In this guide we will be providing move-in inspection forms and showing you how to do a proper move-in inspection for your rental property.
The link above can be used as your move out inspection form as well. As a side note, if you’re in the process of onboarding a new tenant we suggest you read our article on setting up a new tenant. This will cover how to handle utilities, handing over the keys, and setting up proper procedures.
If you haven’t used a move-in inspection form before, it’s extremely important because of what the #1 issue in landlord-tenant court is…
… you’ll find out in the first minute of watching the video below (I’m such a tease).
If you want to win that court battle you have to learn how to do a move-in inspection the right way.
I’m not the most experience to speak on this subject… but I can hold a camera for someone who is.
Andrew Schultz is a Property Manager of about 120 doors (as of writing this post) here in the Western New York area and he was kind of enough to show us how he does a move-in inspection.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, this video is long but Steve and I explain in the first few minutes why it’s important and how you can avoid losing a court battle by following Andrew’s advice.
How to use a Move-In Inspection Form
Good photos are so important when doing a move-in inspection.
Here are a bunch of the highlights (from the video above) that I really appreciated from Andrew’s advice.
1:30 – Cellphones have great cameras now. You’ll just want to get an app that can timestamp all of your photos. Below are a few apps that can do this a couple of them also allow you to put your location of your rental property and take timestamp videos too.
Android Timestamp Apps:
iPhone Timestamp Apps:
2:00 – Create a frame of reference for each photo and stitch photos together using that reference
3:45 – Document floors and ceilings to show how clean they are. Tenants might spill around the stove, sink, and fridge
4:25 – If you think you forgot a photo, shoot it right away and don’t try to remember at the end of the photo shoot
4:54 – Shoot cabinets starting at the top and go left to right. Then move to the bottom.
5:45 – A stupid stove knob can cost $28! Document everything!
6:35 – Take a picture of product manuals to show the tenant was shown how to take care of appliances
7:45 – Countertops can be sources of damage when tenants cut directly on the counter
8:10 – Use your thumb to show the sink draining and disposal working (might be a good use of timestamp video too)
9:30 – Appliances are very expensive so take plenty of photos (Andrew shares how he learned an expensive lesson)
10:50 – Get a photo of the serial and model number sticker. This is helpful if you need replacement parts
12:00 – Technique police use to document a crime scene is what you should be using to document your rental and any damages you see
14:00 – Dishwasher tips
15:45 – Refrigerator tips and documenting dent damages
17:30 – Check the seal of the fridge
17:45 – Check your room one more time to see if you forgot anything
18:15 – Tips for shooting windows and screens
I wasn’t lying when I say Andrew is a wealth of knowledge.
Here’s what the video above didn’t cover.
Have Your Tenant Sign Off On The Move-In Inspection Form
Photos are your proof in court that damages happened while the tenant lived in the rental.
You’ll also want to fill out a Move In Move Out inspection form and have your tenant sign off on it.
We have that form for you as part of our Landlord Starter kit. You can get it for free by clicking here (same form as given above but with additional resources).
Just make sure you’re making a written documentation of any damages that are present before a tenant moves in.
You’re protecting your security deposit when you have this form signed and you also have good photos.
How To Do A Move-in Inspection | Bedroom Shoot
In this video Andrew shows how he does a move-in inspection for a bedroom. Below are some of the highlights of this video.
0:00 – Make sure you take good photos of the doors
1:00 – Stitch together your photos
1:25 – When you have bright contrast (shooting a window) tap on something like an outlet on your screen to focus there
1:53 – On a move out inspection take photos of dirt and grime
2:10 – A good example of “wear and tear” item that you wouldn’t charge a tenant for
2:40 – Take good photos of the closet but understand a lot of closet scuffs can be considered wear and tear as well
Wear and tear is important to understand so you’re not charging a tenant for something that shouldn’t be deducted.
How To Do A Move-In Inspection | Bathroom Shoot
Here are the highlights from this video:
0:00 – Start with shooting the door
0:30 – Shoot extra photos to stitch together the corners because it’s a small room
0:45 – Adjust camera brightness when shooting a window
1:15 – Take good floor shots because this is an area that a lot of damage can occur
2:05 – Eric being a ham
2:25 – Use your hand to show the sink is flowing well
3:00 – Take photos of damage to the blind and screen
3:30 – Use a quarter for reference of damage size on tub
A bathroom can definitely be a problem area for your rental. It might be a good idea to take a timestamp video of the fan, shower head, tub drain, and sink drain all working well. You could take that in one shoot too.
Final Thoughts On Apartment Move-In Inspections
Highlights of this video:
0:00 – Take as many photos as possible and don’t worry about bad photos
0:40 – Give a thumbs or thumbs down of smoke detectors
1:15 – Sign off on a move in condition form
1:25 – Consider a 7 day grace period for your tenant to report any additional damages
2:00 – Make sure you get your security deposit upfront
2:15 – Do a quarterly inspection of your apartments to look for maintenance concerns
2:50 – Reach out with questions in our Facebook Group
Here’s a link to see all of the photos Andrew took of the Kitchen, Bathroom, and Bedroom in the videos above.
If you have questions the best way to ask is to join our Facebook group where you can connect with Andrew, Steve, or Myself and plenty of other landlords as well.