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Move In - Move Out Checklist (Part 1)

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA

A vital part of reducing cost when managing a rental property is limiting the expenses associated with tenant turnover. Tenant turnover usually requires the rental property to be professionally cleaned, painted or touched up, and carpets cleaned or replaced. In order for you to know what expenses to absorb and what expenses to charge back to the tenant, you should always know the current condition of the property as well as the condition in which the property was given to the tenant.

To accomplish this, each tenant should be provided with a written “Move-In/Move-Out” checklist. The “Move-In/Move-Out” checklist allows both parties to identify in writing the initial “Move-In” condition and the final “Move-out” condition of the property. These checklists will eliminate any misunderstandings regarding which party will pay for non-normal wear and tear repairs throughout the tenancy and upon move out. Prior to giving the keys to the tenant the owner should completely inspect the property and document the existing condition on the “Move-In” side of the checklist. It is necessary to document the condition of the appliances, windows, screens, blinds, doors, walls, lighting, flooring, a/c, heating, toilets, faucets, ceiling fans, and any other necessary interior and exterior areas. During the initial walk-through with the tenants, it is important to review the findings with the tenant and have the tenant sign and date the document.

The use of a digital camera or video camera is also recommended upon both “Move-in” and “Move-out” to capture images of the property if the condition is challenged at a later time. The “Move-In” checklist also helps to avoid the common “It was that way when we moved in” argument. Additionally, if the tenant requests a repair that is outside the scope of normal wear and tear it can be referenced against the “Move-in” checklist and you reserve the right to advise the tenant that the repair will be at their expense. The usage of these lists are for the protection of both parties and should be taken seriously; it will protect the tenant from unnecessary security deposit deductions and protect the owner from costly damages to the property. Having the proper written documentation regarding the “Move-In” condition of your property will help offset unnecessary cost associated with rental turnover. It will also send a message to the tenants that you are serious about maintaining the condition of your property and expect it to be returned in the same condition as it was received. The “Move-In” checklist is also an incentive for the tenant and can offer peace of mind knowing that if they maintain the property they will receive the majority if not all of their security deposit back when they move out. It is a win-win for both parties and is strongly suggested to avoid unnecessary headaches and cost.

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Excellent article. I took over a property about a year ago and have had 3 move-outs where I found the refrigerator crisper pans missing. They cost between $40-$60 each. If I had taken a photo of the inside of the refrigerator at move-in, there would be no argument over whether they were there or not.

  Sandy Martin

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