A Move-in Checklist is an essential document that can help generate more consistent rental revenue from satisfied tenants, maintain a rental property in excellent condition, and reduce the likelihood of tenant disputes if the security deposit is used to cover tenant-caused damage.

Depending on local laws, landlords may be required to conduct a rental property inspection before tenants move in and after they move out.

An Inspection Checklist Addendum is a vital document used to identify damage to a property beyond normal wear and tear.

What Is a Move-in Checklist?

When a tenant moves in and occupies the rental property, the landlord and tenant use a move-in checklist to document the state of the property and its hardware or appliances.

A move-in inspection checklist is an essential document for both the landlord and the tenant. While the landlord stands to gain the most from implementing such a checklist, tenants will also benefit from knowing and understanding the status of the home or apartment before moving in.

If you find significant damage to the property or a tenant files a complaint about the deduction of their security deposit, this document will assist you in proving your case in court.

A move-in checklist may also be called one of the following, depending on the local real estate market and traditions:

  • Move-in Inspection Checklist
  • Inspection Checklist
  • Rental Inspection Checklist
  • Apartment Move-in Checklist

For the easiest and best results, we recommend filling out two documents, a move-in, and move-out inspection checklist.

Related: Property Management Checklist: Top Main Lists Successful Landlords Should Have

How to Fill Out a Move-in Checklist?

Rooms should be separate on the move-in checklist. The checklist for each room comprises the space's most common elements. The kitchen checklist, for example, includes appliances such as the refrigerator and dishwasher or hardware like cabinets and sinks. 

We recommend including the following rooms in the checklist:

  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Kitchen
  • Primary Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Guest Bathroom
  • Miscellaneous (basement, parking, storage, apartment door, etc.)

Leave some space at the bottom of the checklist for any extra information and tailor this list to fit your property and its spaces.

Because so many steps are involved in filling a vacant rental property, it's easy to overlook minor details during the inspection. Use the shorthand in the key below to note any concerns, such as the condition of the carpet, damaged bathroom tiles, or wall markings.

Common Abbreviations and keywords:

  • NC Needs Cleaning
  • NSC Needs Spot Cleaning
  • NP Needs Painting
  • NSP Needs Spot Painting
  • NR Needs Repair
  • PR Needs Replacing

The landlord and tenant must both sign the paper after completing the checklist. If any damage necessitates withholding the security deposit, having a signed checklist will help avoid problems down the road.

TenantCloud provides an Inspection Checklist Addendum to assist property owners and tenants with every detail for an upcoming or ongoing tenancy. 

Related: Tenant Move In Checklist: Useful Tips You Should Know

In What States Landlords Must Provide Move-in Checklists?

Seventeen states have laws mandating some form of a move-in checklist, with other states only requiring it if a security deposit is taken.

  1. Arizona
  2. Georgia
  3. Hawaii
  4. Kansas
  5. Kentucky
  6. Maryland
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Michigan
  9. Montana
  10. Nevada
  11. New Hampshire
  12. North Dakota
  13. Oregon (Portland ONLY)
  14. Utah
  15. Virginia
  16. Washington
  17. Wisconsin

Property Owner Tips for Using a Move-in Checklist

Here are some recommended practices for using a move-in checklist that landlords should consider:

  1. Clean and examine the rental property before tenants move in.
  2. Schedule service professionals to address any necessary repairs.
  3. Boost security by re-keying all locks, ensuring your new tenant's safety.
  4. Document the property’s condition by taking photos and videos before the renter moves in.
  5. Complete the move-in checklist with the renter, defining the distinction between reasonable wear and tear and severe damage.
  6. Review the lease's terms and conditions with the renter to help prevent any misunderstanding.
  7. Specify which conditions may lead to a security deposit being withheld.

Final thoughts

Having time-stamped images on hand will assist landlords in ensuring that any disagreements are solved and supported by evidence. The move-in checklist is an excellent method for a new landlord-tenant relationship because it protects both parties ahead of time.