never respond, they could have abandoned the property.

Keep in mind that a combination of these factors should be present before determining a tenant has abandoned the property. If you aren’t absolutely certain the tenant has left, do not change the locks. If you change the locks on a tenant who hasn’t abandoned the property, you could face a wrongful lockout claim. Remember that a tenant could still be legally in possession of the unit as long as they haven’t violated the lease terms.

Document the Discovery Process

Proper, detailed documentation is key to reclaiming an abandoned rental property and protecting yourself as a landlord. You need to be able to provide evidence in court to justify your actions if you face a wrongful lockout claim. Here is what you should do to properly document:

Take photos and videos of the abandoned property. Be sure to capture evidence like rotting food, lack of furniture, or abandoned pets that could indicate the tenant left.

Keep copies of any written notices and emails you sent to the tenant. You can send the letters to the last known address of the tenant and their workplace to illustrate you attempted to communicate.

Keep track of the names, times, and dates of emergency contacts and neighbors you spoke with. You should also write a summary of each conversation.

Take photos and videos of any personal property that was left behind to prove its condition. If you need to remove items that were left, document the cost of removing and storing the items with receipts and/or invoices.

Know the Laws

Each state has different rules surrounding tenant abandonment, so it’s important to do your research before taking action, especially if the tenant abandoned personal property. Most states require landlords to store the tenant’s personal property in a safe place to prevent theft or damage for at least 30 days. In other states, you can simply change the locks and get rid of any items present. It’s wise to consult with a lawyer before you make any decisions so you can avoid litigation.

Deal with Abandoned Property

Depending on the state, when a tenant abandons personal property, landlords can sell, donate, or keep abandoned items. Although some states allow landlords to sell these items, there might be a dollar threshold preventing the landlord from having complete control. Again, always consult with a lawyer before making decisions and taking any action.

Similar to documenting the discovery process, you should also keep a record of removing any personal items. Before removing the items from the unit, create a list of each item left behind. Take photos and videos to prove the condition of each item. Send a written notice to the tenant detailing where you plan to store their items and a designated time frame for them to pick up the items. Get a witness to watch the removal of the items from the abandoned rental property into a storage unit as well.

Change the Locks

If you determine a tenant did in fact abandon the property and didn’t leave a key behind, change the locks as soon as possible. There are a variety of easy-to-use systems you can use to rekey locks.

As a rule of thumb when dealing with abandoned property, collect as much information and evidence as possible. Always remember to do your research on state laws and consult with a lawyer before making any decisions involving tenant abandonment. There are steps you can take to be proactive and avoid these situations, like properly screening tenants. You can also include a clause in your lease noting what will happen if items are left behind. Many landlords charge a removal fee or withhold a portion of the security deposit. No landlord wants to discover that a tenant has vanished with unpaid rent. Similarly, no tenant wants to come home from a two-month vacation only to discover they have been locked out of their apartment, so always document and consult appropriately. 

When is a tenant responsible for repairs?

When is a tenant responsible for repairs?


Who is responsible for repairs whether you own a home or rent one, things eventually break, malfunction, or wear out.

Generally, if you’re a renter and you break something, you pay to repair it. If something breaks not because of you, such as because of age, the landlord is typically responsible. But what about minor repairs that are inexpensive or simple enough to do yourself?

You might be better off just handling them yourself. Before calling the landlord for every minor maintenance or repair issue, consider who should really be handling those repairs.

Check your lease agreement for repairs

There’s no need to stress out the moment that bathroom sink faucet starts to drip. Before wondering if you’re in charge of such repairs, check your rental agreement. In most cases, the contract discusses which repairs are the landlord’s responsibility and which may be yours.

For instance, Landlordology writer and rental owner Laura Agadoni includes language in her rental agreements noting that tenants are responsible for repairs $50 or less. Anything costing more is her responsibility, as long as the tenant or tenant’s guests didn’t cause the repair issue.

Is it a big deal?

If your lease isn’t clear about who should handle your specific repair issue, consider whether the problem is a big deal or a minor annoyance. For instance, if your entry door won’t lock properly and never has, your landlord should fix it, as your safety is at stake. If your cat uses the window blinds as a ladder, destroying them in the process, this isn’t such a big deal. It’s also an issue that you are definitely responsible for, since your pet caused the problem.

