The Real Estate Investing Authority®

Maximize Return and Attract Quality Tenants During Turnover.

The Best Real Estate Investors Treat Turnovers As Opportunities.


Did your tenant just leave their apartment? We are sorry to hear this! Vacancy is your worst enemy (for many reasons) when it comes to your rental property. What we would like to do in this article is outline the most efficient way to process a turnover, and tips on how you can save money on labor/materials even if you have little to no contracting skills. When you are done you are ready to look for a qualified, new tenant! So, let’s jump into it.




Step 1: Confirm the unit is 100% vacant


We have run into situations plenty of times where a tenant says they are vacating on a certain day, and when we go they are still in the process of moving out. Or, in some cases, appear to have moved out but then reach back to us a week later saying they weren’t done moving and several high value items have gone missing. Don’t get caught in the weeds here! The best way to handle this and confirm vacancy is to get a message in writing from the tenant(s) AND get the keys back in person (or via mail). Once the tenant relinquishes the keys and gives written confirmation you are as good as gold!


Step 2: Clear out all debris


When handling the make ready for the next tenant the first step you need to do is physically remove all debris, garbage, furniture, food, and other non-fixture items. Tenants coming in have their own furniture, tables, etc. They don’t want or need your prior tenants’ trash! Get rid of it! In most cases you can get rid of the debris by bagging it and taking it away in your vehicle, but if you find that it’s just too much to transport your best bet is to rent a dumpster. The sizes vary from 5-30 yards. In most cases it makes sense to get the bigger one as the price difference is negligible and there is usually some debris in the basement + attic you can throw away while you have the chance.




Step 3: Check all appliances + fixtures


After your apartment is free and clear of all debris you can check all appliances and fixtures for their functionality. Check things like the temperature gauges, oven burners, oven light, microwave, light switches, heating/cooling systems, thermostats, sink faucets, etc. You’ll want to check these items ASAP because if they broken you may need a specialist to come in and repair/replace them. Specialists are usually in high demand, so you’ll want to schedule your appointment with them quickly.


Step 4: Schedule specialists


If you do discover that your fridge is broken, or your oven burner is broken go ahead and schedule that repair. In addition, we also suggest bringing in specialists to do things like carpet cleaning and tile/grout cleaning. Items like this are usually cheap to clean and make the apartment look a heck of a lot better (and smell great too).




Step 5: Patch, sand, and paint

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Painting is by far one of the most costly tasks we see during turnovers. The reason being is that typically multiple coats are needed, and if you have a large apartment those labor hours will add up quickly. Let’s be honest here folks, your paint job doesn’t need to be perfect. Even if you have limited contracting skills you certainly have the capability to learn how to patch and paint. There are many tutorials on YouTube and even free classes at places like Home Depot that offer weekend classes. We suggest that you use a simple color paint (preferably white). The reason is, white makes the apartment look clean + fresh, and if you must repaint in the future you won’t have trouble matching the old paint. If you make custom color paints you likely will have to repaint the whole wall in the future if a hole or blemish happens. With a simple paint like white you can easily do some touch ups as opposed to full paints. Money and time saved!


Step 6: Finish up with specialists + final odds and ends


When you finish your paint job you will learn a great deal about the apartment’s intricacies. For example, you may discover a loose handle here and there, a piece of caulk missing, an electrical plate cover cracked, etc. You should be utilizing your painting time to take notes on any small items that need to be addressed. You’ll want to finish up any odds and ends and take care of any pending items with your specialists. Once you button up all final items you are ready for your 7th and final step!


Step 7: Final clean


Don’t skip this step, we repeat, don’t skip this step! The final clean is your opportunity to put the cherry on top! Tenants coming in will love to see a crispy clean apartment, smelling fresh, and looking shiny! If you spend a few hours in the apartment you can make it look tremendous. The difference between clean and not clean can affect the price you rent it for, and the amount of time it will take you to rent it. So, don’t skip out!


In sum, you see that turnovers can be a pain in the neck, but even with limited contracting skills you can handle some tasks yourself to save money. Debris removal, painting, and cleaning can all be done by you and save thousands in potential labor and material charges!




We would love to hear your feedback on this topic! Post a comment below so we can start a discussion!


Gregory Rice is the Vice President of franchise sales for Nexus Property Management®.

Nexus Property Management® is a National Property Management Franchise that manages all types of rental property from single family homes or condos to large apartment buildings and complexes.


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Nexus Feedback

Requiring account login for every simple communication is a waste of time. Accounting system is needlessly complicated. Rent received notifications & rent deposit notifications frequently missing. Shouldn't take 2 weeks for rent paid to appear in checking acc't. Leasing procedures, background checks, tenant screening & selection are excellent.

19 Oct 2015

Nexus did a great job with my repair. James was on time and did an amazing job! Highly recommend this maintenance guy!

07 Jun 2022

I been with Nexus for almost a year and they're the best! I love how you can do everything online especially paying your rent. Its much easier for me to pay my rent online and more secure. I would recommend Nexus to anyone looking for housing. Also Mr Rice keep doing what your doing :)

03 May 2016