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In the property management scene, there is so much that goes into getting new tenants.

Most of it is pretty typical, like screening them, creating the lease agreement, and signing it.

However, there's a lot more that goes into new tenants moving into your rental property.

One of the most important things is the landlord-tenant checklist. Also known as the move-in checklist for landlords, this form is filled out when a new tenant moves in.

This checklist is extremely important, so if you don't know much about it, we recommend you stick around.

To get started, we will be going over what these checklists are and why they are important.

What is a Landlord-Tenant Checklist?

A landlord-tenant checklist is a list of things that should be done and inspected before and during the tenant's move-in process. The same checklist applies for when the tenant moves out, as that is when property damage is typically noticed.

This checklist is important because it clearly outlines the condition of the property for both the landlord and the tenant. Filling out this checklist is also helpful because it can be used when the tenant's security deposit is in question.  If the differences between the move-in and move-out checklists extend past normal wear and tear, the security deposit can be affected.

For this reason, it is extremely important that these inspections are conducted in person with the tenant instead of over the internet. This is because you want to be able to ensure the tenant that what is being written down is actually true. There are also some other reasons that it should be done in person which will be covered later.

It is also important to make sure that all checklists are done according to local and state laws. This completely depends on where you are located and they can vary depending on location.

But the most important thing, however, is to make sure to do everything correctly. And to do everything correctly, you should probably follow the tips that we provided in the next section.

What to Include in Your Landlord-Tenant Checklist

Before actually filling out the checklist, there are some things that the landlord should make sure have been done. Below, we have provided some of the most important things that must be done before the tenant moves into the property.

Pre-Inspecting the Property

For the landlord, it is beneficial if the initial checklist does not highlight many issues with the property. So, to mitigate the risk of this happening, a pre-inspection should always be conducted.

This part of the process is extremely important because it is important for the property to be in good shape for prospective tenants. If it is done correctly, the landlord would not even have to worry about inspecting the property before the tenant moves in.

Although it may seem like property managers and landlords keep their properties in good condition all year long, it is very easy for a vacant property to remain untouched for long periods of time. Especially in these cases, maintenance should still be considered at least a few times a year.

Provide the Checklist Beforehand

This is a very simple task between the landlord and the tenant that can save a ton of time. What it is is simply providing the tenant with the landlord-tenant checklist that is going to be used prior to the move-in date. By doing this, you ensure that you and the tenant are on the same page and can move through the property much quicker.

Another benefit of this is that it helps with forming a stronger relationship with the tenant. By doing the checklist together you can also speak to the tenant and find out more about them.

Completing the Checklist Together

As mentioned before, one of the most important things is to go over the checklist together. This has benefits for both the tenant and the landlord.

For the tenant, it can be a chance for them to ask questions about the property. These can be about the methods to pay rent, how to use online rent payments, how to report maintenance issues, or how to use any property management software.

And, for the landlord, it is a good time to explain to the tenant all of their responsibilities. These responsibilities can be things like changing the batteries in the carbon monoxide detectors, keeping areas of the rental unit clean, or explaining where to send the month's rent. This is also the perfect time to explain to the tenant anything about the first month's rent or the security deposit.

Another benefit of completing the checklist together is that it minimizes the risk of dispute when the tenant is moving out. By doing the list together, both parties know about everything on the property and it cannot be argued. To protect this even further, it is always advised that the tenant also sign the checklist after it is finished.

Identifying the Difference Between Normal Wear and Tear and Damages

Next up, and possibly the most important, is making sure to differentiate between normal wear and tear and actual damages. This is extremely important because it could cause a lot of trouble between the landlord and the tenant.

There are many places within the household that suffer from normal wear and tear. Some of these places include carpets, stairs, blinds, or bathroom tiles. However, if any of these places, or any other place in the household, has damage that can be classified as past normal wear, it should be reported to the tenant and potentially taken out of the security deposit.

However, always remember to refer to the landlord-tenant laws in your area to make sure that everything you are doing is in compliance with the law.

So, now that we know how to prepare for the landlord-tenant checklist, let's find out what to include in an ultimate landlord-tenant checklist.

Documenting All Issues

Another very important thing to do at all times is to document all of the issues in the property. This means taking pictures or videos of any issue you see with the property after the tenant moves out.

This step is important because it helps in ensuring a fair process with the tenant in terms of the state of the property. The notes and media that are used here can also be used in court to assist your case if the tenant decides to dispute any claims.

If you are not sure about what you should be checking or inspecting, we got you covered. Check out DoorLoop's Resources Page to gain access to a free Rental Inspection Checklist.

Follow All Laws

Finally, it is extremely important to make sure that throughout everything that you do with the tenant, you are following all the laws. This means following all of the state's laws as well as the local laws.

If the laws are not followed closely, the whole process can end in a hefty lawsuit. This conclusion is obviously not favorable for any of the parties and should be avoided at all costs. One of the best ways to achieve this is by having documentation of all your state's landlord-tenant laws.

Not sure where to find these?

No worries. Check our DoorLoop's Laws Page to learn about all the state laws that you should consider.

David Bitton

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!