If that leaky faucet keeps you awake at night, the landlord may be willing to fix it, especially if they pay the water bill. It doesn’t hurt to submit a written repair request for something like this if you aren’t sure whether it’s your responsibility. Even so, use those repair requests sparingly, as no landlord enjoys being pestered repeatedly by the same tenant for somewhat minor concerns.

Check your state’s laws

Tenants have a right to habitable living conditions in every state. For instance, a functional heat system is a requirement. If your heating unit breaks down, the landlord must repair it, no matter where in the United States you live.

Some states such as Washington take things farther, noting that a landlord cannot legally make the tenants responsible for any repairs except when the tenant or their guests caused the damage.

If your repair issue is potentially difficult or costly and isn’t an obvious landlord responsibility, check your state laws for more clarity.

Handle what you can

Minor things such as burnt-out light bulbs or mildew in the shower are typically the tenant’s responsibility. Even if this isn’t spelled out in your agreement, it’s usually easier to deal with the issue yourself than to contact the landlord over what amounts to a minor annoyance.

If a screw is missing from the deadbolt hardware, replace it yourself.

A stain on the carpet near the front door is also easier to deal with yourself; the landlord usually isn’t responsible for cleaning-related issues.

On the other hand, if there are mold and a wet, sagging spot on the bathroom ceiling due to a leak in an upstairs unit, it’s not your responsibility. But you should report it immediately before things get worse.

Definitely your responsibility

Certain maintenance issues are always your responsibility unless your contract states otherwise.

It’s up to you to replace light bulbs and batteries in smoke detectors.

You also must keep the appliances clean, even if they belong to the landlord.

Even though it’s a rental unit, treat it as if you own the space. Keep the floors, walls, kitchen, and bathroom clean and in the best condition possible. The landlord expects the unit to be in the same condition when you move out as when you moved in, other than normal wear.

What not to do

Even if you have the skills of a general contractor, don’t make major repairs yourself without the landlord’s consent. Patching a nail hole in a wall and repainting the spot to match the wall is okay; painting “ugly” walls an entirely new color is not. Likewise, replacing a window you broke may seem like the right thing to do. In the landlord’s eyes, it might be all wrong. The window may not match the rest of the building’s windows.

Do not make any such repairs without asking the landlord first. The landlord may prefer to use their own contractor or do the work themselves and send you the bill. This ensures the work done meets your landlord’s standards.

In a nutshell, handle simple things such as light bulbs and cleaning yourself. Consult your rental agreement for anything that seems like a gray area. Major issues such as heat and electricity are definitely up to the landlord.

Nine Step Apartment Turnover Checklist

One of your tenants has informed you that they have received a job offer across the country, so they won’t be renewing their lease. Thankfully, with your great advertisements, you have been able to find new potential tenants. But what happens after your former tenant moves out? What steps need to be completed before your new tenant can move in? Turning over your rental property is a part of being a landlord and knowing how to do it properly is very important.

What Is Tenant Turnover?

Tenant turnover is the process of conducting maintenance, cleaning, and signing a new tenant. The goal of tenant turnover is to restore the unit to its original condition (or better) so that a new tenant can move in. If you don’t properly turn over your rental property, you could face a small claims suit. As soon as your tenant gives a 60-day notice of non-renewal, the process of tenant turnover begins.

Here are nine steps to help you turn over your apartment or rental property.

1. Advertise Your Rental Property ASAP

Advertise the vacancy as soon as possible so you can have a new tenant in place that can move in once the current tenant moves out. The longer it takes to find a new tenant, the longer the apartment will sit vacant, which means you won’t be making any income from the space. You don’t know how long it will take to get a new tenant so it’s best to be proactive and start early.

2. Schedule Vendors for Repairs

Similarly, you should begin scheduling any maintenance vendors such as a professional cleaning company or painting company. Booking vendors in advance will save you time because you won't be scrambling to find someone to clean the carpet when your tenant finally moves out. As soon as you receive notice from your tenant, set a move-out schedule. From there, you can set a time to begin repairs.

