Updated: Feb 8
The move-out process is the landlord’s handling of the tasks he should perform after the tenant has vacated the premises upon termination of the lease. Important tasks include:
Confirming the tenant has surrendered the premises
Inspecting the premises immediately upon tenant’s vacating to ensure the property is secure and safe.
Inspecting the premises to determine if a security deposit claim needs to be made
Documenting all damages to the premises, repairs/replacements that need to be made before renting the property again
Calculating any monies owed by the tenant under the lease agreement
Making a claim on the security deposit
Performing any repairs/replacements
These are important to enforce the lease terms, preserve and protect the property, maintain the value of the property, and reduce liabilities.
After the tenant has vacated and you have taken possession, take the steps to transfer the utilities in the landlord’s name to keep the power on. Note: if the previous tenant has an unpaid bill, the utility company should not discontinue or refuse service when you switch the utility to the landlord’s name or when a new tenant takes occupancy. See F.S. 180.135.
Tenant Confirmed Surrender
Confirm that the tenant has surrendered is important to avoid any liabilities for terminating the tenancy too soon. See Termination of Tenancy. Confirmation from the tenant can come by any form of communication, but best practice is to get the tenant to affirm in writing that the tenant has surrendered, whether by tenant’s written notice, email or other electronic communication.
Confirm the exact vacate date, because it is important relative to the landlord’s duty to make a timely claim on the security deposit. Once the vacate date is confirmed, mark your calendar 15 and 30 days from the vacate date to ensure that you comply with F.S. 83.49. See Security Deposit Claim Process.
Inspect the Property
Once it is confirmed that the tenant has vacated, inspect the premises immediately, advisably, the day after the vacate date.
This is important to ensure the property is safe and secure. Examples of problems that could exist, and thus, would need to be remedied immediately: (1) water leaks, (2) unlocked or open doors, (3) property-damaging conditions (e.g. putrid smells coming from trash, (4) refrigerator doors opened, (5) squatters taking possession, (6) A/C not set at a good temperature.
This first inspection could be used as an opportunity to take initial photos for purposes of documenting the property condition immediately after the tenant vacates. This helps to prevent the tenant from arguing that a security deposit claim was improper, or that someone else caused the damages or condition in question.
Note what items need to be addressed in the property and assess what vendors may need to be hired to perform services to repair or service the property.
Did the Tenant Violate Obligations
Assess what tenant obligations under the lease agreement were not complied with. For example, regarding yard maintenance, did the tenant:
Keep and maintain the premises in good and sanitary condition: mowing, “weed-eating,” raking, weeding flowers beds, trimming shrubs, etc.
Water the lawn
Keep all drives, walks and streets edged and clean by removing dirt and debris
Keep the premises free from any and all dangerous conditions
Keep the siding clean and free of mold, mildew and/or debris
Replenish mulch in the flower bed
It is highly recommended to use a lease agreement prepared by a landlord-tenant attorney and know your lease agreement well, and if you are a property management company managing properties on behalf of an owner, you are required to use what is known as the FAR-BAR lease or an attorney-prepared lease agreement.
Did the Tenant Pay All Fees
Identify what fees or monies the tenant was obligated to pay according to the lease agreement but didn’t pay. Examples may include:
Carpet cleaning fee
House cleaning fee
Assessed and unpaid fees during the tenancy
Note and account for all unpaid fees and monies owed and make a claim on the security deposit.
Once you have determined what repairs need to be made and what repairs are the landlord’s and tenant’s obligations, notify the landlord of what repairs the landlord should make based on his obligations under the lease agreement and F.S. 83.51(1). The purpose of the landlord’s obligations is to:
1) keep the property habitable according to F.S. 83.51(1)
2) properly maintain the property (e.g. avoid liability)
3) get in rent-ready condition and maximize rent value
Order vendor services to repair the items specified in your work order request. Document the rent-ready conditions, as it will be important to holding the next tenant accountable to any damages you determine that tenant caused during the tenancy.
Security Deposit Process
Once you have inspected and determined what fees are owed, what repairs need to be made and what damages occurred, determine and account for what repairs or damage the tenant is responsible for.
For repairs or maintenance that is NOT the tenant’s responsibility, separate those estimates/invoices from the landlord’s obligation to get a true and accurate amount that is the tenant’s responsibility.
If the lease agreement provides for the tenant to pay certain fees that the tenant has not paid, account for those and include them in security deposit claim.
Once all repairs have been made to get the property ready to rent again, prepare to list the property for rent.
There may be instances where a landlord will want to delay some repairs until the property is re-rented (usually because the landlord is short on funds). The property manager must assess those situations on a case-by-case basis to decide whether you want to concede to the landlord’s wishes. Factors to consider are as follows:
Some repairs are very difficult to make while the property is occupied. The more difficult it is to repair while the tenant is occupied, the less willing you should be to concede.
Some repair needs could cause the tenant to immediately become dissatisfied with the property and may set the course for a bad relationship in the future. Some tenants are understanding about minor repairs (as long as you follow through with making the repair), but some tenants are not, which can cause more problems than it is worth to delay repair.
Some repair needs could cause additional problems if not remedied quickly. The best approach is to mitigate and reduce as many problems as quickly as possible.
Any repair need affecting the habitability or rentability of the property should be remedied prior to renting again.