Buttery Smooth Move-Outs: The Art of Managing Renter Expectations

Can Property Managers Improve Resident Sentiment at Move Out?

Move-outs are a bit like breakups. The renter and the property manager, who had a stable relationship, suddenly find themselves in new territory, often full of fear and friction. Sounds familiar right? But is this friction truly necessary?

For better or worse, the move-out experience holds significant weight in shaping renter sentiment. As humans, recency bias is hard-wired in us, so a bad experience at the end of a lease will heavily outweigh any previous positive experiences. This can be disheartening, when you as a property manager have dedicated considerable efforts to ensure a renter’s satisfaction throughout their lease term. 

We at Obligo believe that a lot of this friction can be avoided through transparency and clear communication on both sides. This is why we launched our Renters Trust Awards, which recognizes property management companies that achieve a high level of trust and transparency with their renters. These property managers pay attention to two closely related metrics at move-out: renter sentiment and security deposit charge rates (also known as deduction rates).

Are you monitoring your charge rates?

During the move-out season, properties often see an uptick in negative online reviews. Oftentimes, this sentiment is a direct result of unexpected or unexplained deposit charges at move out. By setting expectations ahead of the move-out, transparently communicating about any charges, and by monitoring a handful of KPIs, property managers can significantly improve their renter’s experience and sentiment. 

As Obligo continues to grow, we have increasing visibility into large industry datasets, including average charge rates against a resident’s security amount at move out. See how your portfolio’s charge rates compare to our benchmarks: 

Single Family & Multi-Family Charge Rate Benchmarks

Single family portfolio charge rates are a bit higher, since a renter has more physical space to maintain and average lease lengths tend to be longer.  

Maintaining charge rates in line with peer averages will help you build resident trust, encourage positive reviews and generate word of mouth referrals. 

3 Steps To Delighting Your Renters at Move-out

Over the last 5 years, by analyzing thousands of move out charges and measuring renter sentiment, we were able to identify 3 simple steps that property managers can take to reduce friction and delight your renters at move-out:  

    1. Communicate Expectation Clearly 

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful renter-landlord relationship. During the move-out process, it is essential to clearly communicate your expectations to renters and provide them with as much detail as possible. By helping renters understand what you expect at move-out, you can reduce potential charges and avoid contentious conversations. If you don’t already have one, create a move-out checklist to provide extra clarity (You can even use our Move-Out Checklist as a starting point!).

    2. Avoid Surprise Fees

If there are specific fees you always collect during the move-out process (think: cleaning fees), consider collecting such fees upfront or, at the very least, informing renters about them in advance. Transparency is key. By eliminating surprises in the final bill, you can establish a sense of fairness and trust. Openly discussing and disclosing any standard fees will go a long way in reinforcing a positive relationship.

    3. Include Documentation

When it comes to move-out charges, make sure that you provide your renter with supporting documentation. Be sure to include photos, repair receipts and an itemized invoice. Transparency not only promotes trust, but it also provides your renters with important answers to questions they will inevitably have when it comes to move-out charges. 

Move out charges are a reality of the rental process, but by effectively communicating your expectations, ensuring transparency around move-out fees, and carefully documenting any charges, you can avoid troublesome online reviews and disputes, and ultimately create a better resident experience.

If you’re looking for more opportunities to delight your renters, schedule some time with our team to chat about your current security deposit and move-out processes.

* Average charge rates are based on data from residents using Obligo who have completed their move out.

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