If tenants vacate the rental property quickly, landlords can prepare to screen potential tenants or begin to advertise their units to keep their lease business running.

Therefore, a tenant move-out checklist has become an essential resource for property owners who want to make this process easier after both parties decide not to renew the lease agreement.

Essentially, a moving-out checklist allows landlords to know if their property is ready for the new lessee. In other words, it includes an inspection to see if the unit is in good condition and helps them identify necessary repairs to determine if they should return the tenant's security deposit.

Do you want to know more about why you need a tenant move-out checklist and how it can protect your rental investment or help you save time? Read on to find valuable information!

Key Takeaways

  • A tenant move-out checklist can minimize potential security deposit disputes between landlords and tenants.
  • It documents the rental property's condition after the tenant moves.
  • Landlords can use a tenant move-out checklist to identify any potential damage to the property that the tenant or their guests may have caused.
  • Some property owners use the tenant move-out checklist as a cleaning guide for tenants.
  • It's also used as a room-by-room guide for lessees planning to vacate a property.
  • A tenant move-out checklist allows a lessee to understand the condition the property must be in when they leave in order to recover the security deposit.
  • It could be customized to include specific information.
  • This checklist details property-specific features, including whether there's a swimming pool or landlords provided appliances.

What Is a Tenant Move-Out Checklist?

As mentioned, it's a checklist with items that allow both parties to document a rental unit's conditions when the tenant moves out.

Landlords can use this guide to inform tenants about what they should do when vacating a property. It also helps lessees know their responsibilities when moving out of a unit, such as whether they need to move trash containers to specific points so they're pickup by the garbage truck or when they need to return keys.

In addition, some property owners include a move-out checklist in the original lease agreement. In this case, both the landlord and the lessee must comply with such instructions.

Essentially, landlords use this checklist as they conduct an inspection to know the property's conditions or document any changes or damage after the move-out date.

Moreover, a move-out checklist is often compared to the move-in inspection, so landlords can deduct any repairs from the security deposit tenants paid when they signed the original lease.

Why Do Landlords Need a Move-out Inspection Checklist?

Besides being essential to know the property's conditions, a move-out allows landlords to hold tenants accountable for any damage caused to the rental unit.

Rental property owners also use this checklist as a standardized move-out inspection process to ensure that all tenants are treated fairly.

Why Is a Move-Out Checklist Important?

Overall, these are the reasons landlords should use a move-out checklist when inspecting a rental property after tenants leave:

  • It helps them determine if they should use part of the security deposit to pay for repairs or cleaning fees, as it identifies potential damage.
  • This itemized list also documents pre-existing damages on the property when the tenant moved in that landlords should compare with their move-out inspection.
  • It provides landlords with a better idea about the property's conditions to know if they can offer it to a new tenant.
  • This checklist makes the process of looking for a new tenant easier, faster, and more cost-effective.
  • It allows landlords to know how many repairs they need to make and calculate the costs to be deducted from the refundable security deposit.
  • This document identifies all damages that may go beyond normal wear and tear.
  • It could be key to proving that the previous tenant didn't comply with the conditions set out in the original lease agreement.

What Should Landlords Include on the Move-Out Checklist?

what should landlords include in the move out checklist

A comprehensive move-out checklist should include all the spaces that landlords must check when the tenant leaves to determine if the rental property is in good condition.

Here are some recommendations to help property owners make a good move-out checklist:

Every Room and Outdoor Space Should Be Listed

This checklist must include all the spaces in the property, such as studios or bedrooms. Landlords should list all rooms and outdoor areas to document any potential repairs or damage and make the inspection easier.

Landlords Should Divide Spaces' Features into Categories

Each room and space has features that landlords must inspect, including some that are identical.

Therefore, property owners must list all these items to make sure they inspect each one of them when the tenant moves out.

A move-out checklist should include spaces' features divided into these categories, for example:

  • Doors
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Floors
  • Windows and window treatments
  • Electrical outlets
  • Light fixtures
  • Locks
  • Smoke detectors
  • Carbon monoxide detectors

However, each state may have different requirements on the items that must be considered in a rental agreement. Therefore, it's also essential to know the related local laws.

The Checklist Must Include Unique Features

Besides listing the identical features in each space, landlords must also document each room's unique elements.

