A step-by-step guide for when your tenant gives notice to vacate

When your tenant provides their notice to vacate the property, timing is important. It is vital that you take the necessary steps to ensure the handover goes smoothly, and your next tenant can be sourced as soon as possible. By making this process smooth you will be able to reduce confrontations and avoid losing many weeks of rent. Whether this is your first notice to vacate or your hundredth there is a similar process that should be taken to avoid these issues.

To help property owners get through this phase we have created a step-by-step guide. Use this to make sure you aren’t missing anything and are avoiding any potential pitfalls.

Step 1: Receive the notice

When you receive the notice, it should either have been sent via post, given in person, or (if you have instructed your tenant to do so) via email. Most tenancies tend to end with the tenant giving notice.

If you are sending a notice it is important that you know all relevant laws in Queensland regarding to which form must be used and how it must be delivered. There is a range of important rules in place, such as the amount of notice required, which must be followed.

Step 2: Confirm the notice

Once you have received the notice you should give the tenant a call as soon as possible. In this call, you should confirm the notice as well as thank them for looking after the property (if they have been). It is important that the conversation you have goes well as it will improve goodwill for further, more difficult steps. Within the phone call offer them a few tips to help them get their full bond back. This will make your tenant feel valued, so they will be more likely to ensure the property is in great condition when they vacate.

In the case where you have provided the tenant with a notice to vacate, you should call them to ensure they have received it. If you have hand-delivered the notice you can have your tenant sign a duplicate copy stating that they have received the notice. This is why sometimes hand-delivered notices are a great way to go, you can be sure they received it, and you don’t have to wait for postage.

Step 3: Communicate with your tenant in writing

Once you have confirmed the notice, writing back to your tenant via email or letter is important. Use this email or letter as a guide to the next steps they need to take regarding vacating the property. You should send this ASAP, after the confirmation call, in order to maintain all momentum. Within this email should be the information your tenant needs for future steps. Include the following:

  • The tenants move out date
  • Balance of rent owed to the move out date
  • When the final inspection will take place
  • A moving out checklist
  • Repairs and maintenance request form
  • A copy of the property condition report

The moving out checklist can include a list of things that need to be cleaned before the tenant hands back the keys. Being proactive here will mean that the tenant will be more likely to hand back the property within acceptable standards and receive their bond back. This will ensure the property is in great condition, ready for new tenants to move into. You should also have your tenant inspect the property for any damages and complete a repair or maintenance request form so these can be dealt with as quickly as possible.  

Step 4: Start advertising your property

Getting new tenants to replace those leaving is important for reducing any delays in receiving ongoing rental revenue. It is best to begin advertising 4-6 weeks out from the date the property will be available for tenants to move into.

Before advertising the property ensure you discuss the possibility of open houses and inspections with the existing tenant. This could be an inconvenience for them as they are busy moving and having intrusions can be frustrating. Therefore, it is important to work with them to ensure they feel valued. It is best to have them agree to some short open houses spread out over time.

Step 5: Optional pre-vacate inspection

An optional inspection that you can carry out is a pre-vacation inspection. In this inspection, you will visit the property and talk to the tenant about anything that needs to be cleaned or fixed. Generally, this inspection is done one week prior to the tenant handing back the keys. This inspection can be used to help the tenant ensure they are doing all that is required to receive their bond, and so, you can have a smooth transition to the new tenant.

Step 6: Keys are handed back

When the key handover day comes there are a few things you should note. Firstly, check that the keys returned are the correct keys. Do this by comparing the keys to images of them in the property condition report. Secondly, ask for a receipt for the carpet cleaning before the bond is refunded. This way you can ensure that all steps have been taken to put the property in the best condition.

Thirdly, in the case where your tenant had pets, they should have the property sprayed for fleas by a professional. If this has not yet been done, they may arrange for you to organise the spray and take the cost out of their bond. Finally, you should use this time as a chance to get their forwarding address. This will be important if there is any mail that needs to be forwarded, or any other problems are encountered.

Step 7: Outgoing inspection and reporting

Once the keys have been received it time for the final inspection and reporting. You should print a copy of the property condition report to take with you to the final inspection. Use this report to note any wear and tear not reported on the property condition report.

If you can, have your tenant join you for the final inspection. Being face-to-face can eliminate disagreements or miscommunications regarding any cleaning or repairs required. When conducting this inspection look at the following items:

  • What condition are the walls in? Has there been any damage beyond normal wear and tear?
  • What condition has the carpet been left in?
  • Check all light fixtures and exhaust fans
  • What condition is the garden in?
  • Are there any other damages beyond standard wear and tear?

Step 8: Agree on the next steps with the bond

This is the crucial final step. Creating goodwill and making your tenant feel valued is vital to ensure all steps go smoothly, especially if the tenant needs to give up some of their bond. Sometimes there will still be some cleaning or other items which need to be completed after the tenant moves out. You should always aim to help the tenant get their bond back. So, explain what needs to be done to achieve this early on (which is why we suggest the moving out checklist). With this list, your tenant should be able to complete all items up to an acceptable standard in order to get their bond back. However, sometimes this is not possible, and so some of the bond needs to be used.

Once you are ready to claim funds from the bond, fill out the online claim form and print it out for your tenant to sign. Then, this should be sent to your bond board. It is important that you work quickly and get this completed as soon as possible. Your tenant will be thinking all about getting their bond back once they have finished their move.

Conclusion

It is vital that, upon receiving a notice to vacate from your tenant, you follow these steps. It will ensure that each subsequent step goes smoothly, and the whole process has minimal headaches. Another way you can make this process easier is by hiring a professional property manager. They will take care of this entire journey on your behalf so you can stress less.

If you are looking for a property manager, reach out to Link Living.

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