How Long Should you Leave Between Lets?

Naturally we all feel the pressure to get new tenants into our rental properties as soon as the previous ones move out because all the time our properties are empty we're losing rent, but there is an argument for having at least two or three days’ breathing space between tenants.

This provides opportunity to sort out any maintenance issues, which are generally easier to arrange when a property is empty, and to make sure it's completely ready for the new tenants.

How Long Do You Need?

Three days should also give enough time to make sure a rental is spotlessly clean and to prepare a new inventory and schedule of condition (or check in report) to hand to the tenants when they move in.

If the property has previously been let for two years or longer, ideally you should give yourself up to a week and maybe even a little longer before the next tenant moves in as it’s likely to need more maintenance and, at the very least, the property might need freshening up.

In nine years I've never had a property empty for more than a few hours, new tenants have often been waiting on the doorstep to move their stuff in while the previous tenants have been moving out, and while that has been good for my bank balance, it's been quite stressful.

No Downtime Can Cause Problems

One of the problems I've found is that tenants rarely leave a property as clean as it should be. Almost without exception, mine have ignored the requirement in their tenancy agreements to clean to a “professional standard” and all of them leave dirty windows, greasy ovens and they never bother to clean the carpets and dust inside drawers. At best they have a quick blast with the vacuum cleaner and wipe around the sinks, at worst they leave food rotting in the fridge and bathrooms that haven’t see a bottle of bleach for years.

As I’ve always had tenants moving in straight away, I’ve had no choice but to dash around myself, dusting and vacuuming, chipping limescale off taps, cleaning out fridges, ovens and scrubbing loos. It’s grim work, but someone’s got to do it.

Covering All Bases

Also, although you can arrange for an inventory clerk to prepare a schedule of condition at short notice, you’ll usually have to wait a few days for their report. You don’t have to have this ready for when the tenant moves in, but it’s good to have it a day or two in advance as the clerk might pick up on some maintenance issues you’ve overlooked.

If you don’t have long between lets, you can cut down on the time it takes to carry out repairs by asking the outgoing tenants to give you the heads-up on any problems they’re aware of, but in my experience they rarely bother alerting landlords to issues when they know they’re leaving so I’d also suggest going round to your property and carrying out a thorough inspection a week or so before the end of the tenancy.

This should give you time to get handymen, plumbers, electricians and anyone else you need booked in, but you’ll find it a bit less stressful if you have a few days when the property is empty to carry out the work.

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