Move in and Move out Checklists

Both the move in and move out process can be complicated and filled with steps that you cannot afford to forget. Proper checklists for both you and the tenant can minimize forgetfulness and streamline the move in and move out processes. Minimize your stress by taking a few minutes to understand the do’s and don’ts of move in and move out checklists.

Why it’s needed

A move in check list is necessary for you and the tenant because it helps you keep track of the condition of the property and prepare the unit for a new tenant. When you provide your tenant with a condition of the property checklist, the tenant will know upfront what issues the property already has. It also holds them responsible for any damages that are found after they move out. A clear condition of the property checklist keeps your tenants from claiming that they did not cause damage when they did.

A separate move in checklist for your personal use will be essential in ensuring that you have properly prepared the dwelling for the new tenant and completed all procedures required before they move in; you’ll save yourself a lot of money if you remember to exterminate before you move in new tenants.

A condition of the property move out checklist should always be used for determining what is deducted from the security deposit. The document will also help you determine if the tenants have caused damage beyond expected wear and tear. The move out checklist will serve as an important legal document should your tenant dispute the deductions from their security deposit.

By giving your tenants the move out checklist when they move in, they will be prepared from day one and know exactly what they are responsible for in order to receive their security deposit back in full. Again, your tenants will not be able to claim ignorance if you include the move out checklist during move in.

Much like move in, you should also have your own separate checklist during move out to ensure that you stay organized and do not forget anything during the process, such as collecting keys or a garage door opener.

Move in checklists

For the condition of the property checklist, you should separate different sections for each room and include all of its common parts, like walls and ceilings, doors, and floor and floor coverings. Include all rooms on the property, such as the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Do not forget about miscellaneous rooms like parking spots, outside storage, and garages. Have a key on the checklist that notes the condition of each item and if anything is needed. For example, you might use NC for needs cleaning, NP for needs painting, and SC for scratched. A detailed itemized list will be necessary proof to support any security deposit deductions made. Finally, have your tenant sign off on the checklist to ensure that they have gone through all rooms and items and agreed to the current condition of the property. Include it along with information on how to do other things, such as set up utilities, pick up keys, pay rent, report maintenance issues, or contact you if needed.

In addition, have an additional move in check list for yourself that details everything that you must complete before the new tenant moves in. Below are the recommended items to take care of before moving anyone into the unit.

1. Ensure the unit is habitable.

Because it is your legal responsibility to ensure that the dwelling is habitable, you should take care of any issues that may infringe on a tenant’s ability to peacefully live. Repair serious damage that may encroach on living conditions, such as removing any mold in the unit or lead based paint. Check that there is no structural damage inside or outside of the dwelling. You should also verify that the unit has a proper exit and entrance that is functioning properly in case of an emergency.

2. Thoroughly clean the property.

The extent of your property cleanup will depend on the condition left by the previous tenant; however, you should always include cleanup on your personal checklist. You may need to have the unit professionally cleaned, especially if you allowed the previous tenants to smoke inside. Remove or replace any carpets that may be stained or holding harmful smells, such as smoke. Double check that the dwelling’s walls are not stained and repaint any that are; you will likely have to repaint the whole unit if the previous tenants were smokers. Lastly, check that the outside of the property is clean and spruce up its curb appeal.

3. Make sure all utilities function.

If you have been taking care of utilities while the unit was vacant, this should be an easy item to check off your personal checklist. However, you should verify that the property has working heat, electricity, plumbing and gas. Without these essential utilities, tenants can claim that the property is uninhabitable and file a lawsuit. If you have not been covering utilities while the unit was vacant, you should turn them back on to ensure they are functioning properly before moving in a new tenant.

4. Exterminate and take care of any pests.

You cannot allow a new tenant to move in if the property is infested with any type of pests. Check for any damage that may be the result of bugs or animals. If you do notice damage, call an exterminator before move in to make sure all pests are removed before the new tenant moves in.

5. Include miscellaneous items.

Many cities require that you change the locks between each tenant, so make sure that you are complying with local regulations when it comes to security measures. Include this item on your checklist in the miscellaneous section.

You should also ensure that you comply with any other checklists that may be required by local or federal agencies. For example, if you work with Section 8 housing, many agencies will require you to complete their own checklist.

Finally, never forget to collect the first month’s rent, the security deposit, and any other applicable fees from the new tenant before handing over the keys. You may find it more difficult to collect if you give the tenant the keys beforehand.

Move out checklists

As stated before, you should have given the tenants the condition of the property checklist upon move in with their rental agreement. The tenant will be able to reference this document as they are preparing to move out, so that they know what items they are responsible for.

You can also provide the tenants with an additional move out checklist to make the process more efficient. This checklist should detail all steps the tenant should take before moving out; this can basically be a step-by-step manual on what to do before and upon move out. Give this checklist about two weeks before their final move out date so the tenant can properly prepare. You can include the following instructions to simplify the process:

  • Schedule your inspection
  • Mop and vacuum the dwelling
  • Completely clean each room
  • Clean all walls and ensure they are the same color as they were during move in
  • Clean all windows
  • Remove all personal possessions
  • Dispose of all trash
  • Leave all appliances and windows treatments that are not your possessions
  • Check that all light fixtures work and have working bulbs
  • Ensure that all utilities are working properly
  • Make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are in place and working properly
  • Leave all utilities on until the move out inspection is completed
  • Report all damage or issues to the landlord upon move out

Inform the tenant that they should be able to check off all of the above and that there should be no changes in the condition of the property checklist; make it clear that if the tenant cannot do so, they may not receive their full security deposit back. Use the same key in the condition of the property move out checklist that you used in the move in checklist in order to ensure consistency. If you us a different system during move out that what was used during move in, damage deductions may not hold up in court.

Avoid completing the final walk through where you calculate deductions with the tenants. They will likely want you to tell them that they have “passed” and will get their full security deposit back. They may try to claim that what you told them was legally binding, or if you will not agree to say that they passed, they may try to argue with you. There are many hidden damages that you may find a few days after the tenant moves out, which they may be able to hide if you do the final walk through with them the day they move out. By doing a final walk through on your own, you avoid telling them they are in the all clear if they are not and finding yourself in an annoying lawsuit.

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