The Landlords Step by Step Move-in Checklist

Landlord's should inspect their property before a tenant moves in and when a tenant moves out using a move-in checklist.

A move-in checklist can make moving day for both landlords and tenants far less stressful. For tenants there are vans to be hired, sofa’s to be carried, and a hundred boxes to unpack. For landlords, it’s important to have a system in place to make sure the move goes as smoothly as possible. This should involve the key handover, a welcome email or letter with all the necessary information for the tenants’ move, and a full rental inspection.

It is recommended that the landlord carry out the inspection using a move-in checklist before the new tenants move in. This should then be reviewed, signed, and returned by the tenants within 72 hours of them moving in.

You will want to read up on your local and state laws to ensure your rental property inspection is in compliance with any guidelines that may be in place.

Why Would You Need a Move-In Checklist?

A rental inspection checklist allows you to keep track of the condition of your property. More importantly, it ensures that both you and your tenant inspect the unit thoroughly upon move in. This means that the tenant can be assured that you won’t try and charge them for damages that were already there when they moved in, and you can easily identify any damages that the new tenants might cause during their tenancy.

You’ll review the property again when the tenant moves out and having a move-in checklist document signed by both parties allows you to hold your tenants accountable for any damages they caused beyond normal wear and tear.

You can download our free move-in checklist here.

What’s Included in a Move-in Checklist?

A move-in checklist should list each of the rooms in the unit with space to note the current condition. For any damages, you should include an accompanying picture along with the report.

The report should also include the property information, inspection date, the property manager or landlord information, and the tenant’s details.

Our move-in checklist template includes:

  • Entryway
  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Kitchen
  • Bedrooms 1 – 3
  • Bathrooms 1 – 2
  • Stairway
  • Hallways
  • Deck / Patio
  • Garage
  • Garden

Additionally, there is space to note the number of keys and the number and condition of any safety equipment such as fire alarms or fire extinguishers.

The report also has space to note any repairs that need to be made upon the tenant moving in and when the tenant moves out. Each of these repair items should be signed by the tenant as well, as proof that they are aware of and agree to the repairs being carried out.

How to Record the Property Condition on the Move-in Checklist?

You should check and record the condition of the following for each room:

  • Floor
  • Walls
  • Ceiling
  • Door & door hardware
  • Windows & window hardware
  • Closet fixtures
  • Window coverings
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors
  • Heat & air conditioning units
  • Outlet covers
  • Fireplace
  • Any included furniture

For the kitchen you should also check:

  • Appliances (check lights, handles, and appliance hardware for each item)
  • Sink & plumping
  • Cabinets & hardware

For the bathroom you should also check:

  • Shower & tub
  • All caulking
  • Toilet seat & bowl
  • Vanity
  • Plumbing
  • Faucets
  • Mirror

How to Efficiently Conduct your Rental Property Inspection

Once you have your move-in/ move-out checklist ready you need to conduct a walk-through. Make sure you are ready to take good photos – most modern phone cameras will be sufficient but if you do go this route make sure your images are time, date and location stamped.

Additionally, you will want to take photos of product manuals and appliance serial numbers and potentially videos of appliances in action to prove that they are in good working order. Finally, pair any of these photos with written documentation explaining any present damages. And, if there is damage whether you will repair the damage before they move in.

The tenant will need to independently review the inspection, as such you may want to conduct the walk-through with them present. Alternatively, you can send them the filled-out inspection form to sign-off on at a later date.

Essentials for Documenting The Condition of your Unit

As we have mentioned already, just running through the checklist isn’t enough. Just filling out a simple checklist won’t stand up in court. In order for your move-in inspection to properly protect you you will need to make sure that everything is fully and properly documented and all forms and images etc are securely stored away.

Take Photos

Photos of your property are an absolute must. We’ve mentioned already what your photos should entail, but, in short, they need to show clearly both the before and after of any damages. Add and location stamp to add legitimacy to your images.

Get Signatures

Both parties need to sign off on any and all inspections. If you or your tenant have someone else manage the inspection for you you should also have written documentation that all parties are in agreement to this substitute.

Hope for the Best, Prepare For The Worst

While we all hope for our tenants to be good, to look after our properties, and report maintenance issues in a timely fashion, there is always a chance that, whether by accident or on purpose that they cause significant damage to the property. You can protect against this, at least in part, with a good tenant screening process, however, it’s still best to stick to the “better safe than sorry” mentality. Completing full documentation using the rental property checklist tactics is key to your future success.

In Summary

  • Prepare your rental inspection checklist.
  • Complete both move-in and move-out inspections with your tenant.
  • Make sure that both parties sign off on all documentation.
  • Take pictures of everything and securely store them for reference.
  • A camera phone is fine for your pictures, however, make sure to timestamp your photos.
  • There’s no such thing as too thorough during an inspection.
  • Document whether damages will be repaired.

What’s Next?

After sending the move-in checklist, (which we suggest sending as part of your welcome letter) make sure to get the unit ready for new tenants by:

  • Professionally cleaning the property
  • Handover the keys to your tenants
  • Setting up online rent payments
  • Send the tenants the rental inspection checklist for them to sign off on and remind them that they need to return the checklist to you within 72 hours of moving in.