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

Kevin Perk
2 min read

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

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