move in move out checklist

You’ve done it: You’ve renovated a property, found a great tenant, and are ready to begin their lease period. Once you’ve given them the key, you’ll be able to stop worrying about this property and move on to the next, right?

Yes and no. While finding a tenant and getting them into a property is a massive part of the rental business, you also have to consider the security of your property. And we’re not talking about protecting it from thieves or vandals!

We’re talking about the damage that can be done by the tenants themselves. Even if you choose your tenants carefully, the possibility of your property receiving some damage during the rental period is high.

Using a move-in, move-out checklist is a great way to keep track of the condition of your property and ensure that you can recoup the cost of repairing any damages that go above-and-beyond the normal wear-and-tear a property goes through.

Our guide will introduce a sample checklist, what you should do with your checklist, and how to ensure you document your property correctly with this form to protect your investment.

A Table of Contents for Rental Property Move-In, Move-Out Checklist Forms

What is a Move-In, Move-Out Checklist?

This checklist is used to keep a record the condition of the property before and after a rental period.

While the main benefits of using this type of checklist are for the landlord, the tenants will also benefit from being able to know and understand what condition the property is in when they move in.

Should you find any serious damages on the property or have a tenant challenge your security deposit withholding, having this document will be an essential tool to prove your case in a court of law.

While each half of the checklist (before moving in, after moving out) has a different goal, each part is essential to complete. We’ll go through each part of our sample checklist in detail and show you how to use them below.

Here’s an overview video of how to do a move-in inspection:

The Ultimate Move-In, Move-Out Checklist Form

We have put together the ultimate landlord tenant checklist for move-in, move-out walkthroughs for you to use:

Move In Move Out Checklist

Every part of this checklist is set up to ensure that you are taking complete account of each of your properties before and after each rental period. This checklist will guide you through every room and help you to document the property.

The checklist is divided into three main parts:

  1. Identification
  2. Room-by-Room Breakdown
  3. Signatures & Closing

A: Identification Section

The top section of the checklist covers identification. The following information should be added to this form before you begin to use it:

  • Tenant names
  • Property address
  • Move-in date
  • Inspection date
  • Inspector name
  • Inspection time

All of this information needs to be clearly identified before you begin as it clarifies what is being inspected, when, and by whom. When the move-out inspection is completed, you will once again want to add in the date, inspection date, inspector name, and inspection time to this top section.

The dates on this document should match up with the move in dates on the lease and also with the date and timestamps of any pictures taken during the walk-throughs.

B: Room-by-Room Breakdown

The following section of the walk-through is organized by room. Each room in the house should have a dedicated section, and each room’s section should be subdivided into a thorough list that points out every area that needs to be inspected.

For living rooms, common rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms, all of the following should be inspected:

  • Floors & Floor Coverings
  • Drapes & Window Coverings
  • Walls & Ceilings
  • Light Fixtures
  • Windows, Screens, & Doors
  • Front Door & Locks
  • Fireplace
  • Other

For kitchens, all of those items should be inspected in addition to the following items:

  • Cabinets
  • Counters
  • Stove/Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Dishwasher
  • Garbage Disposal
  • Sink & Plumbing

The breakdown in this form is extensive because you want to have a clear guide of everything that you should be inspecting. When you’re walking through a property, it can be easy to become distracted and forget to document something. With this checklist as your guide, it will become easy to be more thorough and take a complete picture of the property’s condition.

Here are a few in-depth videos on how to do a move-in inspection specifically for the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen:

Step 1: The Tenant Move-In Checklist

The first column of the chart on this form should be used as the tenant move-in checklist.

Complete the move-in checklist before the tenant moves in, and it is during that inspection time that you should fill in the first column.

In each cell, enter a rating or comment about the condition of the specific item. You might write “good,” or you might write “small nick on corner” to explicitly detail what the item looks like.

Additionally, it is good to take a picture of the condition of each item as you complete this column. Having these pictures is vital should there be any disagreements between you and the client about any property damages.

Step 2: The Tenant Move-Out Checklist

Fill out the second column of the room inspection chart after the tenant has moved out of the property. Again, you will walk through the property with the tenant, making notes in each cell about any damages or changes to the property.

Remember to take pictures to show any changes or damages that occurred.

Step 3: The Cost Column

The final column of this form is the cost of repairs column. In this column, write the estimated cost of any required repairs. Remember, you cannot include any damages that may have occurred through normal wear-and-tear on the property.

The total of these estimates can be withheld from the security deposit before you return it to the tenant.

C: Signatures & Closing

The final section of this checklist includes a signature section for each of the tenants as well as the landlord. Include dates with all signatures, and have everyone sign off on both the move-in and move-out inspection on the appropriate date.

If you took photos of the property, this section should include information about where those files are located.

How and When to Use This Checklist

You should use the checklist at two major points during the tenancy period.

Before Moving In

First, you should complete the move-in checklist with the tenant before they move in. You or your representative must be present during this walk-through; the tenant or the tenant’s authorized representative must also be present.

Using the first column of our sample checklist, you will walk through each room of the property and inspect the condition of specific areas. In particular, you will want to list if there are any damages or any areas that aren’t in a great condition. Ideally, you will take pictures of every single area detailed on the form.

Each area should be looked at together to ensure that both parties – you and your tenant – are aware of the exact record. Ultimately, everyone will sign the document to confirm that they agree about the state of the property before the tenancy period begins.

After Moving Out

The next time that you will use the checklist is after the tenant has moved out. You will want to complete the second column of the checklist form with the tenant after they have moved out of the property but before you return their security deposit..

If you find any damages, but you have already returned their security deposit, you would not be able to collect any money to cover those damages, so it is important that you do not return your tenant’s security deposit until the move out checklist is complete.

Once again, you and the tenant should walk the entire property. Together, review the specific areas that were checked before moving in. Compare the condition from before to after for any areas where there is wear or damage.

Was the wear-and-tear more than should have reasonably occurred? Are there any damages that will need repaired and were the fault of the tenant? Be sure to make a note of any oddities, and take pictures as well.

After the Move-Out Walk-Through

Once you have completed the walk-through, you will need to calculate any withholdings.

If you found the condition to be reasonably sound and without any extraneous damages, you can return the security deposit in full.

If, however, you found damages, you will want to get a quote on the repair cost immediately. Enter this cost in the third column of the checklist where applicable. Before returning the security deposit, subtract the cost of repairs and explain to the tenant what will be withheld from their deposit and why.

Why Using This Checklist Really Works

As a landlord, there are many things that you need to manage. From lease signings to renovations to rent collection, it can be hard to keep everything straight.

Frankly speaking, it can be easy to forget what a property looked like when a tenant moved in compared to when they moved out. It can even be easy to forget to look at something like the plumbing or the front door locks when doing a walk-through inspection!

Using a thorough move-in, move-out checklist like the one we have provided here makes it easier to ensure you check every item in the house during your inspections. The step-by-step itemization ensures that you are both thorough and fair and that both parties are satisfied with the walk-through.

For more information on how to handle a move-in inspection, specifically regarding checklists, check out this video:

Follow Through with a Smart Inspection

The secret to a great move-in and move-out inspection is to have the right checklist, and starting with our form will help you create the perfect walk-through guide for each of your properties.

While you could do a walk-through and take pictures of each item without having this form, this documentation can support your claims should you need to file against any type of dispute. Plus, having it can help both parties feel surer and more comfortable about the state of the property in question.

A great rental property move-in, move-out checklist is an essential part of protecting your property investments, and we believe that our form can help you be more successful with each walk-through!