Most successful landlords understand the importance of a move-out checklist. It’s the document that requires both landlord and tenant to go through the rental property a week or so before the tenant moves out.
Landlords prepping a unit for turnover might think that the condition of the property is good enough or they are so familiar with the property that certain wear and tear issues just aren’t noticed. Remember that showing an empty unit is a big part of attracting the right applicants, and sometimes the smallest thing gone wrong can turn visitors away from your perfectly good rental property.
If your rental property can pass through this checklist with flying colors, you are well on your way to meeting even the highest expectations. But first, let’s get into why you should even have a checklist in the first place.
Why Have A Wear And Tear Checklist?
Oh, the age-old question, why should I even have a wear-and-tear checklist? For one, if you plan on owning multiple rental properties, it helps simplify the process and even expedite it in some cases.
It also gives the landlord a chance to officially record the condition of the unit in the presence of the tenant to assess if there are any damages to the property. However, every property experiences wear and tear, and often those do not get recorded, and really not addressed when turning the unit over.
Wear & Tear Vs. Damages To Property
We’ll start with the basic definition of “wear and tear” which is the loss, injury, or stress to which something is subjected by or in the course of use, especially normal depreciation.
For example, fading or peeling paint can occur through normal use, the same with things like wooden floors that are being walked on every day.
But then, let’s take property damage. In a nutshell, property damage harms a particularly normal functioning piece of a rental property. Keep in mind, normal functioning, but also subject to wear a tear.
When damage is involved it’s more than just a steady decline like wear and tear, typically resulting in neglect, maybe by accident or even on purpose. Damage is far from anything having to do with ordinary use.
The Importance Of Having Property Photos
Think about this, let’s say you’re a landlord of five properties. You’ve renovated each property so that each of them looks relatively the same. It’s tough when you have a million things going on to keep track of everything, specifically whether or not a property has been properly maintained and especially if the majority of your properties have a similar style! Hence, the importance of having move-in and move-out photos.
For each property, you should consider taking photos during move-in and notating any wear and tear damage, which allows you to keep track of any additional wear and tear during the tenant’s occupancy.
When your tenant moves out, go through the same process, taking property photos and listing out damages. This is a good opportunity to make note of any new damage you may find and discuss the possibilities of repair and associated costs with your tenant.
Examples of normal wear and tear:
- Peeling paint
- Discoloration of grout
- Scratches in wooden floors
- Fading carpet
- Loose cabinet handles
Examples of out-of-ordinary damage:
- Holes in walls
- Tile chipping
- Broken doors
- Cracked mirrors
- Unremovable carpet stains
Tips to Keep Normal Wear and Tear Low
Again, here’s where the importance of maintenance of property really comes in. To keep wear and tear low, you have to make sure to take care of your property. Keep in mind, it’s not uncommon for something like an appliance to go awry during a rental stay. Appliances need to be properly maintained too.
To keep wear and tear low, you need to make sure your rental is tenant-ready. So what does that mean? For flooring, try to invest in lower-grade linoleum of some sort rather than wood floors. For kitchen countertops, think about doing laminate and solid surface countertops, nothing like butcher block tops. These types of countertops help to keep kitchens looking clean and classy.
For more information on the best materials to use in a rental to make it tenant-ready, check out this article.
Normal Wear and Tear Official Checklist
Here is a list of normal wear and tear items to check! Keep in mind, these are only suggestions and your checklist should be customized to suit your rental property.
- Perform a test of each smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.
- Plug something (like an alarm clock or your cell phone) into each electrical outlet to ensure they are all operating properly.
- Turn on every light to make sure everything has new light bulbs and that the lights themselves are functioning.
- If the rental property has a sliding glass door and screen door, open and close them several times to see that they meet no resistance in their tracks.
- Examine every window by sliding it open and closed, and testing every lock.
- Look at every window screen to see that they are whole and operational.
- Raise and lower every blind and also use the rod to turn the slats up and down to verify that each one works properly.
- Inspect the paint on walls, baseboards and ceilings to make sure you didn’t miss any holes, scratches or flaking paint.
- Check out all the door hardware in the rental unit. Open and close each door several times to ensure they are smooth and not “sticky.” Double-check that the front door has been rekeyed and that it opens smoothly.
- Look closely at the weather stripping around all exterior doors to make sure that it forms a tight seal to better regulate temperatures.
- Test the toilet paper holder and towel bars to see that they are secure in the wall and not loose in their brackets.
- Run all the faucets to ensure they operate properly. You are looking for proper drainage as well as adequate water pressure. Look under the sinks to ensure there is no moisture or drips.
- Flush all the toilets and check the back and base for leaks. Open the tank and double-check that the ball cock assembly is not only working, but working efficiently. Look at the rubber flap to make sure it is not warped, causing water to seep out into the toilet so that it constantly runs.
- Test every appliance in the unit to ensure that it operates properly. Don’t just assume that because your tenant never complained about them that they are working optimally. Run the dishwasher for a cycle, turn on the oven and turn on each burner on the stove.
- Turn on both the heating and cooling systems for the property, and don’t forget to monitor the filters, vents, and thermostat.
- Look into every closet to test the rods and any shelving there for looseness.
- Test all railings in the home to ensure they aren’t loose or wobbly.
- Walk the whole perimeter of the property and look at fencing, landscaping and vegetation. Keep an eye out for garbage, discarded or forgotten items like toys, and any hazards like holes or broken boards with nails.
- Stand across the street from the rental property and pay attention to anything amiss that catches your eye. Examples include loose roof shingles, overgrown shrubs, or a broken fence slat.
- Remove all equipment, and possessions and repair items completely. Commonly overlooked things include cleaning supplies, painter’s tape, and your 32-oz. Diet Coke, a toolbox and small pieces of garbage.
Time To Get To Checking
Taking the time to check out these issues in your rental property in between tenants is the best way to get ahead of more major repairs and set your unit up for showings. Even the pickiest applicants won’t find anything to complain about and you’ll have a lot less to do over the coming year when it comes to maintenance.