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Essential Move-In Procedures for the Perfect Tenant Experience


Handling a vacancy can be a nerve-racking experience for landlords. So, when you finally have an approved application and move-in date, it is an exciting time. However, a landlord’s work does not end once the application gets approved. Move-in day requires preparation to go smoothly and create a positive and lasting impression on your new tenants. So, with that in mind, let’s review a few move-in procedures to ensure a perfect day!

Move-in Procedures to Prepare for the Perfect Move-In Day

Moving is a stressful time for everyone involved. That said, it is easy to forget or miss things without a solid plan in the hustle and bustle. That said, try to handle as much as possible before the actual move-in day to ensure each task gets the attention it deserves. Let’s look at the essential move-in procedures you can do ahead of time below.

  1. Make Repairs and Address Any Safety or Health Issues
  2. Schedule Professional Cleaning
  3. Complete Required Property Inspections and Compliance
  4. Prepare, Review, and Sign the Lease Agreement
  5. Collect the Deposit and First Month’s Rent
  6. Verify Utility Account Set-up
  7. Reiterate Move-In Procedures in Writing

Make Repairs and Address Any Safety or Health IssuesMake Repairs and Address Any Safety or Health Issues

Part of being a successful landlord is providing a safe and habitable rental property. That said, take the time to carefully inspect the unit for any potential hazards and make any necessary repairs before the tenant moves.

  • Safety Concerns – This could be anything from a missing smoke detector to a loose railing on the stairs. It is important to ensure the home is safe for occupancy and complies with both building and fire codes as a landlord. So, if anything is amiss, correct it as soon as possible to avoid costly liability.
  • Property Damage and General Repairs – Ensure all systems and appliances are in proper working order for your new tenant. Furthermore, address any damage or cosmetic issues such as holes in the walls, a broken window, missing tiles, or painting before scheduling a move-in date.
  • Health Issues – Typically, health issues refer to anything that could harm the tenant. For example, is there water damage or visible mold present? Mold is potentially dangerous to individuals with ongoing health concerns, but it isn’t good for everyone. Not to mention, mold can take hold very quickly and cause expensive repairs. So, it is best to address it as soon as possible. Also, was the home built before 1978? If yes, the home may contain lead paint.

Addressing these issues is best for your tenants and the health of your property.

Schedule Professional Cleaning

It should go without saying that the property needs to be sparkling clean for your new tenant. While owners can clean the unit themselves, there are many benefits to hiring professionals. That said, a reputable cleaning company has the staff, equipment, and experience to get the job done efficiently. Thus, freeing your time up for more pressing tasks. So, consider carefully the amount of time needed to clean a home from top to bottom and check out local cleaning companies in your area.

Complete Required Property Inspections and Compliance

Some jurisdictions require landlords to complete certain compliance items as part of their move-in procedures. For example, the property may need to have an inspection with the Housing Authority or a lead test completed. Always check with your local town to ensure you fulfill every obligation. Remember that missing a step could result in fines, loss of rental license, or possible litigation.

Prepare, Review, and Sign the Lease AgreementPrepare, Review, and Sign the Lease Agreement

The lease is the cornerstone of any great landlord-tenant relationship as it outlines each party’s rights and responsibilities. Therefore, this document demands your undivided time and attention.

As the landlord, take the opportunity to review the lease section by section as well as any important clauses or special provisions. For tenants, this is their best chance to ask questions and ensure they understand the terms fully before signing. This is also ideal for reviewing specifics about the property, such as any parking restrictions, waste management rules, or key amenities.

Once everyone signs the document, both the landlord and tenant should get a copy for their records.

Collect the Deposit and First Month’s RentCollect the Deposit and First Month’s Rent

Collecting funds is not something you want to wait on, and it needs to take place before turning over the keys. So, it is best to get this out of the way early. With a signed lease in hand, tenants should pay the entire security deposit upfront.

Additionally, some tenants will use this opportunity to pay the first month’s rent as well. As long as these charges are paid in full before move-in, you are good to go. The one exception is if the tenant is part of Section 8 or a Rental Voucher Program. Typically, the tenant is responsible for the deposit, but the subsidy program will disburse the first month’s rent once the tenant has moved in.

Verify Utility Account Set-up

In most cases, tenants are responsible for setting up utilities such as electricity in their own name. Therefore, this is an important task to handle before move in. As a property owner, you will be held accountable for any charges unless they can move the account into their name.

