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CategoriesProperty Management
Rental Unit Turnover

Improving Unit Turnover Timelines

October 25, 2022

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The unit turnover process is a common issue for landlords and property managers, as any time a unit spends without a tenant is time the unit is losing potential revenue. This process tends to have some redundancies involved, such as performing multiple inspections of a unit and adding work to the scope for the turnover.

Staggered Move Outs

One option for ensuring smooth turnovers is to schedule lease expirations at different times of the month as opposed to having all leases start on the first of the month, for instance. For starters, this allows property managers to rent out a unit as soon as it is ready for new tenants, instead of waiting for the first day of the following month. But it also allows some breathing room for contractors to complete the work required on a realistic timeline, rather than being pressured to rush through work for several units to be ready for the first of the month. Depending on the number of units managed by a landlord, having all leases expire at the end of the month can create serious bottlenecks in the turnover process.

2023 Rent Increase

Since the goal of turnovers is to reduce the time between tenants to as small a gap as possible to maximize revenue, it is vital that the notice period is used efficiently to plan and coordinate any work needing to be completed in the unit to ensure it can go on the market as soon as possible. One effective option for streamlining the turnover process is implementing automatic “triggers” throughout the process, and enforcing strict timelines.

For example, upon receiving a tenant’s notice of intention to vacate their unit, this should automatically trigger the scheduling of a thorough walkthrough of the unit to ascertain its condition and determine what routine maintenance work is required, and where more significant capital work may be required. Subsequently, the completion of the walkthrough should automatically trigger the scheduling of maintenance and capital work as soon as the unit is vacated. Contractors should be scheduled for the required work well in advance of the tenant moving out and, assuming that the work is properly scoped from the outset, all work can be booked and completed as soon as possible following the tenant’s move out date.

Improve Inspections and Work Scoping

One of the common redundancies in the turnover process is the need to perform multiple inspections of a unit, catching additional maintenance or capital needs each time. The initial walkthrough of a unit should be as thorough as possible, using a consistent template to ensure nothing is missed. Scoping the work correctly at the outset of the process will ensure all necessary work is scheduled as soon as possible, without undue delays.

Regular Preventative Maintenance

Another common oversight that can drastically streamline the turnover process is regular preventive maintenance. It is often assumed that conducting regular inspections of units and making investments in maintaining and upgrading units throughout a tenant’s residency would be more costly and time consuming than just waiting for a lease to end before performing all required work at the same time. But there are simple solutions for folding this priority into existing processes, streamlining unit maintenance and the turnover process, while also increasing the quality of tenants’ units while they can still enjoy them.

Typically, landlords conduct annual inspections on all units, and this can be an opportunity to assess any maintenance and capital needs. There are commonly understood lifespans for things like flooring and appliances, and this can be tracked for each unit and used effectively in unit inspections. For instance, if a tenant moved into a unit 5 years ago with all new appliances, and it is expected that ovens will have a life span of 5-10 years, then moving forward all unit inspections should include an assessment of the oven to ensure it is still in working condition. If it is determined that the oven needs to be replaced, it can be replaced in a timely manner, both improving the experience of the existing tenant, and reducing the eventual unit turnover time when they move out.

Digital Options

Many of the above options for reducing unit turnover time can be managed efficiently with appropriate software and document templates. For instance, scheduling software can be used to implement automatic triggers in the turnover process, and to track the lifespan of appliances and fixtures for each unit. Inspections can be standardized with an efficient template to ensure all staff can perform consistent inspections, and that all required work is scoped accurately in the initial walkthrough.

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    Derek Green is a licensed sales representative with RE/MAX Eastern Realty Inc. Brokerage and Managing Director of Ontario Apartment Group. For over 20 years, Derek has worked with developers, public energy corporations, public healthcare and educational institutions, public and private REITs, and institutional and private investors across Canada.

    Derek’s sales and advisory experience includes single asset and portfolio sales in the multifamily, office, retail, and industrial sectors, student residences, institutional consultancy, multifamily redevelopment and repositioning, divestment and consolidation of public healthcare assets, and pre-construction apartment leasing, as well as property management, general contracting, restoration of historic architecture, and new home construction.

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