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Before a tenant goes into a new rental property and starts to unpack all of the boxes, there is one more document they need to work on. The rental lease is a good place to start, but they must also spend time doing a move-in checklist to check out the apartment and note the appearance and condition of the apartment ahead of time.
When this checklist is written the right way, the checklist provides some security to the landlord and to the tenant. For example, as a tenant, you have peace of mind knowing that you won’t be charged for any damages you did not cause on the property. for landlords, it allows them to get monetary compensation if the apartment is left in bad shape.
What is a Move-In Checklist?
A tenant should not move into a new property without a move-in checklist. This is a written checklist that helps the tenant and landlord to work through the property and check out the condition of each room. The tenant should do this with the landlord present. This allows them a way to look it over and discuss when repairs will be done and what kind of damage is present.
When the walk-through is done, the tenant and the landlord should sign the document together and date it. Both will need a copy of the document to hold onto. Once the tenant moves out of the property, they can bring that same checklist out and do another walk-through of the property. This can be compared to their notes from the beginning, giving them a chance to explain anything along the way and getting a good idea of how much of their security deposit they will get back.
Why Do I Need a Move-In Checklist?
There are different reasons why you may need a move-in checklist, based on whether you are the tenant or the landlord. This list may take a bit of time at move-in and check-out time, but it does provide certain protections for both parties.
For the Landlord
The landlord can benefit from this kind of checklist. The rental inspection checklist will help protect the landlord because it holds the tenants accountable for any damages that occur to the property, beyond what is considered normal wear and tear. If the property is still in really good shape, then the tenant will receive their security deposit back when they move out.
There are times when the tenant does not take care of the property. The landlord may notice this when they do the walk-through at check-out. They can look back at the original checklist and show that the damage was not present before and is more than regular wear and tear.
Light damage like scuffed floorboards or faded paint is normal. Even a few scratches on the wall will count. But if there is a giant hole there or an appliance now does not work and was brand new when the tenant moved in, the landlord will be able to utilize that information to use the security deposit or get additional money from the tenant.
Making a note of these pre-existing damages will be helpful because they minimize disputes later on when it is time to return the security deposit.
For the Tenant
This move-in checklist will provide some protection to the tenant as well. The tenant will be able to evaluate and record the full condition of the property during the move-in process to make sure that the unit is in good condition. They may also be able to check out which appliances and items need to be repaired and can make previous tenants responsible for damage, rather than the new tenant.
The tenant may use this checklist as a written record. If the landlord later tries to deny the tenant a security deposit or there is some kind of legal dispute later, this checklist will help serve as a written record to protect the tenant at a later date.
As the tenant is filling out this checklist, there are a few things to remember. They must:
- Stay organized and do a thorough assessment of the condition of the property. they can also request any of the needed repairs to be done by a certain date. Even if you are excited to move into the property, you need to hold the landlord accountable for safe and comfortable living arrangements or you could be on the hook for it later.
- Keep a copy of the paper. This will allow the tenant a way to access it later if they need to. If the landlord tries to claim the tenant did some damage or withholds the security deposit, then this is the written record of whether that is true or not.
This document is important for both parties to ensure the rental is in good working condition and to make sure that it stays that way. It is a bad idea on both sides to avoid the check-in as it can provide protection both when the tenant moves in and when it is time for them to vacate the rental.
What is Included in a Move-In Checklist?
There are a number of items that are included in the move-in checklist when you are ready to rent a new property. This form will often be organized with a separate section for every room within that property. This helps keep it organized and allows the landlord to personalize the whole thing based on the individual property.
Some of the items that the tenant will notice on the checklist include:
- Inspection items that are broken down room by room.
- Column for the condition when the tenant moves in
- Column for the condition when the tenant moves out.
- Columns that are meant to keep track of the costs of repairs when the tenant moves out.
- Extra fields to help add personalization as the tenant inspects the features of the property.
