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6 Tips for Saving Money During Tenant Turnover

Matt DeBoth
3 min read
6 Tips for Saving Money During Tenant Turnover

It’s common knowledge that one of your biggest costs as a landlord is the turnover process. (Or if you didn’t know, then now you do.)

Every landlord hates it. You have a unit sitting vacant for a few weeks while you’re paying the utilities, and you need to do repairs, advertise, meet new applicants, and screen tenants.

Having a tenant move out is just a headache. While it’s going to happen no matter what you do, here are some ways I reduce the cost of turnover.

How to Reduce the Cost of Tenant Turnover

LED Lightbulbs

This may sound like a small thing—and it is—but it will save big bucks. LED lights save electricity, so when you’re paying the utilities after the tenant moves out, it’s already saving you money to have these in place.

LED lightbulbs last between 25-50,000 hours, so this means less changing lightbulbs for you or your handyman. This little step can save you money and headaches.

Plus, when an old bulb burned out, usually the tenant would change it. But in the past, I’ve experienced situations where a tenant will either not put the glass back over the light fixture or will even pull the ceiling fan off the ceiling—just trying to put a lightbulb in! By using longer lasting bulbs, this will help prevent tenants from breaking things.

Power save LED lamp changing

Master Key System

This is something I do on every apartment complex I buy. Get a master key system. This way, you only have one key, and you don’t look like a janitor walking around with a giant ring of them.

Yes, it is expensive to set the system up, but after that, it’s a game changer. Where I live, I can have a new deadbolt rekeyed to my master key system cheaper than if I went to Lowe’s for a new lock.

The bonus is that, if the tenant loses their key, they call my property manager, who contacts the locksmith. Then, the tenant has to go down and pick up the new key AND pay for it there.

Related: 4 Tips to Decrease Tenant Turnover in Your Rentals

One Kind of Paint

I buy pallets of paint in five-gallon buckets. This way, I’m saving by buying in bulk, and there is no question what color of paint goes in which apartment. This saves me a ton of time and money by just doing some touch-ups instead of painting the entire room.

Of course, in some markets and higher-class properties, two-tone paint is preferred—and maybe this is what you like. Either way, stick to the same brands and colors of paint.

I also like to keep extra paint in each rental unit just in case.

No Carpet

In almost all of my apartments, there is no carpet. This is because carpet is a huge waste of money and the number one thing I have found that needs to be replaced.

Instead, I use luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring, ceramic tile, or snap together flooring. These types will stand up to large amounts of wear and tear, which will save you thousands of dollars over time. Plus, they are easy to clean and maintain.

Conceptual image of home cleaning. Close up of human hand with yellow rubber glove showing ok sign with thumb up. Clean kitchen countertop and rag with brushes on it

Cleaning Crew

Although this one might not seem like a money-saver, it will pay dividends. I use the same crew to clean each apartment complex.

The crews I use are so streamlined in their process that there is no need for me to micromanage them. They have a certain method and checklist of what to clean/repair when they are in there. They know exactly what I expect and exactly how the apartment needs to look for the new tenant.

By doing this over and over, my crews not only cut labor costs down but also reduce the turnover time considerably by getting in and out as fast as possible.

Related: Raising Rent (& Risking Tenant Turnover) vs. Playing it Safe (& Missing Out on Rent): Which Wins Out?

Mini Blinds

This one is more of a pet peeve of mine. I hate when tenants decide to try to hang their own curtains or nail up a blanket over windows. Then, they move out, and there is always drywall that needs to be repaired. Occasionally there’s even a window or two that needs replaced—not to mention the fact that blankets over a window just don’t scream quality living.

This is why I install mini blinds on all of the windows. It’s a clean look, and the tenant doesn’t have to worry about screwing up the curtain brackets (they’re never level!) or nailing a (floral!) blanket to the window frame. I find this small step not only helps make the property look nice from the inside and out, but also helps rent the place out faster because of that one less expense the new tenant has to pay for.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, reducing turnover time and expenses is your goal, so do what you can to achieve it. There are dozens of other strategies out there, but these are some of the “out of the box” ideas I like to use.

Remember that spending the money now and doing things the right way will save you money down the road.

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Any other cost-saving measures you’d add to this list?

Share in the comment section below.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.