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A Move-In Checklist Guide For Landlords And Tenants

For both rental property owners and tenants, move-in day can be a source of great excitement. But, neither one should let themselves get lost in the activity. To shield both parties from future trouble and disputes, it is essential to prepare a move-in checklist.


The Importance of a Move-In Checklist

Every landlord and tenant can benefit from a rental property checklist. A move-in checklist is a practical and systematic method to monitor the condition of any rental property. It allows landlords or property managers to inspect for any damages to the property outside of usual wear and tear.

For landlords and property managers, a rental inspection checklist is a helpful guide that allows them to document the current state of the property. This way, when damage occurs as a result of the tenant’s actions or negligence, the landlord or property manager can hold the tenant accountable. Additionally, proper documentation can prevent future disputes concerning the return of the security deposit, as it is a way to record preexisting property damage.

There are also similar advantages to a move-in checklist guide for tenants. Prior to moving in, a walkthrough of the property with the landlord or property manager allows tenants to view the condition of the unit firsthand. This will help them maintain objectivity when examining the property’s state.

Furthermore, a tenant move-in checklist serves as a to-do list of sorts. If there are any items that need replacing or repairing prior to move-in or during the tenancy, the checklist can function as written proof.


What to Include in a Move-In Checklist

hand over paper | rental property checklistWhen constructing a landlord rental checklist, it is imperative to be as detailed as possible. In doing so, landlords and tenants can inspect every nook and cranny.

Missing a key element of the property, especially one that eventually suffers damages, will only prove troublesome when going through the move-out checklist inspection. The items in each move-in checklist will depend on the rental property, as not all units have the same parts.

In general, though, these are the items to include in a move-in inspection guide:

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Screens
  • Light fixtures
  • Lightbulbs
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC systems
  • Stairs
  • Hallways
  • Smoke detectors
  • Alarms or security systems
  • Outlets
  • Switches
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Baseboards
  • Moldings
  • Fireplace
  • Counters
  • Drawers
  • Cabinets
  • Closets
  • Shades or blinds
  • Appliances
  • Garbage disposal
  • Showers
  • Bathtubs
  • Toilet
  • Furniture
  • Parking area
  • Lawns
  • Backyards
  • Gardens
  • Patios
  • Balconies
  • Porches
  • Decks

For a more organized approach, inspect the property room by room. Landlords should start the walkthrough from the entrance and then work their way around the house or unit. The move-in checklist should also follow this format.


Document and Sign Everything

signing document | landlord rental checklistProper documentation will help both the landlord or property manager and the tenant in case of any future disputes. This is why it is not enough to simply conduct an inspection without recording everything.

Landlords or property managers must put the checklist in writing. Review each item and mark it with notes before moving on to the next.

It is equally important to take photos of every aspect of the property. This way, there is proof of condition prior to tenancy, and both parties need not rely on conflicting and unsubstantiated claims. In case of litigation, photos and documents can also serve as proof for either party.

Landlords or property managers must perform the walkthrough and move-in inspection with the tenant present. After reviewing everything, both parties must sign the move-in checklist to attest to the property’s condition.

It is a good idea to attach the checklist to the lease agreement as well for proper organization. This makes the move-out process and inspection much easier, too. Other than that, tenants should also receive a copy of the rental inspection checklist.


Use a Rating System

Because the move-in inspection process usually comes with many often-confusing steps, it is easy to inadvertently miss a few items. Landlords or property managers must use a uniform but simple rating system to avoid leaving anything out.

If there are any cracked tiles in the kitchen or lose floorboards, it is important to take note of them. Use the following shorthand to signify the condition of each item on the move-in checklist.

  • S – Satisfactory
  • NC – Needs Cleaning
  • NSC – Needs Spot Cleaning
  • NP – Needs Painting
  • NSP – Needs Spot Painting
  • SC – Scratched
  • NR – Needs Repair
  • RP – Needs Replacing
  • NA – Not Applicable

In addition to these signifiers, a move-in checklist must also include a portion where more detailed notes can be recorded. As always, supporting pictures are also recommended.


Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities

A move-in checklist serves a specific purpose, and that purpose is rendered useless without a comprehensive lease agreement detailing landlord and tenant responsibilities. While the Landlord-Tenant Law includes the basic duties of landlords and tenants, such language should also appear in the rental agreement.

Indicate what the landlord is only responsible for and what the tenant should cover to maintain the property. Make sure to use specific terms and be as detailed as possible. This will help landlords in case of legal disputes or difficult tenants.


Prepare the Property for Move-In

Landlords and tenants should come prepared when the move-in date finally arrives. As such, landlords or property managers should send the checklist to the tenant and schedule the inspection a couple of weeks prior to move-in. This will give landlords enough time to prepare the property for the big day. Here are some things landlords must do to get the place ready:

  • Make necessary repairs or replacements, or hire professional services to take over
  • Buy the products or supplies required, such as paint or doorknobs, to address problem areas
  • Clean the property, including the yard or garden, or hire a professional to do it


Never Miss Another Item

Moving in is always a busy time, but landlords and tenants should always make room in their schedule for move-in inspections. A walkthrough of the entire property prior to move-in will help identify problems and document its condition.

For the landlord, it means holding the tenant accountable for damages brought on during tenancy. For the tenant, it means spotting preexisting damages that should not be deducted from the security deposit. Though, it is easy to miss crucial items, especially small ones, without a proper guide. This is where a move-in checklist will come in handy.

If you are interested in renting a property in Florida, Florida Property Management can be of great assistance to you. Simply search by zip code for real estate companies, property management companies, or community association management providers that are close to where you are looking to lease your next property.