It’s recommended to begin repairs as soon as the old tenant moves out and continue fixing damage for at least a week (if needed) or until the new tenant moves in. Beginning repairs when the former tenant moves out will give you more time for cleaning, painting, and other upkeep. You’ll also be able to get the new tenant in faster because the service is already scheduled.

3. Schedule Showings and Begin Touring the Unit

Potential tenants will want to view the unit before moving in, so you’ll have to provide tours. Before you begin showing the rental, determine if you want to show the unit when it's occupied or unoccupied. Although an unoccupied unit means more time for repairs and less stress because you don’t have to coordinate with anyone, you will lose income the longer the unit sits vacant. Showing the rental with a tenant who still lives there means you will have to coordinate and provide notice based on your local laws, but you’ll save time and money when searching for a new tenant.

4. Final Walk-Through

Before you can let your new tenant move in, you must conduct a final walk-through inspection. As you walk through the unit, reference the notes, photos, and videos taken during the move-in inspection to help determine the damage that exceeds normal wear and tear. The tenant does not have to be present during the final walk-through, but if you deduct the cost of repairs from their security deposit, you must justify why in a letter.

Similar to the move-in walk-through, take photos and videos of the condition of the unit and any damages. Document any invoices or receipts you receive for repairs to illustrate costs. If you’re sued in small claims court, you will have to prove why you deducted from their deposit, so always work to protect yourself.

5. Make Repairs

Although every apartment will have a different amount of normal wear and tear or damage, there are a variety of maintenance tasks you should always complete to ensure your rental property is attractive to potential renters and up to par with any state or local requirements.

Now is a great time to make any renovations as well. It is possible to renovate when a tenant is living in a unit, but it’s much easier to get everything done when the property is empty. You also don’t want your tenant to be bothered by constant construction. Keep in mind that it might be worth the investment to renovate outdated cabinets or install new light fixtures because it will attract a wider pool of potential tenants. Some renovations can increase the amount of rent charged as well.

Here is a checklist for repairs to help you during the process:

Fix anything that was listed as broken or damaged on the move-out checklist

Renovate any outdated features (cabinets, countertops, toilets, flooring, tile in the shower, light fixtures, etc.)

Inspect HVAC

Change air filters

Check for leaky drains and pipes, and other water damage

Check drains for clogs

Inspect water pressure

Get plumbing inspected by a professional

Check if all appliances are working (fridge, stove, oven, microwave, washer, dryer, etc.)

Fix or replace appliances, if necessary (you might be able to donate, sell, or recycle appliances, depending on your local laws)

Replace windows and window screens, if needed

Tighten or loosen hardware (doorknobs, towel bars, handles on cabinets, etc.)

Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Replace lightbulbs

Wipe walls before painting (always do this to remove any cobwebs, stains, dirt, and debris, which can prevent paint from sticking)

Paint walls

You might be tempted to begin cleaning up during repairs, but it's best to wait until everything is completed since it's likely a mess will be made. If there is significant damage in the unit that is beyond normal wear and tear, you can deduct the costs from the tenant’s security deposit, just remember to properly document it and take photos and videos.

6. Clean the Unit

A deep clean can freshen up a space and it's also a safety precaution for your next tenant. Cleaning an entire apartment can get overwhelming, but you can always hire a professional cleaning company if you’re willing to spend some extra money. If you decide to clean yourself, focus on doing smaller tasks first and clean room by room.

Clean the floors last to ensure they’re spic and span before heading to the next room to clean. If you discover the rental property is excessively dirty, depending on state laws, you can also deduct cleaning costs from the security deposit. Remember to always document!

Here is a checklist for each area of your rental property to help you get everything sparkling clean.

Bathroom

Sink and cabinets

Vanity/mirrors

Tub/shower/surround area

Toilet

Floors/carpet

Kitchen

Sink and disposal

Cabinets and drawers

Countertops

Microwave

Dishwasher

Stove and oven

Fridge and freezer

Floors/carpet

Entire Apartment/Rental

Light fixtures

Walls and doors*

Laundry

Closets and other storage areas

Trim molding

Windows and blinds

Ceilings

Floors/carpet

*Tip: try using a magic cleaning sponge to remove stubborn marks from walls and other surfaces.

