The Ultimate Move-In Checklist for Landlords

You put a lot of time, money, and effort into finding the right tenant. From writing a rental property listing to showing the property, the process can require a lot from you. But that’s OK. The end result is well worth it. 

With a tenant lined up and a move-in date scheduled, it’s time to take the next step: prepping the property. This move-in checklist for landlords will keep you on track from start to finish. 

Cleaning and Maintenance

Before your tenant moves in, thorough cleaning and maintenance guarantees that the property is in top condition.

Start with a deep clean, focusing on every nook and cranny. Scrub floors, walls, and surfaces; clean windows; and ensure appliances are spotless. Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms, as these areas can make a strong impression.

Next, address any maintenance issues. Check for and repair leaks, replace worn-out fixtures, and make sure that all systems, like HVAC and plumbing, are functioning properly. Don’t forget to test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms for safety.

Following these steps will help you create a welcoming, well-maintained home for your tenants.

Safety and Security Measures

Making the rental property safe and secure is crucial for both your peace of mind and your tenant’s well-being. Here are the steps you can take.

Provide new keys

Always change the locks and provide new keys to your tenants. This guarantees previous tenants or unknown individuals do not have access to the property, enhancing security from day one.

Test smoke detectors

Check that all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are functioning correctly. Replace batteries and test each device for proper operation. This step is vital for tenant safety and is often required by law.

Provide fire extinguishers

Equip the property with fire extinguishers, placing them in accessible locations such as the kitchen and near heating sources. Make sure your tenants know where they are and how to use them.

Check windows and doors

Inspect all windows and doors to make sure they lock securely and operate smoothly. This adds to the safety of the property and helps with energy efficiency.

Install adequate lighting

All areas, especially entrances and pathways, must have adequate lighting. Well-lit exteriors deter potential intruders and make tenants feel safer.

By taking these measures, you create a secure environment that protects your tenants and property. This proactive approach to safety and security helps build trust and satisfaction with your tenants.

Utilities and Amenities

Ensuring all utilities and amenities are in perfect working order is a key part of preparing your rental property for new tenants. 

Confirm utility setup

All utilities—electricity, water, gas, and internet—should be set up and functioning correctly. Verify that the accounts have been transferred to the new tenant’s name or are ready for transfer upon move-in.

Test appliances

Check all appliances. Test the stove, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, and dryer. Address any issues before the tenant moves in to avoid early complaints and inconvenience.

Inspect HVAC systems

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems should be in good working condition. Change filters, clean vents, and test the system to confirm it heats and cools effectively. Regular maintenance of HVAC systems can prevent future breakdowns.

Check water heaters and plumbing

Inspect the water heater for any signs of leaks or issues, and make sure it is heating water efficiently. Check all plumbing fixtures for leaks. Also, inspect sinks, toilets, and showers for proper draining.

Assess lighting and electrical systems

Verify that all light fixtures, switches, and outlets are working. Replace any burnt-out bulbs, and test circuit breakers to ensure the electrical system is safe and functional.

By thoroughly checking utilities and amenities, you provide a comfortable and functional living space for your tenants. This attention to detail helps establish a positive relationship and sets a high standard for property maintenance.

The Move-in Inspection

Conducting a move-in inspection is essential. Walk through the property with your tenant, documenting the condition of each room. This helps identify any preexisting issues and sets clear expectations. 

Tip: Both parties should sign off on the inspection report to prevent disputes about damages later.

Preparing a Tenant Welcome Package

A well-prepared tenant welcome package sets a positive tone for your tenant’s stay and provides essential information. Include the signed lease agreement and the move-in inspection report to clarify terms and document the property’s condition. Add your contact information for maintenance requests and emergencies.

Welcome letter

Write a friendly welcome letter to introduce yourself and express your commitment to your tenant’s comfort.

Local resource guide

Provide a local resource guide with information about nearby amenities, such as grocery stores, public transportation, and community services. This helps tenants acclimate to the neighborhood.

A comprehensive welcome package not only makes tenants feel valued, but also equips them with everything they need to settle in.

Communicating with the Tenant

Effective communication with tenants is key to a successful rental experience. This helps set expectations and fosters a positive relationship.

Set expectations

Clearly outline the move-in process and timeline so tenants know what to expect. Detail important steps, such as when they can collect keys and how to complete any required paperwork.

Share a timeline for move-in

Share a detailed timeline for the move-in process, including when inspections, cleanings, and any final preparations will occur. This keeps everyone on the same page and minimizes confusion.

Answer questions and address concerns

Be available to answer any questions, and address concerns promptly. Open communication reassures tenants and builds trust.

Establish a positive landlord-tenant relationship

Maintain a professional yet friendly demeanor. Regular check-ins, being approachable, and showing genuine interest in their satisfaction help cultivate a positive relationship.

By communicating effectively, you lay the groundwork for a smooth move-in and a harmonious tenancy, reducing potential conflicts and enhancing tenant satisfaction.

Move-in Day Logistics

Coordinating move-in day logistics is essential for a smooth transition for your tenant.

Schedule and coordinate the move-in

Coordinate with your tenant to schedule a convenient move-in date and time. This helps manage the flow of people in and out and avoids any scheduling conflicts.

Arrange for key pickup 

Organize a clear plan for key pickup or drop-off. Meet the tenant in person if possible, or arrange a secure location for key collection.

Conduct a walk-through with the tenant

Conduct a final walk-through with the tenant, reviewing the property condition and addressing any immediate concerns. This helps confirm that everything is in order and sets a positive tone.

Address last-minute issues or questions

Be available to handle any last-minute issues or answer questions. Your presence and responsiveness on move-in day demonstrate your commitment to tenant satisfaction.

Properly managing move-in day logistics creates a positive experience for your tenant, setting the stage for a successful rental relationship.

Final Thoughts

At a minimum, a move-in checklist for landlords should include these items. However, don’t be shy about altering your checklist to meet your specific needs and set yourself up for a good tenant-landlord relationship.

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

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