Re-Inventing Vacates In Property Management
When we speak with Property Managers about which part of their jobs they don’t like doing, most of them say “vacates”. This is quickly followed by “dealing with conflict”. In many Property Management businesses, the two go hand-in-hand and there’s a reason for that!
The key reason is that the Tenant’s expectations often do not match what we deliver and therefore this creates frustration and even conflict.
We often make jokes when Tenants use the old saying ‘It is cleaner now than when I moved in’. Whilst it’s funny to think about receiving a dollar for every time we’ve heard that old chestnut, it is in fact possible to eradicate that statement in your Property Management business forever.
And, here is how we do it …
Think about the process we use for Tenants moving into a property. We educate them through the ‘sign up’ process. We spend time with our new Tenants helping them to understand what will happen, and what could happen, throughout the course of the Tenancy. The reason we do this is that it saves us precious time down the track. In some Agency’s that we work with, this process is taken as seriously as inducting a new staff member. Highlighting what will happen, and what could happen, at the beginning helps us to build a strong relationship and ‘kick off” the Tenancy relationship in a positive way and without drama.
But, as an industry, what do we do for the end of the Tenancy? Often we send our vacating Tenants information through email or the post that they don’t have time to read or understand. We conduct the Vacate Inspection only to find out that there are items to be fixed or that rent needs to be paid before the bond can be finalised. And this is where the conflict starts.
This practice indicates a clear discrepancy in the way we approach moving in versus moving out in our industry. We wouldn’t use the ‘on a wing and a prayer’ approach to begin a Tenancy – by emailing or posting information they don’t have time to read, so why use it to end a Tenancy?
Many of our Coaching Clients have adopted a process of conducting a Vacate Appointment. By simply reversing the ‘sign up’ process to the ‘sign-out process’ or Vacate Appointment the Tenants vacate easily and receive a bond refund quickly. Using this process helps Agencies to embrace Vacates rather than cringing at the thought. Think about some of the items you could discuss at the sign-out or “Vacate” appointment:
- How much rent is required to be paid by the end date of the Tenancy in order for the Bond to be finalised?
- What invoices need to be finalised prior to the end of the Tenancy – eg water?
- Can you provide assistance to Tenants with recommendations for a cleaner and/or carpet cleaner as well as other Agency endorsed tradespeople who can make their lives easier?
- How can you help your Tenant understand how what you will do at the exit inspection and the importance of referring back to the entry condition report?
- How can you educate the Tenant about the standard of cleanliness required to ensure that they receive a full bond refund?
- What will happen if a Tenant happens to miss something?
Using positive dialogue such as ‘Our focus is to help you vacate with minimum stress and ensure that you receive your bond refund as quickly as possible” is very different to “if you don’t do the following, your bond is in jeopardy”. It is more motivating for the Tenant and dispels some of the “them and us” mentality that can lead to disagreement and conflict.
When considering how well you currently do in this area, ask yourselves:
- What percentage of our Tenants have to return to the property after a vacate inspection?
- What percentage of our Tenants have their bond finalised within a few days of vacate?
- What percentage of our Tenants say ‘it was cleaner than when I moved in?’
If you want to make your lives and the lives of your Tenants easier, why not consider implementing the sign-out process or Vacate Appointment to help your Tenants vacate well? It will save you hours of precious resource time and eradicate much of the angst normally associated with Vacates.