The Importance of a Move-In and Move-Out Checklist

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A landlord/property manager is required to document any expenses that are taken out of a tenant’s security deposit; therefore, good documentation is vital. A move-in/move-out inspection with a checklist, pictures and/or a video is essential.

These Checklists can be Beneficial to the Property Owner and Tenant

The Move-In/Move-Out Checklist is a convenient, all-inclusive and reliable way to document the property’s condition. Tenants can benefit from a Move-In Checklist because any existing conditions will be predated to his/her occupancy. This checklist helps the landlord/property manager by reducing liability risks due to disagreements related to security deposit reimbursement; thus, protecting the value of the property.

Documenting Improvements/Repairs Made to the Rental Property

New carpeting, countertops and paint all need to be documented prior to new tenancy. Take pictures/video of the unit before the tenant moves in. Remember to take before and after pictures, and/or video of repairs made to the rental unit itself or its contents (refrigerator, stove, etc.) throughout each tenancy.

The Process

Prior to the beginning of the rental term, walk the tenant through the property.

What to look for and document on a walk-through:

Each room of the property needs to be addressed and documented separately. This is where a well-planned Move-In/Move-Out Checklist allows for a quick, yet accurate, documentation process.

Entire Rental Property

  • Missing ceramic floor/countertop or splashguard tiles


  • Scratches or burns on countertops


  • Toilet

These are just a few examples of items that need to be included on the checklist. Once the checklist is complete, date it. Both parties must sign the checklist. Any discrepancies need to be initialed by both parties as well. Additionally, if there is something that will be done to reach an agreement, clearly document the solution and the date by which it will be completed. For example, if there is a missing toilet paper holder, document the date that it will be replaced. Mail a copy of the completed and signed checklist to the tenant.

The Move-Out Checklist

At the end of tenancy, another walk-through must be completed. The Move-Out Checklist should be identical to the Move-In Checklist, barring any upgrades/changes made during the tenancy.

Any significant damage to the rental property that is not considered typical wear and tear must be documented. By documenting these damages, the cost of replacement or repairs can be deducted from the security deposit. Mail a completed, signed copy of the checklist to the former tenant’s new address.

Each state has laws that govern rental property. Some laws pertain to the amount of time permitted for a landlord to complete the Move-Out Checklist once the tenancy ends.

Written by

Entrepreneur-Investor-Founder. Posting tips and insights from my experiences in real estate, investing & entrepreneurship-

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