Guide to Preparing a Chicago Rental Property for a New Tenant

What should be done to a Chicago Property prior to New Tenant Move Ins.

Tenant turnover procedures and responsibilities can take up a lot of time, but another reason you may feel like you’re running around all over the place can be chalked up to doing tasks that are unnecessary. In order to ensure you’re making the most of your time, you need to be aware of what’s truly required of you as a landlord or property owner when one tenant moves out. Finding out what your responsibilities are between tenant occupancies can not only save you a lot of time, but it can save you some money, too.

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Set Realistic Expectations

While in a perfect world all of your tenants would patch holes in walls, scrub the floors until they sparkle, and do everything else necessary to bring the apartment back to life, that will almost never be the case. Tenants can generally be expected to clean the apartment before they move out, but they’ll be busy focusing on getting their moving plans and their new apartment in order, not making sure that their old place is in perfect condition and prepped for new tenants. Keep in mind that the responsibility for making the apartment ready for your next tenant will largely fall on you and your property management company. A professional deep cleaning is highly recommended for all newly vacated apartments after any necessary repairs and cosmetic touch ups/upgrades are completed.


Transfer Utility Accounts

Ensure all applicable utility accounts for the property in question are switched to the new tenants for the date of move-in to avoid paying for their bills. Unless stated in the lease agreement that certain or all bills are included in rent, it is advised to ask for evidence of account numbers set up in the incoming tenants names for the address of the property. Utilities such as gas, electricity, and water are the most common bills to be aware of, as utilities can often be forgotten about amongst the bigger

Repairs, Renovations and Replacements

Think about what you would expect an apartment to look like when you moved into it for the first time—that can be a starting guideline to knowing what you need to do for your tenants. For instance, if the paint and walls are dirty, scuffed, or scratched, you need to repaint them so that the apartment looks its best. Carpets may need to be replaced, broken appliances/features will need repairing, and non-working items will need replacing. Your new tenants are paying to live in a comfortable, habitable space, so it’s up to you to make sure their new home is livable and inviting. This upkeep will also help to attract high quality and happy tenants who will be more likely to look after the property and pay a higher rental rate.

Security and Safety

Beyond aesthetic work like repainting, your new tenant should be made aware of their responsibilities for maintaining their own safety and that of the property. For example, reporting any maintenance issues in a timely manner is imperative to addressing issues in a timely manner.


You’ll also need to rekey the locks for the apartment if previous sets of keys are not returned. This is a security measure that will prevent former tenants from having access to the unit, and thus, it keeps your new tenants optimally safe. Be sure to get the keys back from the old tenant, as well. Even with rekeying individual units, many buildings have master keys for the main entryway doors that may not be rekeyed every time someone moves. If a tenant doesn’t return keys, you may want to charge a fee to cover costs (and, when this is noted in the lease, it can incentivize them to return the keys!). If the tenant still doesn’t return keys, you’ll have to rekey everything their set had access to and take the costs from their security deposit.


A walk through inspection before you schedule any maintenance, so that you can make note of any repairs or other damages you’ll need to take out of the departing tenant’s security deposit (if there is one). Take photos of the unit and any damages and write down detailed descriptions of what was left for you to take care of. Having a detailed list of what you’ll be retaining a portion of the deposit for can help you down the road, particularly if the tenant fights you on the withholding of any or all of the deposit.

Make sure that everything is still in proper working order before a new tenant comes in. Check that the shower, toilet, and sink in the bathroom all function as they should, that the refrigerator and freezer are still working, and that electrical appliances, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, security alarms, and lights in the unit are still safe—there should not be any loose wires or broken bulbs when a new tenant moves in. You may not be required by law to provide new tenants with working light bulbs, but that small cost can be a good start to the tenant-landlord relationship, and should be considered. Filters should also be replaced or at least checked at the end of every tenancy.

How Property Management Companies Can Help You

If you’ve never worked with a property management company for your properties, you may be surprised at how much they can help with tenancy turnovers, as well as other aspects of being a landlord. They’ll be able to contract out the necessary work, market the property for new tenants, oversee and manage any work occurring at the property, and communicate with departing tenants to get everything squared away for you. You can hand off all of those pesky jobs to someone else and really reap the benefits of owning investment properties through true passive income.

Here at Lofty, we believe that owning investment properties shouldn’t be a headache. We take care of everything our owners need, from screening tenants to doing the physical work between occupancies. Stop wasting time checking whether lights are working and sweeping baseboards and start enjoying being a landlord and property owner!

For more information about how we can help you live the life you deserve, contact us today. Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.


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