Don’t Just Hand Them The Keys, Use A Tenant Move In Process

2 min read
Kevin Perk

Kevin Perk is a full-time buy and hold and fix and flip real estate investor with over 15 years of experience. He and his wife Terron operate Kevron Properties, LLC, a boutique real estate investing company in Memphis, Tenn.

Kevin was a past president and is a current board member of the Memphis Investors Group. He’s also a blogger and writer who has authored hundreds of real estate investing articles on BiggerPockets and his own blog,, some of which have been featured on The Motley Fool and MONEY: Personal Finance News & Advice.

Kevin is also host of the SmarterLandlording podcast.

Originally from the Washington D.C. area, Kevin moved to Memphis to attend graduate school at The University of Memphis. After receiving his master’s degree in City and Regional Planning, Kevin climbed the planning career ladder to eventually become planning director of a county in the Memphis metro area. He “retired” from planning in 2003 to pursue real estate investing full-time.

Since “retiring,” Kevin’s main real estate investment strategy has been to buy and hold, otherwise known as landlording. Generally working in historic Midtown Memphis, Kevin is also known to fix and flip grand, historic homes when the right opportunity presents itself. He and his wife Terron (who is the principal broker at Perk Realty) have participated in dozens of real estate transactions in the Memphis metro area.

Kevin has the heart of a teacher and believes in helping others through education. An instructor of college-level geography for over 25 years, Kevin also regularly participates in seminars and panel discussions at such forums as the Memphis Investor’s Group and the Single-Family Rental Summit.

In addition, Kevin has been interviewed in publications such as the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Memphis Daily News, and the Foreclosure News Report.

Kevin earned a master’s in City and Regional Planning from The University of Memphis.

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Your property is move in ready.  You have shown it to several potential tenants.  You have screened your applicants and selected the person that best fits your criteria.  Now all you need to do is give them the keys and let them move in right?  Wrong.  Now is the time for the tenant move-in process which is almost as important as the tenant screening process.  The move in process is the time you get everything in writing, set out the ground rules and lay the groundwork to get your property back in great condition.

Here are four things to do before giving your tenant the keys.

  1. Read the tenant the lease and house rules, word for word.  Ask you new tenant to set aside about an hour to attend a lease signing meeting. Ideally you would have a private office to conduct this meeting but any quite location will do.  During this meeting, read them the lease and the house rules word for word and have them initial and sign the more important clauses.  Some have even gone to interactive computer/videos here, but we are not quite that advanced yet.
  2. Give them a move-in/move-out checklist.  Such a checklist will show the date the tenant moved in and have spaces for the tenant to note any damages or other issues with the property that they notice upon their move in.  Ideally, this checklist will have several carbon copies so the tenant can keep one and return the remainder to you after move in.  You can then use that same checklist when they move out to check for further damages that may have been caused by the tenant.
  3. Provide them with a repair cost list.  Give your new tenant a list of charges that could be deducted from their security deposit when they move out.  Leave a burned out light bulb, that is a $10 charge.  Leave some spoons and forks in the kitchen drawer, another $10.  Mini-blind replacements run $20 each.  Major repairs are billed at cost of materials and labor.  The idea here is to get them thinking at the very beginning to treat your property with respect since they know they will be charged later on if they do not.  Your goal is to get the property back in as close to rent ready condition as possible.  Give them the same list again when they provide notice they are moving.
  4. Make a video of the property.  Smart phones are ubiquitous these days, use yours to make a video of the property with the tenant there upon move in if possible.  You can use this video later on to show the condition of the property upon move in.  Nothing speaks volumes or settles disputes better than a video.

The point of these four procedures is to protect your valuable assets by setting the tone with your tenants from the very beginning.  Show them that you are a respectable landlord, that runs their business well and that you expect them to treat your property as if it was their own.  Doing some work on the front end at move in can really save you some time and money on the back end after move out.

Photo: Josa Júnior

Your property is move in ready.  You have shown it to several potential tenants.  You have screened your applicants and selected the person that best fits your criteria.  Now all […]