That said, some things can delay this process for tenants, such as previously unpaid balances with the utility company, company closures, or limited staffing. So, ask tenants to send over account verification a minimum of 3 business days before moving in.

Reiterate Move-In Procedures in Writing

Before move-in day, send tenants a few quick reminders via email. As we mentioned before, moving is stressful, and it is easy to become preoccupied and forget key details. So, reach out to your tenants a few days before and reiterate some important move-in procedures such as –

  • Confirm the agreed-upon move in time
  • Verify utility accounts
  • Reminders about parking restrictions
  • Instructions for elevator use for large items (if applicable)
  • A reminder of any outstanding funds due – if the first month’s rent was not already paid
  • Remind them to allow time in their moving process to complete a walkthrough inspection with you or your property manager

Day of Move-In Procedures for Landlords

The day has finally arrived, and your new tenants will be moving in soon. After the preparation above, the move-in day will hopefully be smooth sailing. However, there are a few additional steps to complete the process that are equally important to your success. Continue reading as we review these critical final move-in procedures below.

  1. Get There Early
  2. Complete the Move-In Checklist
  3. Include and Review the Welcome Packet

Get There Early

Moving day is stressful enough without the tenant having to wait on you to arrive with their keys. So, at the very least, be on time. Ideally, get there early and make any final preparations to ensure the best first impression possible on your new tenants. Consider having some cold waters or packaged snacks available to greet them and their friends, family, or movers. Remember, these first impressions set a tone for the entire landlord-tenant relationship, so make it a good one!

Complete the Move-In ChecklistComplete the Move-In Checklist

The move-in checklist is almost as critical as the lease itself. This document will serve as a comparison when the tenant vacates to determine any tenant damage versus normal wear and tear on the unit. So, this document needs to have a detailed description of each room as well as exterior spaces and list any known damage or defects.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to take photos of both the unit’s general condition and specific issues found. Once the inspection is complete, both the landlord and tenant need to sign and acknowledge the preexisting issues. Do not rush this step, as it will go a long way in preventing disputes in the future.

Include and Review the Welcome Packet

As a new tenant, especially one new to the area, moving means having a lot of information coming at them all at once. So, a small packet with essentials is a great way to welcome tenants to the area and help them easily find critical information. Common things to include in a Welcome Packet are the following items –

Include and Review the Welcome Packet

  • Contact Information for the owner or property manager
  • Instructions on where to send rent payments
  • Rules about painting or making alterations to the unit
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Procedures for reporting an emergency and standard maintenance requests
  • Property-specific information such as the location of the breaker box, water shut-off valve, and instructions on how to replace the HVAC filter. Also, if the unit has special amenities such as a gas fireplace, include instructions for use or maintenance.
  • Helpful information such as waste collection/recycling schedules or rules.

In addition to property specifics and helpful information, the welcome packet can include other items that help your tenants. The items below are optional but much appreciated if your budget allows –

  • Essential household items (such as a roll of toilet paper, hand soap, hand sanitizer, trash bags, or paper towels)
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • A small gift card to a local coffee shop or pizza place

What Happens After Move-in Day?

Once the hectic move-in day passes, tenants may have additional questions. Therefore, landlords need to follow up a few days after move-in. Reach out to your tenants to see if they are satisfied with their unit, have additional questions, or need to report a concern.

What Happens After Move-in Day?

This encourages open dialogue and cements your new professional relationship. Moreover, you can get ahead of any issues before they become a major problem, and the tenant knows that their satisfaction is important to you.

Make Move-in Day a Breeze with Professional Rental Management

Creating solid move-in procedures as part of your rental business is critical to a positive tenant experience and building a strong foundation of landlord-tenant relations. However, for individual owners, the many steps leading up to move-in day can become overwhelming. Plus, if you have more than one unit, scheduling everything needed can become difficult and stressful.

With professional rental management, owners can leave all the details to the experts with the staff and know-how to ensure a smooth transition. At Bay Management Group, we understand the long-term impact of having a great move-in day for tenants and owners. As a result, we have perfected the process from application to keys, so everyone stays informed and prepared to meet their individual obligations.

Once the move-in is over, our team continues to work on the owner’s behalf, handling maintenance needs, compliance, tenant communications, rent collection, and financial reporting. So give us a call today to find out more.