Move-In Inspection Checklist - streamlining the process. What do you do?

15 Replies

When moving a tenant in, it is easy to skimp with the move-in inspection check list (or "Property Condition Report", as we call it) yet it is a critical document. I'm looking to improve my process for getting this done efficiently.

Here are some of my ideas for stream lining the process. What are yours?

1. Put "C & F = clean & functional" at the top of the form. I then put C & F on every line as I check the unit before move-in day.

2. Note known deficiencies on the form ahead of time. If you are the one who does the "make ready" on the unit, then you will know the unit flaws. Look at the previous tenant documents for things you may have missed.

3. Repair or replace items in need and keep a record of the date that was done. On the form, I will write things like "new carpet 2012". If it is in the current year, I note the month, as "new refrigerator 5/2014". If something is older than a few years, I just keep those dates in my purchase/maintenance records.

4. I might use ebay type descriptions for noting condition, such as: new, like new, excellent, good, fair, worn, dime size, nickel size, quarter size, inches/cm, scratch, chip, dent, tear, stain, broken, bent.

5. Photograph condition of unit.

6. Obtain all tenant signatures before handing over the keys. Ask the tenant to let you know within 72 hours if they find any other problems with the unit that they would like noted. It is not uncommon to miss something significant during the hustle and bustle of getting a unit ready or on move-in day. You can decide if you want to amend the record later.

7. Put a note in the tenant file if you do an upgrade, repair or replace something during tenancy. This will supplement the original move-in condition record.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Great topic.

Would also like to see how granular everyone's check list is.

Do you list everything and put a condition/status next to it? Or do you only list items with pre-existing issues to keep the list short?

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :

When moving a tenant in, it is easy to skimp with the move-in inspection check list (or "Property Condition Report", as we call it) yet it is a critical document. I'm looking to improve my process for getting this done efficiently.

Here are some of my ideas for stream lining the process. What are yours?

1. Put "C & F = clean & functional" at the top of the form. I then put C & F on every line as I check the unit before move-in day.

2. Note known deficiencies on the form ahead of time. If you are the one who does the "make ready" on the unit, then you will know the unit flaws. Look at the previous tenant documents for things you may have missed.

3. Repair or replace items in need and keep a record of the date that was done. On the form, I will write things like "new carpet 2012". If it is in the current year, I note the month, as "new refrigerator 5/2014". If something is older than a few years, I just keep those dates in my purchase/maintenance records.

4. I might use ebay type descriptions for noting condition, such as: new, like new, excellent, good, fair, worn, dime size, nickel size, quarter size, inches/cm, scratch, chip, dent, tear, stain, broken, bent.

5. Photograph condition of unit.

6. Obtain all tenant signatures before handing over the keys. Ask the tenant to let you know within 72 hours if they find any other problems with the unit that they would like noted. It is not uncommon to miss something significant during the hustle and bustle of getting a unit ready or on move-in day. You can decide if you want to amend the record later.

7. Put a note in the tenant file if you do an upgrade, repair or replace something during tenancy. This will supplement the original move-in condition record.

Marcia,

We have also been trying to figure out ways to improve this process. What we've been doing (which isn't the best) is to record our own data including photos and videos. It can be very time consuming. We then give a blank move-in condition report to our tenants which we have them fill out and return within 30-days - which I think is too long. Most of our tenants do a good job, but now and then we receive the report back with vague information that doesn't indicate exactly where the issue is, how big, etc. General statements without the number, size, location, etc, could mean anything and makes it impossible to distinguish between what existed and what happens during their tenancy. That would mean we would need to record all areas of the house, both clean and undamaged areas in order to dispute what they might indicate already existed.

If I understand your process correctly, you are providing the tenant a copy of the move-in condition report that you have filled out, have them sign it, then give them 72 hours to add any additional items. Is that correct? Seems like a lot better process.

It's always a big rush for us cleaning up and making repairs from the last tenant and documenting that for the return of their security deposit, then recording the condition of the unit prior to the new tenant moving in. We try to get repairs done while the previous tenant is still there but some things have to be done after they have moved out. There are times when we have just hours between tenants, but we like to get at least a few days unless we have a big project such as replacing flooring, repainting, or other larger projects.

Our rentals are B+ areas, so our method have been to provide the incoming tenants an email providing them access to the house (hide-a-key location and/or keyless entry code) without the need to meet them there at a specific time. With a full time job and the units 20-30 minutes away, it has made it easier. However, if we're going to get signatures on the move-in report, I think we'll have to actually meet them there when they move in - which could be challenging at times.

How has your systems been working so far? Any changes or additions to the list of items you have provided? I wonder if anyone else reading this has other ideas to improve the process.

Originally posted by @Sam Leon :

Great topic.

Would also like to see how granular everyone's check list is.

Do you list everything and put a condition/status next to it? Or do you only list items with pre-existing issues to keep the list short?

