Move-In and Move-Out Checklists That Make a Landlord’s Life Easier

rental-checklist“Procedures.” “Process.” “System.”

Ugh. The words have a jarring sound. Who wakes up in the morning, leaping out of bed, excited about policy and procedures?

But after shuffling dozens of tenants through move-in and move-out, we’ve come to recognize the value of having procedures and checklists. They streamline everything. They make the process faster and more efficient. They prevent you from smacking your forehead and saying, “Darn it, I forgot to do a walk-thru inspection!”

So we’d like to share some tips for tenant move-in and move-out. Feel free to copy this and use it for yourself, or sound off in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter if you have something to add.

Process for Tenant Move-In

When They Sign The Lease:

1. Print two copies of the following documents:

– The lease
– The EPA’s Lead Warning Statement (if the house was built prior to 1978)

Also print one copy (per tenant) of the EPA’s pamphlet, “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.”

2. Sit down with the tenant. Review the lease together. Explain anything that they don’t understand.

RELATED: Top 7 Laws Every Landlord Should Learn

3. Have the tenant initial each page of the lease, and sign the last page. Repeat this in duplicate, so you each can keep a copy.

4. Give the tenant the EPA pamphlet.

5. Have the tenant sign two copies of the Lead Warning Statement. Have each party keep a copy.

6. Give the tenant a checklist for move-in procedures, which include:

– Getting renter’s insurance
– Putting the electricity and gas in their names.
– Forwarding their mail

7. Schedule a time to conduct move-in walk-thru. Inform the tenant that they will not be allowed to gain access to the unit until after they complete a walk-thru with the landlord / property manager.

RELATED: 3 Important Practices Landlords Should Use During the Move-in

On Move-In Day:

1. Print two copies of the move-in walk-thru form.

FREE DOWNLOAD: rental-condition-checklist
Use this document as a template to grade the condition of all items in your rental unit.

2. Conduct walk-thru with tenant. Take photographs. Note the number of keys that you’ve given the tenant. Notate and sign forms in duplicate, so that you each retain a copy.

3. Email photographs to tenant, to further document the condition of the unit at the time of move-in.

Consider a “repair cost list.” This details how much certain things will cost upon move-out (in terms of the deduction from their security deposit). Leaving a burned-out lightbulb, for example, might cost $5.

RELATED: Learn More About Repair Cost Lists

The idea here is to get tenants thinking at the very beginning to treat your property with respect.

Process for Tenant Move-Out

One to Two Weeks Prior to Move-Out:

1. Schedule a preliminary walk-through of the unit. Alert the tenant, in writing, to the issues that need to be resolved in order for the tenant to receive their deposit back in full. (For example: Tenant must repaint walls back to their original color.)

Note: Be clear that this is not a comprehensive list, nor is it a guarantee of a full deposit return. It is merely a preliminary list of some, but not necessarily all, of the issues that need to be resolved.

2. Send tenant a “cleaning checklist” that outlines the expectations of how clean the unit must be.

3. Remind tenant that all their possessions must be removed by 12:00 noon on the day of move-out (or whatever time is specified on the lease). Schedule a time for the final walk-through of the unit, preferably at 12:00 noon or 1 p.m. on move-out day.

4. Arrange for a cleaning crew and a handyman to come to the unit on the afternoon of move-out day (or to at least be available and on-call).

On Move-Out Day:

1. Come to move-out walk-through with two copies (to be signed in duplicate) of three forms:

– The move-out inspection checklist
– The final move-out form. This form states that the tenant’s lease is over, all obligations are finished, and they will not be holding over (period-to-period).
– A form in which they indicate an address for all future mail to get sent.

Also bring a camera.

2. Walk-thru unit with tenant. Photograph any and all damage or uncleanliness.

3. Have tenant sign all three forms.

4. Email tenant any photos of damage.

5. After tenant leaves, instruct cleaning crew and handyman as necessary.

Within 30 Days of Move-Out:

Mail tenant their security deposit at the address specified, less any portion of damages that are removed from their deposit. Include a letter outlining the damages, and send copies of contractor estimates covering the cost of damage repair.

Your Turn

Do any other landlords have suggestions for tenant move-in or move-out checklists? Is there anything else that you’d add to the list? Tell us in Comments, on Facebook or on Twitter. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty eNewsletter for helpful articles, tips and guides for every kind of homeowner, seller or buyer.