Tenant turnover process

7 Replies

Hi all,

I have been a landlord for several years but I always have a hard time when it comes to tenants moving out and new tenants moving in. It always seems to be a huge ordeal every time. So I am going to describe the scenario and if anyone can give me some solutions that would be amazing. Thank you in advance.

When the tenant moves in I ask for the first months rent and 1 month for deposit.

The tenant is moving out at the end of the lease so during the last month they tell me they want me to keep the deposit for the last month and refuse to pay even after I tell them that is not the purpose of the deposit.

What do I even do in this situation? They are planning to leave already so is there really a point in starting the eviction process? (takes several months in NYC)

The tenants lease ends 5/31 but the morning of 6/1 they are still in there clearing out their stuff. I come take a look and there is still garbage everywhere once they leave. At this point if I had their deposit I would hire a cleaner and charge that to their deposit but I don't have it anymore so there is nothing I can do. The new tenant is suppose to move in 6/1 but the apartment is a mess. Now I have to hire a cleaner and make repairs but no time to do so. In this situation I would just work something out with the new tenant and give them a partial refund for the first month and make the repairs/clean today. This does not sit well with me though is there a better way to handle this situation? 

Lets say if the tenants moved out 5/31. How do you guys handle the repairs/painting/cleaning? Do you have a crew do it overnight so its ready in the morning for the new tenants?  

If your state law allows it, you can charge over one months rent for security deposit. if security is 1.5 times rent, they are less likely to leave it behind. You can also charge a per day fee for holdovers. of course, this will all depend on your local state law.

@Andrew B. Yeah if I had the deposit then none of this would be a problem because I can get all the work done and bill it to the deposit amount. The problem is when the tenant says to keep the deposit and use it as the last months rent. So they do not pay me for the last month. In that case I no longer have a deposit. If I ask for more of a deposit they can just do the same thing and tell me they want to use the deposit for the last 2 months. I can say no but I'm not sure what I can do to enforce it. 

Say they tell me they want to use their deposit for the last months rent. I say no but then they don't pay for the last month. I spend 500$ to get the apartment cleaned and painted/patched up. Now the deposit amount is enough to pay back for the last months rent but I'm out the $500. Do people take someone to small claims court to recover the 500?

What does it say in your lease?  It should say explicitly that the security deposit is not to be used in lieu of rent.  In such a case you should have sent a pay or quit notice when rent was late (and started charging late fees) and started the eviction process as soon as your state law allows.  Again, these steps should all be spelled out in the lease.  Hopefully this would make a decent tenant change their mind, but perhaps your tenant is not this type of person.

Obviously that isn't much help in this particular situation, but it may help in the future since you mentioned you always have a hard time when your tenants move out.  Regarding move out repairs, I also have it spelled out in the lease that the move out is at 12pm on the last day, and the move in is at 12pm on the first day.  I'm hoping that this will be enough time to schedule anything needed, but I've also been fortunate so far in not needing all that much.

Good luck.

@Chris Wange I always do state in the lease that the deposit can not be used in lieu of rent. My issue is it seems like its not worth it to try to enforce. ( I may be doing everything completely wrong.) My thought process is that if I give them a notice they can just ignore it and all I can do is follow up with the eviction process. The process takes about 6 months in nyc so to me that makes no sense to start its just a waste of time, money, and energy. Unless you're suggesting to post the notice as sort of a scare tactic to try to get them to comply. to me actually following through makes no sense. I do mention in the lease there is a late fee but in order for me to actually collect on the late fee and repair/cleaning costs I would have to take them to small claims court. If the case goes to trial I would probably win but then collecting what is owed is another issue. Also taking days off from work to go to court makes it seem not worth it. Again I may be doing things completely wrong and am missing something. If so i would love to learn how I can change that. 

I actually never though of setting a move in time but that can definitely help with the time to finish the work. I will try to negotiate this in the future.

Glad to see you have that in the lease.  The first thing that strikes me is that you mentioned "negotiate" about the move in time.  I don't know if you truly mean negotiate, but remember that you are the landlord and YOU are the one in charge and set the rules.  It is stipulated in the lease and non-negotiable.  If a potential tenant doesn't like it then I move on.  I charge a per hour fee after noon on the move out date and state that move in may be earlier, but it is at my discretion.  I don't mind making modifications to the lease for clarification purposes, but this is a business and I need to adhere to my processes.  So if I don't have a (financial) incentive for a tenant to move out by a certain time, how can I schedule my contractors?

Not to make a negative remark towards you, but looking back at your history with this tenant, do you feel you have been too lenient at times so that the tenant may think they can call the shots?  Were you perhaps in a hurry to find someone that you initially accepted a tenant who was less than ideal?  But, I guess only you can decide whether or not pursuing a lawsuit to reclaim what you're owed is worth it.  If you think the tenant has the means to pay for them maybe it is.

@Chris Wange So you set the move out time as midnight 12pm then for every hour they stay later you charge a fee right? How do you determine how much to charge? I guess my main issue is since they don't pay for the last month I don't have the deposit to use as leverage. I need to figure out how to stop them from trying to use it for the last month. I actually have 6 units, this doesn't happen all the time but I just end up eating the loss as a cost of doing business which i felt it shouldn't be this way but I don't know how to stop it from happening. I will definitely add the per hour rate to my lease though that's a great idea. I will also try issuing a pay or quit notice if they try to use the deposit for the last month.

Actually I am very lenient with all my tenants. I think it stems from the fact that I feel that my area is so tenant friendly that I feel they can do a lot of harm if they tried to so I let a lot of things slide. I am going to try to have a tighter grip on these next set of tenants. 

Being that you are in a tenant-friendly area I can understand your thinking.  I think you can be firm without coming across as a hard a**.  Being lenient is different than being a push over though.  I had a tenant who would always pay towards the end of his grace period.  The first time he was late I texted him that day to tell him he needed to pay, and he immediately did.  I did not charge him any late fees because overall he was a good tenant.  He did this a second time and asked not to be charged.  I told him that I would need to charge him because I let it slide before and needed to make sure rent was paid on time.  He was never late again after that.  Even tenants who abide by the rules throughout the lease can damage your property on a whim so you can't appease them at every turn just because you fear they might cause damage.  I really feel your initial due diligence is your best protection.  If you have a nice place at a fair price, hopefully you should have plenty of people to choose from.

Personally I set move in/out from noon to noon so I will hopefully have a full 24 hours to get things ready.  I set the late move out charge at $50 per hour to give them a good reason to meet the deadline.  Admittedly I have not run this by an attorney, but I don't think there would be an issue since the tenant is fully in charge of moving out on time and the penalty is known up front.