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Finding a new tenant to occupy your rental property is an exciting moment.

After searching through potential renters, you have found the perfect one and have signed the lease agreement.

And finally... the tenant moves in.

Before finalizing the transition, however, landlords must complete what is called a rental property checklist.

Completing this checklist with your tenant has many benefits for the landlord and the tenant. It may also be required by law in some circumstances.

If you are not sure about what a rental property checklist is, or what to include in one, we got that covered.

In this guide, we will be going over everything that you need to know about the move-in checklist. We will also be providing a template for your very own checklist.

To get started, let's go over what the rental inspection checklist is and what it is used for.

What is a Rental Property Checklist?

When a tenant is moving into one of your rental properties, it is important that you conduct a thorough rental walkthrough checklist. The purpose of the rental checklist is to inspect the property before the tenant moves in to pinpoint any existing issues.

Although it is possible to conduct this inspection online, or before the move-in date, it is vital that it be done with the tenant. This is because the tenant can serve as a witness that you are writing accurate observations. This is important because when the tenant is about to move out, the landlord will conduct a move-out inspection.

The move-out checklist serves to compare the property to how it was when the tenant moved in and is conducted on the move-out date. If the differences between both checklists reach beyond normal wear and tear, the tenant's security deposit can be affected.

For this reason, it is extremely important that the inspections are taken seriously and that they follow any local landlord-tenant laws. These local and state laws may dictate the necessity of any inspections, as well as some other responsibilities for the property manager.

Before putting away the signed checklist, however, you want to make sure that you have gone through the complete process.

If you are not sure about what this process consists of, you've come to the right place. In the next section, we will be going over some of the steps involved in correctly using a rental checklist.

Rental Property Checklist

How to Correctly Use a Rental Checklist

In order to use a rental property checklist correctly and effectively conduct inspections, it is important that you follow some basic steps. After outlining the process of using the checklist, we will then go over some of the most important things to include in your checklist.

So, let's begin with the process with the first step that is done before the move-in date.

Pre-Inspect the Property

The rental unit that you are renting out should be inspected regularly regardless of tenants moving in or out. These inspections are meant to report maintenance issues that already exist before the tenant even moves in.

This part of the process is essential because landlords want to make sure that their property is not in bad shape for when prospective tenants come along. This way, you do not need to worry much about the condition of the property when the tenant occupies it.

Although it may be easy for many landlords to leave a vacant property alone for some time, it helps to maintain it as much as possible. Another benefit is that, at the time of the move-in inspection, the tenant will have a good impression of the landlord.

Provide the Checklist Beforehand

This simple task can help landlords and new tenants save a ton of time when it comes to inspections. A couple of days before actually conducting the inspection, be sure to provide the tenant with the checklist that you will be using. By doing this, you are making sure that you and the tenant are on the same page throughout the whole thing.

In turn, this would save you and the tenant a lot of time throughout the inspection. It allows you to work together, instead of against each other, and form a closer relationship with the tenant.

Completing the Checklist Together

Completing the rental property checklist together has benefits for both the tenant and the landlord.

For the tenant, it can be seen as an opportunity to ask any pressing questions about any issues on the property. They can also make sure that they are satisfied with the condition of the rental property at the time of moving in.

For the landlord, this can be seen as a time to give the tenant a rundown of all of their responsibilities. These responsibilities include things like submitting maintenance requests, sending rent payments, and keeping the home in good condition. A good thing to make sure to explain is how the tenant will pay rent. If there is some special software or third-party app that the landlord prefers, this is where they will specify it.

Another benefit of completing the checklist together with the tenant is that it can minimize the risk of a dispute when the tenant is moving out. This is because, as mentioned before, when the tenant is moving out, a move-out inspection is performed. In this move-out inspection, if there are damages that surpass normal wear and tear, the tenant can be held liable.

Taking Note of Wear and Tear

This step ties in with the previous step, but it is extremely important and must always be considered. On a property, there is always going to be normal wear and tear in many places.

This wear and tear can include things like slight discoloring of fabrics or fading of finishing in tiles. However, normal wear and tear does not include larger things that require more significant repairs. Things that require larger repairs can include a broken faucet, damaged furniture, or a chewed-up carpet.

It is important to factor in wear and tear when conducting the final inspection as you always want to be fair to the tenants.

Documenting Any Issue

One of the best, and only, ways to prove that your tenant has damaged the property past the point of regular wear and tear is by documenting the damage with photos and videos. This documentation can help supplement the notes that are taken on the rental property checklist to make sure that the tenant was not treated unfairly.

Now that we know about the entire process of conducting these inspections, let's get into all of the things that should be included in any checklist.

What to Include in Your Rental Property Checklist

After figuring out the entire process of conducting the inspection, it is important that you determine what to actually inspect. This part is crucial because you want to make sure that you are being as thorough as possible and checking many things.

In this section, you want to add as many places on the property as you can. We have broken up the list by each kind of room. Let's begin with the part of the property that is seen first, the entrance.

Entrance

Since the entrance is the spot on the property that gets the most exposure, it is important that it stays clean and tidy. Some of the things that should be inspected within the entrance include:

  • Doors and locks
  • Screen doors
  • Patio furniture
  • Windows
  • Ceilings
  • Light fixtures

All of these are very common to find in entryways and should definitely be checked out with inspections.

Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the places with the most space for damage. Since there is a high chance of there being damage, it must be inspected very thoroughly.

Some of the things that should be inspected within the kitchen include:

  • Cabinets/Drawers
  • Ceilings
  • Counters
  • Appliances
  • Flooring
  • Lighting
  • Walls
  • Windows

Also, since the kitchen releases more smoke than any other section of the house, you should also remember to inspect:

  • Smoke detectors
  • CO2 detectors
  • Stove/Oven
  • Water heater
  • HVAC system

Living Room

The living room, just like the entrance, is one of the places with the most exposure. This means that it must also be very closely inspected in the rental property checklist.

Some of the things in the living room that must be inspected include:

  • Ceiling
  • Furniture
  • Electrical outlets
  • Fireplace
  • Lighting
  • Walls
  • Windows
  • Curtains and blinds
  • Flooring

Dining Room

Very similar to the living room, the dining room has a few key aspects that should definitely be inspected with every inspection. These include:

  • Ceiling
  • Electrical outlets
  • Lighting
  • Flooring
  • Walls
  • Furniture

Bedrooms

If you have multiple bedrooms, the same inspection can be conducted in each one. Some of the things to be sure to check in the bedrooms include:

  • Closets
  • Ceiling
  • Walls
  • Flooring
  • Furniture
  • Mirrors

Bathrooms

The bathrooms are one of the places that suffer the most wear and tear. In order to make sure that they are in good shape, make sure to inspect:

  • Cabinets/Drawers
  • Ceiling
  • Counters
  • Doors and locks
  • Plumbing
  • Shower
  • Mirrors
  • Walls

Garage

Although not all properties have a garage, it is important to inspect it if it does exist. The things to inspect include:

  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Electrical outlets
  • Garage door

Miscellaneous

Depending on the property, there can be other things that must be inspected. These may include:

  • Attics
  • Basements
  • Decks, patios, balconies
  • Stairs
  • Yards
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Storage

There are also some other things that each landlord may also come up with that are specific to the property.

Template

Interested in getting your hands on your very own template? Download the rental property inspection checklist or browse all our resources.

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!