- Fields for the tenants’ forwarding address so the landlord is able to follow up and ask questions if needed.
- Signature lines for up to three tenants, though more can be added if necessary.
For larger properties that may need extra bedrooms or bathrooms to fill out, you will need to bring a few extra copies of the template. This ensures that the condition of the rental property checklist is completely filled out and nothing is left behind.
The tenant and the landlord will need to use this form to go through the whole rental property together. This will help them to figure out what the condition is and come to some agreement when the tenant moves out. This also helps avoid unfair practices from the landlord and keeps the landlord protected if the tenant caused damage.
How to Fill Out a Move-In Checklist?
It is important that the tenant and landlord work together to fill out the move-in checklist and make sure that everything in the apartment is in good working order from the moment the tenant is ready to move in. The amount of time this takes will depend on the size of the apartment, but make sure not to rush through it or you may miss some important elements too.
To fill out a move-in checklist, you will need to:
- Ask the landlord to conduct a walk-through of the property with you. This should be done before you sign the lease on the property.
- Get a property condition report. The landlord may have a copy of this or you can look for some templates online to make this easier.
- With the landlord by your side, you can do a walk-through of the whole property. take notice of the carpeting, floors, windows, woodwork, walls, and ceilings of each room and note them down on the form.
- When you are in the bathroom, check for the fixtures, look at the outlets, and check the appliances as you walk through.
- Check how well the toilets, tubs, and sinks are draining. If you need to, take a moment to notice any broken or missing components.
- Test both the heating and the air conditioning to make sure they work well.
- The checklist will have some items on it for each room. Make sure to note down their condition as you walk through the rental. If there are additional items in the room, add information on those in the comments.
- If you do not see any unacceptable conditions, you can sign and date the property condition form. You would keep one copy for your own personal needs and then give one back to the landlord.
This form needs to be kept on file for the duration of your tenancy in the property. When it is time for you to move out of the property, you will be able to refer back to the form to see the original condition of the property when determining whether you took care of the property from the start.
How Should I Record the Condition of the Property?
The checklist that you fill out will only have a little bit of room inside for you to note the condition of the rental property. Some of the terms that you can use to donate the condition of the property include:
- S for Satisfactory
- NC for Needs Cleaning
- NA for Not Applicable
- NP for Needs Painting
- RP for Needs Replacing
- SC for Scratched
- NR: for Needs Repair
The tenant should discuss each of these with the landlord and see when some of the items will be replaced or repaired. Signing it can help to make the document legal.
Do I have to fill out a move-in inspection form?
While there are not a lot of legal requirements for filling out this form, it is a good thing to take some time on. The tenant and the landlord will be able to go around and take notes on the condition of the property when you first move in. That can later be compared to how the property looks when the tenant moves out. If the tenant spends a year or more in the property, it may be hard to remember the condition of the property before. Filling out the rental inspection checklist can help with this.
How long does the move-in inspection form take?
This will depend on the size of the property being inspected. A studio apartment may only take ten to fifteen minutes to get the work done, while a full residential home could take half an hour or longer to get the complete checklist filled out. The tenant should not rush through the checklist and it may be a red flag if the landlord is trying to push them to get done faster. Complete the checklist fully before agreeing to move into the property.
Do I need to be there for the tenant move-out checklist?
Some landlords will be able to do the move-out checklist on their own. It is still a smart idea for the tenant to be there. This gives them a chance to see things the way the landlord does and to ask questions or work through negotiations. If the tenant is not there, the landlord will do the inspection on their own and then decide whether to send a deposit back or not. It is possible the tenant will not like the final results of that.
How complete does the rental move in the checklist need to be?
The more information that the landlord and tenant can add to the checklist, either when the tenant moves in or when they are ready to move out, the better. This will help make sure that the tenant is not charged extra for any damages that were already present or would be considered normal wear and tear. It also protects the landlord because they can use the form to prove a defect was not present when the tenant moves in.
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