What Happens To Your Apartment After You Leave?

Share Button

If you're like many renters who moved into a new place today you may have been caught out in the heat/cold last night. Your old lease ended yesterday. Your new lease didn't begin until this morning. What to do? You may have crashed with a friend or found a hotel room to sleep in. You might have even spent an uncomfortable night in the car.

No matter where you slept, you probably wondered (grouchily) why leases couldn't start and end neatly at midnight. The answer, of course, is that apartment maintenance crews need time to turn over an apartment in between renters. Below is a pretty typical punch list of everything that a work crew would need to do in an apartment in those few hours in between when you move out and when the next folks get the keys. Bear in mind that this would be effective only for a larger landlord that had spare appliances and paint sitting at the ready. For a smaller landlord such things are certainly luxuries.

  • Recommend a 3 person team. One on the bathrooms, one on the kitchen and the third on everything else.
  • Retrieve the keys and the forwarding address provided by the outgoing tenant. Normally we had them placed on top of the fridge. Test to make sure there are working keys to every lock. Tape over any locks without matching keys.
  • Take pictures of every room.
  • Run a damage checklist noting any abnormal damage to walls, windows, ceilings, floors, fixtures and appliances.
  • If any of the following conditions are noted, please let us know as we will need to push back the move in:
    • Extensive cigarette tar on walls - requires full rip out and replace of all surfaces.
    • Extensive water damage anywhere.
    • Fire damage.
    • Biohazard situation.
  • Remove all remaining tenant belongings. Small shiny objects like electronics and jewelry go in labeled plastic bags and get stored at the office along with the keys. Large items get stored in the basement for 1 week in case tenants come back to claim them. Everything else goes in the trash. No workers are to make the jewelry run alone.
  • Make sure to clear out the fridge, closets and cabinets.
  • Test all outlets and note any damaged outlet covers.
  • Remove all outlet covers as well as range hood cover and check for prank fish.
  • Replace any damaged appliances.
  • If the freezer is iced over, unplug the fridge so it can defrost while you work.
  • Remove and replace all light bulbs.
  • Run an infrared cam over the bathroom and kitchen walls to make sure there's no mold growing underneath the paint.
  • If there are steam radiators set all valves to fully open position.
  • Replace any ceiling fans that wobble.
  • Bathroom:
    • If mold was found, take out the offending areas with a sawzall, replace with mildew resistant board, paint, patch.
    • Scrape and paint the windowframes if they exist.
    • Replace any loose towel bars.
    • If there is an exhaust fan, take it out, clean it, change the light bulb and put it back.
    • Test that the toilet flushes properly without leaking. Sit on the toilet and see if it rocks at all. Fix any issues discovered.
    • Check that there is a showerhead. Replace it if not.
    • Snake the shower and sink drains and the toilet.
    • Hit all tile, vinyl and porcelain surfaces with bleach. Patch and paint any drywall surfaces with semi-gloss paint.
    • Note: We did not refinish bathtubs unless we knew we had at least 3 days between tenants for the refinishing to dry.
    • Leave at least a half roll of TP.
  • Kitchen:
    • Same mold treatment procedure as above.
    • Pull out the stove, fridge and any other large appliances. Clean the floor underneath and the backside of the appliances.
    • If the stove, microwave or range hood are completely covered in grease it may be more efficient to replace them and clean the old ones after crunch time.
    • Replace any obviously broken or damaged appliances.
    • Wipe down all cabinets. Remove any stick-on hooks.
    • Replace any missing cabinet knobs and ensure stove knobs and fridge door handles are secure.
    • Remove and replace any damaged sections of countertop with matching pieces from stock.
    • Wipe down the inside of the fridge and freezer.
    • Make sure all burners work on the stove, as well as the oven and broiler.
    • Make sure the fridge can actually cool stuff down.
    • Make sure the sink can provide adequate water.
    • Put a large bowl of vinegar in the dishwasher and run a cycle.
    • Test and clean any other appliances.
    • Replace the fire extinguisher.
    • Same disinfecting/paint process as above, again with semi-gloss paint.
  • Other rooms:
    • Replace any wobbly ceiling fans.
    • Replace all mini-blinds.
    • Scrape, patch and paint all walls. Only hit baseboards, moldings and cornice if needed.
    • If carpeted: Check carpet for damage. If intact, steam clean. If damaged, pull up that room and replace the carpet.
    • If not carpeted: Walk over every section of floor looking for loose boards. Pay special attention to areas around steam radiators and under windows as they tend to get wet and warp. Fix any damaged sections.
    • Note: We did not do a re-varnish of wood floors unless we knew we had at least a 2 week gap between tenants.
    • Make sure all the quarter round at the bottom of the baseboards cleanly meets the floor.
    • Adjust or sand down any interior doors that do not close fully. Make sure all doors have doorstops and emergency lock popper wires.
    • Remove and replace any locks that were taped over when you checked the keys.
    • Replace all smoke and CO detectors.
    • Remove and drain washing machine, hit it with bleach, and clean the dryer vents.
    • Replace the furnace filter if it exists. If there is a humidifier replace that filter as well and make sure it's set to the proper position for the season.
    • Turn on the furnace and make sure it works. If it's above 60F degrees outside and there is central AC, test that as well.
    • Reinstall all the outlet and light switch covers after the painting is finished.
  • Vacuum/Sweep all floors on the way out.
  • Take pictures again.
  • Leave the front door unlocked.

That's the basics. No renovations, no major repairs. Just recovering from "standard wear and tear."

For an experienced crew this is a pretty simple list. They know in advance what is required for every turnover so they can pre-assemble kits of supplies for each room. The problems crop up when you have a large company with a lot of turnovers on the same day. I can remember one September when we had about 60 apartments all flipping in one 24 hour span, not counting the other 80 that had a month gap in between tenants. With six crews working the turnover plus a couple of runners for hitting up Home Depot throughout the day that still left only about two hours per apartment.

So next time you're grousing on someone's couch on your gap night between apartments, please understand that this is why you can't just move on in to the next place. Or even better, if you want to make sure your apartment is ready on the day you need it, try to rent one that's already empty.

RentConfident is a Chicago startup that provides renters with the in-depth information they need to choose safe apartments. Help us reach more renters! Like, Share and Retweet us!

Published by

Kay Cleaves