These features can include whether the room has a fireplace, for example. The number of closets per space or whether the kitchen has different appliances (dishwasher, countertops, stovetop, and oven) can also be considered unique elements.

Property owners should list all these items under each room's checklist and clarify if tenants should clean them or repair them if they get damaged while they live there.

Additional Items and Features

In addition to the items listed above, landlords should consider miscellaneous items that they should check during the move-out inspection, including the following:

  • Unknown odors: Unidentified odors on the property may be counted as excessive damage, so landlords can deduct cleaning fees from the security deposit or determine if tenants violated the original lease.
  • Keys: Tenants must return all the keys to landlords during the move-out process. Therefore, the checklist must also include all the keys and copies that owners gave to the lessees, including lobby and mailbox keys.
  • Utilities: New tenants must transfer utilities to their name. Therefore, landlords should also remind current lessees they should remove their names from electricity, heat, water, and gas services.
  • Alarm codes: Landlords must also verify that alarm codes are changed immediately after a tenant leaves the property if it has alarm systems.

Common Mistakes Landlords Should Avoid When Conducting a Move-Out Inspection

common mistakes landlords make with move out inspections

Both landlords and tenants can benefit from move-out checklists for different reasons, including the ones listed above.

However, property owners should avoid some common mistakes that could affect both their current agreement and future contracts. These are:

Poor Communication

Landlords must maintain good communication with tenants during the move-out process. Actually, a common mistake that property owners make is failing to communicate with tenants.

As lessees are busy packing up their belongings to vacate the property, the process can be complicated for them. Therefore, landlords should schedule the walk-through inspection ahead to make sure both parties are on the same page and discuss all important issues.

Incomplete Information

As mentioned, a move-out checklist should be comprehensive and detailed. It's so important! Therefore, landlords must ensure that it includes all the elements and features they will inspect when the tenant vacates the property.

Furthermore, all instructions and descriptions in this checklist must be clear and easy to understand. It's also important to add photos to document the property's condition when the tenant moved in! It protects both parties from any potential dispute.

Premature Promises

Property owners should never promise tenants that they would get the full security deposit after the move-out inspection.

Determining if they should use a portion of the security deposit to cover repairs and costs for damages or cleaning issues is only possible after a thorough inspection.

Inaccurate Charges

A move-out checklist can be a landlord's evidence that they must pay fees to repair damages caused by tenants.

Failing to document these charges could affect the landlord. Therefore, they must calculate all repairs and cleaning fees and prove that the damages were caused by the tenant.

Final Thoughts - Make Sure Your Property Is Ready for the Next Tenant

A move-out checklist can help landlords see if the property is in excellent condition and ready to be occupied by new tenants.

This itemized list is essential for determining if there is damage beyond normal wear and tear after the tenant moves.

In addition, if compared to the move-in inspection, it helps property owners determine if the other party violated the conditions set in the original lease. In other words, it's a must for all landlords.

If you're one of them, Doorloop has got you covered! On our website, you can find a sample move-out checklist and other useful free forms that could make the job much easier if you want to offer your rental unit to the next tenant. Take a look at everything we have for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Benefits Of Using Tenant Move-out Checklist?

As mentioned, a move-out checklist can bring many benefits to all parties involved. The main advantage for tenants is that it lets them know what they can do to recover the full security deposit.

Furthermore, for landlords, it's essential if they want to reduce the costs and time to prepare a property for the next tenant. It's also a good way to determine how much security deposit they should use to cover damage repairs and related expenses.

Can Landlords Conduct an Inspection On the Rental Property Before the Move-Out Date?

Landlords generally conduct move-out inspections after the move-out date. However, both parties can schedule them ahead, so they're well-prepared.

Can a Move-In Inspection Affect How Much Security Deposit Landlords Should Refund Tenants?

Yes, of course! Landlords usually compare the move-out checklist with the move-in inspection and the original lease agreement to determine if there is damage to the property that involves repairs or other costs and if the tenant violated the conditions set in the original lease.

What Information Should the Move-Out Checklist Include?

In addition to the items the landlords must inspect, a move-out checklist must include the property address, move-in date, move-out date, tenant's name and signature, landlord's name and signature, and date when the document is signed.

Frequently Asked Quesitons

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!

Legal Disclaimer

The information on this website is from public sources, for informational purposes only and not intended for legal or accounting advice. DoorLoop does not guarantee its accuracy and is not liable for any damages or inaccuracies.