A move-in/move-out checklist is an essential document that allows a tenant and landlord to sign off any damages with ease at the beginning of a lease agreement and when it ends.
The checklist contains a list of essential areas of the house to be checked for possible damages or repair needs.
As a new tenant looking to move into a new apartment or a landlord preparing for the moving out of a tenant, a move-in/move-out checklist comes in handy. The move-in checklist allows new tenants to highlight pre-existing repair needs in a building. In contrast, the move-out checklist helps the landlord identify added damages that an existing tenant may have caused during their stay. It also helps prevent possible disputes over security deposits and ensures both parties know what’s expected of them. It can be substantial proof in case of a future dispute.
Beyond this, having a checklist also helps make moving in or moving out easier. It aids better organization of your belongings, reduces stress, enables you to keep proper track of your belongings, and acts as a good memory aid.
What Should be Included in List
With the importance of establishing a move-in/move-out checklist achieved, now it’s only right to know how to create one for yourself, either as a tenant or a landlord. This is why you need to know the basic things required to be in your move-in/move-out checklist.
Below is the generally accepted way of structuring your checklist and things to include in it:
Section A: Property information
In this section, you’re required to provide detailed information that can help describe and identify the house, even without seeing it.
This information includes:
Property’s name and address
As a tenant, your move-in checklist should have the correct address of the property. You can also include the name if there are any.
The resident’s name is vital for every landlord’s move-out checklist. This helps indicate that the checklist is meant for a specific tenant, thereby preventing mix-ups.
All information that aids the property description should be contained in the first section, and the apartment number is one such piece of information. Carefully mention it on the checklist.
The unit size also aids property description and should be included in a tenant or landlord’s move-in/move-out checklist.
Move-in inspection date
Move-in inspection is a visitation to the property prior to moving in. This visit aims to assess the building and highlight needed pre-existing damages or any other deficiencies, which the tenant can demand to be fixed before moving in.
Recording the move-in inspection date gives you a record to reference that the inspection was done, and some repair needs to be existed as of that date.
Move-out inspection date
When an old tenant informs a landlord about moving out at the end of a rental agreement, the landlord must inspect the property to ensure it’s in the same state the landlord rented it out. Any highlighted damage or repair needs that were non-existent during move-in will be taken care of with part of the tenant’s security deposit.
Recording the move-out inspection date as a landlord gives you an updated record of the state of your property.
Section B: House areas and items to be inspected
This section should contain information about the essential areas of the property and items to be checked.
You can grade these areas based on their state and the kind of repair they need, using a denotation of your choice—e.g., NC for Not clean, B for broken, etc.
Below are essential house areas and items for the landlord and tenant to include in their move-in/move-out checklist:
The bedroom is one of the essential parts of your home, and as a tenant, it’s vital to ensure it’s not short of comfort. Hence, you need to highlight and record the state of the bedroom floor, walls, outlets/switches, ceiling, windows, dresser, hangers, screens, blinds, closet, light fixtures, light bulbs, and other functional items in it. This will help you make a strong demand for repair.
On the other hand, the state of this house and its items determine the amount of security deposit to return as a landlord. If it’s in the same condition as your last move-out inspection date, it won’t affect the security deposit, vice versa.
Like the bedroom, new tenants should also check the state of essential components in the living room. These components may include wall paintings, chandeliers, light bulbs, outlets & switches, windows, doors, the room floor, ceiling, light fixtures, etc. Other electronics essentials should also be considered.
Inspecting these components can help a tenant demand repair where needed. It can also help a landlord deduct damages from a moving tenant’s security deposit.
If a dining room does exist in the property, it’s also worth checking. Both the tenants and the landlords should record the state of the dining table and chairs, the floor, wall, the light fixtures, outlets, switches, light bulb, ceiling, windows/coverings, and other components in their move-in/move-out checklist.
The kitchen is another important area of the home that requires a thorough inspection and should be recorded in your move-in/move-out checklist.
