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A Move-In, Move-Out Checklist for Landlords & Tenants

A Move-In, Move-Out Checklist for Landlords & Tenants

Preparing to rent out your property to a new tenant? Before handing over the keys, we strongly recommend providing them with a move-in move-out checklist. This important document will be used prior to the tenant moving in and upon the tenant moving out in order to assess any and all damage – including both pre-existing damage and new damage. The cost of repairing pre-existing damage, or damage that existed prior to the tenant moving in, will not be the responsibility of the new tenant. However, damage that occurred while the tenant lived at the property may need to be covered by the tenant. In this case, the landlord typically deducts the cost of repairs from the tenant’s security deposit. The move-in move-out checklist ensures that this process is handled smoothly and fairly. For a look at what is typically included in a move-in move-out checklist, keep reading.

Why is having a move-in move-out checklist important for landlords and tenants?

Move-in and move-out checklists are important because they protect both the landlord and the tenant by a) informing the landlord what (if anything) is newly damaged and in need of repair, and b) preventing the tenant from having to pay for pre-existing damage.

What happens if a landlord finds new damage to their property?

If damage to the property occurs while the lessee is living at the property, they may be responsible for covering repair costs. Typically, once the lease has ended, the home has been carefully inspected, and the move-in move-out checklist has been completed, the landlord will provide the tenant with an itemized list of deductions (if any) from their initial security deposit. Without proof of damage from a move-in move-out checklist, a tenant may be able to dispute the deductions. However, landlords who have a move-in move-out checklist in place should be able to prove that damage was caused after the tenant moved in.

How do you make a move-in move-out checklist?

First, start at the top of the inspection document with spaces for the tenant’s full name, the property’s address, the move-in date and the move-out date. We recommend making a note about when the first and last inspection dates took place as well as who inspected the property.

Once you’ve completed the top portion of the checklist, it’s time to begin the actual checklist below. In column one, include headings for all rooms inside the property. For example: Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, Bedroom #1, etc. Below each heading make a subheading for specific features such as floors, doors, light fixtures, walls and appliances. In column two, you will want to create a space for an inspector to fill out notes about the feature’s condition when the tenant arrived. Column three should be a space to describe the condition once they departed. In column four, landlords should be able to make notes about repair costs. At the bottom of the checklist, there should be a designated place for both landlords and tenants to date and write their signatures. Landlords should make several copies of the checklist, giving at least one copy to the tenants.

What rooms and features should be included in a move-in move-out checklist?

Examples of what rooms and features to include in this checklist include:

Living Room

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Windows and Window Treatments
  • Lighting
  • Doors and Locks
  • Fireplace and mantel
  • Smoke Detector
  • Electrical Outlets
  • Radiators
  • Other

Dining Room

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Windows and Window Treatments
  • Lighting
  • Doors and Locks
  • Electrical Outlets
  • Radiators
  • Other 

Kitchen

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Windows and Window Treatments
  • Lighting
  • Doors and Locks
  • Smoke Detector
  • Electrical Outlets
  • Radiators
  • Refrigerator
  • Oven and Stovetop
  • Dishwasher
  • Sink and Faucet
  • Garbage Disposal
  • Cabinets
  • Countertops
  • Exhaust fan
  • Pantry
  • Other

Bedroom #1

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Windows and Window Treatments
  • Lighting
  • Doors and Locks
  • Smoke Detector
  • Electrical Outlets
  • Radiators
  • Closets
  • Other

Bedroom #2

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Windows and Window Treatments
  • Lighting
  • Doors and Locks
  • Smoke Detector
  • Electrical Outlets
  • Radiators
  • Closets
  • Other 

Bathrooms

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Windows and Window Treatments
  • Lighting
  • Doors and Locks
  • Electrical Outlets
  • Radiators
  • Towel Racks
  • Closets
  • Sink and Faucet
  • Shower and Bathtub
  • Toilet and Plumbing
  • Other

8 tips for landlords and tenants when moving in and moving out

  1. Take before and after photos to document the condition of the property. These photos will serve as proof when determining whether or not something was damaged.
  2. Tenants should let the landlord know as soon as something breaks or becomes damaged. Landlords aren’t big fans of unwelcome surprises. So it’s always best to be open and honest about any damage that occurs to the property.
  3. Tenants should read over their lease carefully to find details on who pays for what (tenant’s responsibilities vs. landlord’s responsibilities) when something breaks or becomes damaged at the property. Keep in mind that though a property should be returned to the landlord in the same general condition that it was in when the tenant initially moved in, the tenant is not typically responsible for “general wear and tear.” According to Fit Small Business, “normal wear and tear is damage that naturally occurs in an investment property due to aging.” It’s not cause by abuse from the tenant. This might include those paint chips on the stairwell banister, rotting wood on the porch or dirty grout surrounding the bathroom tiles.
  4. Tenants should check with their landlord (and consult the existing lease) before making changes to the property such as painting or wallpapering a room. Oftentimes, a landlord will allow a renter to paint a room as long as the tenant paints it back to its original color before moving out.
  5. Don’t forget to check for pre-existing bug and pest problems. The tenant and landlord should make sure to walk around the interior and exterior of the home to check for damage caused by pests. If there is evidence of a problem, the landlord should contact a pest control service as soon as possible.
  6. Tenants should give the property a thorough cleaning upon moving in and out. Not only will this make the home more livable once they move in, but it will also increase the likelihood of receiving their security deposit back in-full.
  7. Landlords should find a reliable handyman to help with necessary repairs and maintenance of the property. From broken dishwashers to hanging wall art, having a handyman on standby will help keep your property in tip-top shape. It will also make it easier to find (and keep) tenants.
  8. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be properly installed throughout the home. It’s up to both the landlord and the tenant to ensure that batteries are replaced and that all devices are working correctly. When installing carbon monoxide detectors, we recommend having at least one on each level of the home. 

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