What to do when your renter says they’re moving out

Many rental agreements come to an end over the summer. Whether your renters have given you notice they aren’t renewing their lease, or they’ve submitted a notice to vacate part-way through their tenancy and are breaking their lease, there are steps you should take to make sure the process is as smooth as possible. This article outlines what you should do when your renters say they’re moving out to reduce administrative headaches and the risk of long vacancies between tenancies.

Receive the notice to vacate in writing

Your property manager should ensure that your renter’s notice to vacate is received in writing, either via email, post or hand-delivered in person. If the renter isn’t breaking their lease, they should give 28 days notice (unless they’re giving return 14 day notice after they’ve received a notice of intention to sell or notice to vacate from you already).

If the tenant is breaking their lease

This can be a stressful time if you’ve been counting on the income of the fixed term lease agreement. Everyone should stick by what they signed, shouldn’t they? Obviously, sometimes renters have to deal with circumstances outside of their control and need to break their lease. With the Victorian legislation, this is entirely possible and both parties need to work together if this should occur. Although renters are responsible for the rent up until the lease ends or the property is leased (whichever comes first), the caveat to this is that the rental provider must do everything within their control to minimise the loss to the tenant – this involves advertising the property and trying to lease it out as soon as possible. Renters are responsible for some costs in relation to lease breaks- but the reality is any charges are ‘pro rata’, they only need to reimburse an owner for the costs they paid to secure that lease, on a pro-rata basis for the amount of lease left. Confused? Reach out so we can discuss in more detail with you as lease breaks aren’t as black and white as one might hope.

Regardless of how the tenant is vacating – contact the renter to confirm the vacate date and end-of-lease requirements

If you have a property manager, they can reach out to your renter to confirm their vacate date, any rent owing, thank them for taking good care of your property (assuming they have) and provide a list of things they need to keep in mind when moving.

It’s important that even if your property manager calls to discuss this information with your renter, that everything is also confirmed in writing. This should include confirmation of the vacate date, balance of rent owing and when the final inspection will occur. If you have a vacate checklist, make sure you share this too. Sending the confirmation email is also a good time to send a repairs and maintenance form and a copy of the original entry condition report. It avoids a lot of potential miscommunication and stress when it comes to the vacate inspection.

Advertise your property

Once you have your renter’s vacate notice, you should get your property ready to advertise as soon as possible. If you’re able to advertise your property three to four weeks in advance of your current renter vacating, this will decrease the risk of your property being vacate too long between tenancies. At this stage, you or your property manager should also agree on some potential open home times with the current renter. Giving them plenty of notice will allow the renter to plan around open homes when they’re busy getting organised to move.

Complete the exit report and finalise the bond refund

Once the renter has returned their keys, the exit report can be completed. Key things to check during the exit inspection include the condition of walls, the carpet, light fixtures, exhaust fans / filters, and any outdoor areas such as balconies, lawns and garden beds. Once you’ve completed the exit report, let the renter know if they need to do any extra cleaning or odd jobs to get their full bond refunded. Otherwise, if everything is in good shape, you can refund their bond and the place will be ready for the next renters.

Keeping communication open and making sure the process of vacating your property is clear for your renters helps everything run smoothly. Whether it’s a break lease or your renters aren’t renewing their lease, getting clear on the vacate process using the steps above as a guide will help everything run smoothly and reduce your risk of vacancy between tenancies.

Remember, this article is general in nature and is not financial or legal advice. Please consult your professional financial and legal advisors before making any decisions for yourself.