What is a Move-Out Inspection?
Why is a Move-Out Checklist Important?
What is Tenant Damage vs. Wear and Tear?
Walls and Paint
What Should a Move-Out Checklist Include?
A Move-Out Checklist Should Include
Rental Property Address
Tenant Contact Information and Forwarding Address
Field for the Move Out Date and Date of Inspection
Individual Sections for the Items in Each Room of the Property
Additional Blank Fields to Record Notes or Special Room Features
Larger Space for Documenting Comments
Places for Every Tenant and the Landlord to Sign
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Move-Out Inspections
Clear Communication – One of the biggest mistakes landlords can make is not properly communicating the move out process to their tenants. Tenants are busy packing and moving, so be sure to schedule the inspection ahead of time so everyone is on the same page.
Premature Promises – Never promise or discuss how much security deposit a tenant will receive before the inspection. Only a thorough inspection will reveal damages that could jeopardize the deposit.
Incomplete Information – Detail matters! As a landlord, ensure the inspection checklist is easily understood, and both clear descriptions and photographs document everything. This protects you in the event of a disagreement on the condition.
Inaccurate Charges – The move out checklist is a landlord’s proof of the home’s damage and the subsequent repairs needed. A failure to accurately or completely logging these charges could prove detrimental if there is a dispute. So, take care not to forget any items.
Sample Move-Out Checklist
You Received a Notice to Vacate, Now What?
When a notice to vacate is received, landlords must jump into action to secure a new tenant. Move out inspections are only a portion of the process. The entire process involves paperwork, scheduling repairs, marketing, showings, and more, all of which must be done promptly. To help guide you through the steps involved, check out the list below.
- Finalize the Move Out Date with the Current Tenant
- Evaluate the Local Competition and Begin Marketing
- Schedule and Complete the Move-Out Inspection Checklist
- Complete Turnover and Repairs
- Disburse Security Deposit to Former Tenants
- Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Service HVAC System
- Determine the Move-In Date for New Tenants
- Sign the New Lease
- Collect the Security Deposit, First Month’s Rent, and Other Fees
- Provide New Tenants with a Welcome Packet
- Complete a Move-In Inspection Checklist with New Tenants
- Follow Up
Finalize the Move-Out Date with the Current Tenant
Once your tenant has expressed their intent to move, finalize the date and time they will vacate. This is invaluable information as it aids landlords in pre-scheduling turnover work and inspections. Also, having the move out date allows you to set an availability date to begin marketing as soon as possible. Any steps a landlord can take to avoid extended vacancy is for the best.
Evaluate the Local Competition and Begin Marketing
Pre-leasing before the current tenants leave is a great way to limit vacancy time. Check out the local competition and adjust your desired rental rate so it aligns with the area. It is good to begin marketing 30 to 45 days before the current tenants move out date. Just be sure to allow yourself enough time to complete the turnover. Depending on the time of year, overall condition, or how many properties you have, turnover may take as little as a few days up to a few weeks. Either way, make sure you do not set an availability date you cannot deliver on.
Schedule and Complete the Move-Out Checklist
Ideally, the current tenant and landlord complete the move-out inspection on a mutually agreed upon time and date. This is your opportunity to document any suspected tenant damage and evaluate added repairs needed before the next move in. Take your time and take either photographic or video evidence to capture the condition of the home thoroughly. Not only does this determine what, if any, deposit is held but helps to avoid possible disputes.
Complete Turnover and Repairs
Complete any necessary repairs as determined by the inspection or local compliance laws. Standard turnover repairs include fixing the damage, completing renovations, a fresh coat of paint, changing HVAC filters, and re-keying the locks. It is also a good idea to hire a professional cleaning service if your budget allows. If a lead test is required, consider scheduling in advance to ensure services are available when you need them. Use only trusted vendors familiar with the quick turnaround rental properties rely on.
Disburse Security Deposit to Former Tenants
Once damages and repairs are determined, the remainder, if any, of the deposit can be returned. By law, landlords have a finite timeframe in which to do so, typically 45 days. If you opt to deduct, be prepared to provide itemized receipts documenting all charges.
Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors and HVAC System
Most local jurisdictions require landlords to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In between each tenant, take this opportunity to make sure all units are functioning properly. Equally important is servicing the HVAC system to ensure it is operating efficiently and at its full potential. If any issues arise, address them immediately.
Determine the Move-In Date for New Tenants
As potential tenants apply and are approved, verify their desired move-in date falls in line with your projected availability date. Be sure to clearly communicate any delays in completing repairs that may jeopardize tenants moving in on time. Remember to always give yourself a little cushion when setting the initial availability date, just in case issues arise.
Sign the New Lease
As a legally binding agreement, this is one of the most important steps. Take time to review the terms, clauses, rules, and any addenda carefully with your tenant. This signifies all of the details each party agrees to, so each side must understand their role and responsibility.
Collect the Security Deposit, First Month’s Rent, and Other Fees
Once the lease agreement is signed, collect all the necessary funds. All funds should clear before handing over the move in keys, so money orders or cashiers’ checks are best. It is also a good idea to require the rent to be separate from any security deposits. Some jurisdictions do not allow commingling of funds, and instead, deposits must be held in a separate account. Therefore, check your local laws and landlord requirements before accepting commingled funds.
Provide New Tenants with a Welcome Packet
Making tenants feel at ease in their new home is a solid foundation for a great landlord-tenant relationship. So, provide them with all of the key information they will need in one easy to read packet. Include a personalized welcome letter along with the essentials such as:
What to Include in a Welcome Packet?
- How to set up utilities
- Acceptable ways to pay rent
- How to report maintenance issues
- After hours emergency phone numbers or contact
- What to do if locked out
- Parking information
- Trash disposal and recycling schedule
- Owner or property manager contact information
- Community rules or expectations
- Neighborhood interests such as restaurants, nightlife, cultural attractions, or stores
Complete a Move-In Inspection Checklist with New Tenants
The move-in inspection is what is compared with the move out inspection to determine damage. Therefore, each time a tenant moves in, complete a new move-in checklist and take either video or photographic evidence of the property. This should be completed with the tenant so each party can sign off and receive a copy for their records.
To further enhance the landlord-tenant relationship, do not forget to follow up. Even with a welcome packet and the best intentions, questions still arise as tenants settle into their new place. As a landlord, reach out to tenants anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks after move-in. Check in to see how they are doing, ask if there are any further questions, or address any concerns. This simple gesture can go a long way in keeping your tenants satisfied with their decision.