A Note on Carpet

Depending on the condition of the carpet, it might just need a vacuum or shampoo. However, it is usually necessary to get a deep clean or completely replace the carpet. Carpet cleaning is highly recommended if you are pet-friendly because it will help with pest control, dander, fur, and odors. Although you can save money by removing or shampooing the carpet yourself, hiring a professional might be worth it. You don’t want potential renters turned away because of unusual scents! Whether you go DIY or hire a professional, keep in mind that it can take carpet anywhere between two to 24 hours for it to dry, depending on the type of carpet, humidity, and airflow. Plan accordingly.

If a Tenant Left Personal Property

Sometimes a tenant will leave items behind in the property. You can remove items so you can clean and make repairs, but you can’t just throw them away. In many states, you’re required by law to contact former tenants about personal property they left behind. Landlords are also required to hold the tenant’s belongings in a safe place for at least 30 days. Check your local laws before taking any action. Before removing the items, take photos and videos as part of your documentation. You should also get a witness to watch you remove and store the items. To prevent tenants from leaving personal property, you can include that you will charge a removal fee in your lease.

7. Change the Locks/Rekey the Apartment

You should always rekey locks once a tenant moves out. You can’t guarantee a former tenant didn’t make a copy of the keys, so create new ones. Rekeying protects your tenant from any unwarranted access to the unit. Conveniently, there are a variety of systems that allow you to easily rekey locks and create new keys. These rekeying systems are available at varying price points as well. Tip: always keep a set of keys for yourself in case of emergency repairs, routine inspections, or if your tenant gets locked out or loses their key.

8. Avoid Turnover

The best way to reduce costs altogether is reducing tenant turnover. Lease renewal means you don’t have to worry about finding new tenants or conducting repairs Routine maintenance, welcome packages, requiring quiet hours, and allowing pets are just a few ways you can increase tenant retention.

9. Print Our Checklist

You can create and print your own checklist and cross off items as you complete tasks, but here’s a template you can use:

Task

Completed?

Advertise Property

Set Move-Out Schedule for Current Tenant

Schedule Vendors for Repairs

Schedule Property Tours

Begin Showing Rentals

Complete Final Walk-through

Begin Making Repairs/Renovations:

Fix broken items and/or damage on move-out checklist

Complete renovations (if needed)

Inspect HVAC

Change air filters

Check for leaky drains and pipes, and other water damage

Check drains for clogs

Inspect water pressure

Get plumbing inspected by a professional

Check, fix, and/or replace appliances:

Stove

Oven

Fridge

Microwave

Washing machine

Dryer

Other: _____________

Replace windows and window screens, if needed

Tighten or loosen hardware

Doorknobs

Towel bar

Toilet paper bar

Cabinet handles

Replace batteries in smoke and/or carbon monoxide detector

Replace lightbulbs

Wipe walls for painting

Paint

Clean Unit:

Bathroom

Sink

Cabinets

Vanity and mirrors

Tub, shower, and surrounding area

Toilet

Floors/Carpet

Kitchen

Sink

Garbage disposal

Cabinets

Drawers

Countertops

Microwave

Dishwasher

Stove

Oven

Fridge

Freezer

Floors/Carpet

Entire Apartment/Rental Property

Light fixtures

Walls

Doors

Laundry

Closets and other storage areas

Trim molding

Windows and blinds

Ceilings

Floors/Carpet

Change Locks and Make New Keys

Complete Procedures for Tenant Retention (fill in blanks)

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

Similar to many tasks as a landlord, turning over a rental property can be stressful if you’re not organized. Use the checklist to keep yourself on track and take everything one step at a time. Keep in mind that the overall goal is to restore the unit so potential renters can envision themselves in their new homes and everything will look good as new — or better!  

WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING

“Quality work at a great price. I’m am an out-of-state landlord, and I am very at ease knowing Destiny Property Management is taking care of my property. They are on top of things when things go wrong.”

- Laurie U.

“If you’re looking for an honest, ethical company that takes pride their work then this is the company for you.”

- Jackie A.

“Professional people. Respond quickly. Always courteous. Will be using them for years to come. Make renting a stress-free experience. Thank you for handling the crazy tenants and making my life easier!”

- Charles V.

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