In the past I only listed the items that were flawed. However, now I include things like "All Screens - no tears" and "All Windows - no broken glass" and "All Countertops - no scratches" and "All Carpet - no stains" to make it very clear.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

I'm already familiar with the status of the unit.  So, they get a move in inspection list that covers everything in every room.  They document anything they feel is damaged or not functioning and scan/email it to me or I pick it up within five days.  

Originally posted by @Gerald K. :

If I understand your process correctly, you are providing the tenant a copy of the move-in condition report that you have filled out, have them sign it, then give them 72 hours to add any additional items. Is that correct? Seems like a lot better process.

How has your systems been working so far? Any changes or additions to the list of items you have provided? I wonder if anyone else reading this has other ideas to improve the process.

I'm impressed by your quick turnarounds! Thanks for reviving this thread! 

To answer your questions... Yes, I do try to fill out the move in checklist ahead of time and have the tenant sign it on the day of move-in. Then I give them 72 hours (3 days) to amend it. Sometimes I give them more time if my schedule doesn't allow me to meet with them again soon enough. 

Our last tenant who moved in wasn't feeling well on move-in day and even was hospitalized the next day for a week, with pneumonia. He is elderly and when he arrived back home, he was on oxygen for awhile and not up to doing much. Needless to say we never completed the move in checklist and now three months later it still hasn't been finished! Time marches on and I am in the middle of another turnover now and pressed for time. So, it isn't always easy to get things done, even with the best of plans!

Periodically, I review all of the tenant files to make sure I didn't miss filing something that should be in there. I know of some landlords who have a checklist for what needs to be in the file, so as not to miss something, including the move-in checklist.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

@Marcia Maynard  Thanks for the response.

 I know what you mean. Every situation is a little different, so circumstances do make things vary from time to time no matter how well you prepare and plan in advance. 

We may end up with some kind of pre-prepared move-in checklist of the significant items we're aware of and provide that to the tenant to update. The eBay type severity is also a good idea. When we receive a checklist that says many stains on the carpet but doesn't indicate where, how severe, how large, or any distinguishing characteristics, it's not very useful.  We may add a statement to our move-in checklist: "please indicate specifics such as location, number, size, color and other distinguishing characteristics. Vague statements such as stains on carpet without those specifics make it impossible to separate from damage after move-in and therefore cannot be used."

Do you find you need to get clarification from the tenants on the what they put on the move-in condition report? If you are there with them it's a lot easier to explain what you want and get the detail on the spot. Obviously, your pre-filled out move-in inspection will eliminate a lot of the work involved for the tenants and limit the number of vague statements on the report.

Originally posted by @Gerald K. :

@Marcia Maynard Thanks for the response.

Do you find you need to get clarification from the tenants on the what they put on the move-in condition report? If you are there with them it's a lot easier to explain what you want and get the detail on the spot. Obviously, your pre-filled out move-in inspection will eliminate a lot of the work involved for the tenants and limit the number of vague statements on the report.

At the start of tenancy, we both sign and date the Move-In Inspection Checklist or "Property Condition Report", as we call it. I keep the original and make a copy for the tenant. Then they can add to it if they wish within the 72 hours. Then I go to the property to look at what other damages they found before signing off on them. If I agree with their findings and how they describe them, I add them to my copy (which is actually the original) and we make another copy of the updated document for the tenant. If they were too vague in their description, I improve the description before adding it to the original document. It is also in my handwriting which is quite legible and large enough to be read after it is copied on the machine.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Thanks Marcia,

I like how you are in more control of the process. More work but definitely eliminates the problems we sometimes have. Thank you!

Great topic everyone!  Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  Can someone please share copies of what they use for this checklist?  The more comprehensive, the better.

Thanks!

I have my PMs take before photos on movein and they each have their own move-in checklists that the tenants sign off.  Honestly I'm thinking about having them use a standard form I provide.

I do don't do this yet, but I'm also thinking about two checklists, one for the PM and one for the tenant.  I have certain standards I would like to see prior to showing the unit.  

Does anyone do this with the property managers?

I modify our Property Condition Report to match the characteristics of each type of property. Happy to share if you send me a private message or maybe I'll upload it to the BP "resources/file place/other documents" section. If you google "move in checklist" you will find many examples on the web.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Most of you don't do furnished rentals but we  do.  We include an inventory with condition on the property.  For furnished it is important to have pictures and the inventory. It does not go in the move in checklist but is emailed to them prior to move in and in an onsite binder.    The inventory lists condition on all important items. The biggest problems I have had is over missing items. If something is provided that needs to work like a TV or  DVD mark it as functioning.  It is just too much to have all that on a checklist.

For all units I also note newly refinished on floors that are redone and no scratches on appliances.

I already know what's wrong with the property if anything.  So, at lease signing I hand them the move in checklist and tell them to fill it out within 5 days.  I tell the tenants I will pick it up, or they can scan and email it to me.  If they do that, I print, sign, scan, and email back.  

Does anyone have an example of an inspection report that they use?