As a tenant, you don’t want to move into an apartment with a broken kitchen cabinet, a blocked/damaged kitchen sewer, and a broken tiled floor. Hence you should consider inspecting the kitchen sewer, cabinets, walls, floors, Range, Faucets, pantry/closets, equipment (e.g., fire alarm), windows, shades, outlets, switches, light fixtures, light bulbs, space for your cookware, extra storage space/store room, etc.
On the other hand, no landlord would want their property left in this state. Hence, the need to check this area and its components. State and record their condition in your move-out checklist.
The shower, bathroom sewer, state of the floor, walls, light fixtures, lightbulbs, switches, shades/blinds, windows, shower hook, tap, closets, cabinets, exhaust fan, etc., are amongst the significant items to be checked out in the bathroom area. Both the tenant and the landlord should properly record this information in their move-in/move-out checklists.
In a property whereby the bathroom and toilet are different, the toilet is another essential area to consider. The tenant should highlight and record the state of the water closer, the tap, the floor, the wall, the windows, light bulbs, switches, blinds, door, ceiling, the drain, and every other essential thing in the move-in checklist.
The landlord should also consider all these items in his move-out checklist to ensure his property is being left in its best state.
The entry of the property is the first point of interaction with visitors, and how appealing it is shaping their perception of how the interior would be. Therefore, the tenant should highlight basic things that need repair or fixing to make it look more appealing.
On the other hand, the landlord should use the required resources from the security deposit to put it back to its initial state if the old tenants are responsible for the degeneration.
Some other items to consider are:
- Cleaning essentials, e.g., waste bag, dustpan, etc.
- Laundry essentials
- Safety and first-aid essentials, e.g., band-aid or the first aid kit itself
- Home toolkit essentials, e.g., hammer, screwdriver
- Technology, etc.
The move-in/move-out checklist isn’t compulsory for all the U.S. states during lease agreement processing. It’s only needed if the landlord collects a security deposit. However, the following states require a move-in checklist:
|Massachusetts||Chapter 186, Section 15B(2)(b)|
|New Hampshire||RSA 540-A:6(I)(c)|
|North Dakota||§ 47-16-07.2|
|Oregon (Portland ONLY)||§ 30.01.087(D)(1)|
With the knowledge of the importance of the move-in/move-out checklist and what to include in each section of the list, creating one for yourself should come with ease now. You can always create one and compare it with our templates to see how great you’ve done.
The templates can also serve as an excellent guide when creating your move-in/move-out checklist, either as a tenant or a landlord. You can download customized and easy-to-use move-in and move-out checklists for free from below.
Benefits of Signing these Checklists
The move-in and move-out checklists protect your interest as a tenant or a landlord, respectively. It helps you identify what’s required of you and sometimes saves you some extra cost.
For the landlord
As a landlord, this section will help you understand the importance of having a move-out checklist. No matter how long a rental agreement lasts, you should make it a point of duty to carry out a move-out inspection.
The move-out checklist could also help you prevent major issues with your tenant over security deposits, as this is one common point or problem during a tenant’s move-out. It will help them understand your highlighted checkout procedure and the state your property should be in.
For the tenant
This section also explains why a move-in checklist should be one of the essential things a new tenant should put in place before planning their move-in.
A landlord with a move-out checklist can rest assured that his property is at low risk of being damaged. Even if this occurs, the checklist can help him ensure that he doesn’t cover the cost. The security deposit can only be returned in full if the tenant who is moving out leaves the property in the same state they met it.
The landlord isn’t the only one that benefits from checklists. The tenant can also leverage move-in checklists to demand repairs before moving in and counter any deductions in security deposits due to pre-existing repair needs at the beginning of the lease.
Hence, landlords and tenants cannot downplay the importance of move-in and move-out checklists. Some acclaimed real estate agents charge exorbitant fees promising to create the best checklist for naive tenants, but we see this as extortion. This article contains all the information you may need to create your own move-in/move-out checklists.