Giving tenants a move out checklist

8 Replies

I've noticed there are roughly three things that are a common issue when tenants move out. As such today I started sending emails about these items to tenants, starting with the tenant I have moving out now.

Carpet/Wall stains: I advise that they carpet clean or magic eraser any scuffs on walls because little kids inevitably dirty the walls and spill...

Utilities: I advise them to ensure they pay their closing payment for all utilities.

Trash: I advise them to ensure everything they came there with and in the garage, house, yard, shed, etc. is taken with them. I've spent hours cleaning out truck loads of crap people seem to always leave behind thinking I'm doing charity work for them.

I sent this out to a tenant today and got confirmation of a plan of action for all of the above from her. I plan on doing this with all my tenants from now on. I also plan on touching on damage vs. normal wear when people move in, as well as utilities for the same, because inevitably people always are slow to get it transferred and think I'm going to pay the bill for them out of the kindness of my heart....

Hell @Jack @Jack B. , what are you asking for in this post?  Are you looking for suggestions on other things to add in the list:

For us, if the property has carpets, upon moveout, they must produce a receipt showing carpets were professionally cleaned - no Rug Doctor rental hack cleanings.  

Our tenants are responsible for pest service,  We have a super deal with our pest guy.  $250 for service for the year.  $100 for initial service and $150 for the rest of the year.  Many times, we pay for the initial service and charge the tenant $150 and they manage the pests and calling the pest guy to arrange quarterly service.  After that, it's only $150 for each year since he is there consistently and things are under control.  So, part of the move out is that they show that in the last week of occupancy, the pest guy has been to the property.  If you have to make the call, there is an XXX charge for you doing it.  

Regarding utilities, if the utilities are currently in our name, I inform the tenants the day MY service is terminated.  If they don't want interruption of service, they better get on the phone.  

We have a move in/move out inspection report.  The section they sign when they are moving out, they are also declaring they understand that once this move out report is complete, they are also releasing the property to us and any property inside is considered abandoned (make sure you quote the specific state statutes regarding abandoned property) and the cost of it's removal is a cost bore by them.  Do you have a move in/move out inspection report.  Its simply a three column list of all the rooms and items within each room.  Column 1 is the item, Column two is condition upon move in and column 3 is condition upon move out.  Tenant initial the bottom of each page in the appropriate area.  The footer of the doc has tenant initials under both the move in and move out columns.  

Yard service.  The yard must be maintained prior to moving out.  Again, if this is not done, your yard service will do it and the cost is bore by them.  

Cleaning and trash, same thing.  They received the property in a move in clean condition; that is expected when they move out.  If not, it will be cleaned at a cost bore by them.  

Another management help is to not wait until they move out to fix some damages and charge them for the repairs right then. This way, they are not leaving the lease with so many things damaged, they don't bother doing the other necessary things because they know they already lost their damage deposit so screw it, just leave!

Gerald Demers

@Jack B. ., make sure you document everything with pics or video when they move in so you can refer to it during your move out inspection. I also do not do the final move out inspection until the tenant has left. I will do a preliminary one with the tenant so they know what items they will be expected to thoroughly clean such as oven, refrigerator, window sills, ceiling fans, etc. Their version of clean is often not the same as yours. If you've spent hours cleaning out debris and garbage left by previous tenants, I would improve your screening process. Good tenants know that leaving garbage in a place they rented will reflect poorly on their ability to get future housing. 

 I don't understand why a tenant would need to be reminded to pay their final utility bill. If it is in their name when they transfer it you can have it reverted to the owner if requested. Usually, tenants will just transfer the account to their new address. For move-ins, I tell them the date we will have the utilities such as electric, gas and water out of our name. @Gerald Demers had some great suggestions for you, and being part owner of a pest control company, Gerald, that is a screaming good deal you have there!

Originally posted by @Penny Clark :

@Jack B.., make sure you document everything with pics or video when they move in so you can refer to it during your move out inspection. I also do not do the final move out inspection until the tenant has left. I will do a preliminary one with the tenant so they know what items they will be expected to thoroughly clean such as oven, refrigerator, window sills, ceiling fans, etc. Their version of clean is often not the same as yours. If you've spent hours cleaning out debris and garbage left by previous tenants, I would improve your screening process. Good tenants know that leaving garbage in a place they rented will reflect poorly on their ability to get future housing. 

 I don't understand why a tenant would need to be reminded to pay their final utility bill. If it is in their name when they transfer it you can have it reverted to the owner if requested. Usually, tenants will just transfer the account to their new address. For move-ins, I tell them the date we will have the utilities such as electric, gas and water out of our name. @Gerald Demers had some great suggestions for you, and being part owner of a pest control company, Gerald, that is a screaming good deal you have there!

 Right, except that only works if they are moving within the same town. Garbage, water, electricity, etc. are not state or national services...Almost all my tenants move to another town or come from another town in the area. The one in question above is moving to Texas...

As far as leaving crap behind making it harder for them to get future housing, this is also a logical fallacy. Usually when they move out they've already secured a place to live and have been given a reference...

I do agree on the move out inspection though...

@Jack B. , If they are moving into your rental from out of state, then of course, they wouldn't have the same utility company. If that's the case, provide them the name and contact number of the utility companies to notify to set up their new accounts. Inform them when you intend to shut off services in your name so they can coordinate the transfer. If they drop the ball on this one, it's their problem, not yours. We have had tenants who have done this when they are transferring jobs from another state. 

If they are leaving a lot of junk behind for you to clean up, then check the laws in your state to see if you can deduct the cost of clean up from the security deposit to have the items removed. I would provide them with an itemized list of things you will deduct from their security deposit if they are not in the same condition as when they moved in. When you provide tenants clarity on what is expected of them to complete upon move out and they sign it (that's why you do a move in/move out walk through document, good tenants will usually comply regardless of whether or not they secure a new residence. They do this because their incentive is to get most of their security deposit back. If they know what is expected from them, they'll either do what you ask or they'll have it deducted from their deposit.

No, not moving here from out of state, my point was that your asertion that the utilities follow them is not true. Utilities are usually city specific and most of my tenants are moving into my rentals from other local cities and moving out tp other local cities, except the tenant in question who is moving out of state.

Video and record entire unit at move in, have tenant sign move in sheet.

Inspect property quarterly while tenant is there and have damage repair and paid for by tenant at the time.

Do inspection of unit as soon as they give notice to move.

Have tenant sign notice of items to be addressed prior to move out

Do inspection week of move out. Indicate deficiencies to tenant

Do final inspection after move out.

All deficiencies need to be addressed by hired contractor, repairs, cleaning, junk removal etc. Landlord in order to deduct cost from deposits must not do any work themselves.

Deduct all costs from deposit and include copy of contractor invoices to send to tenant.

Hi Jack,

I have found it helpful to send out a letter stating the basics of what is expected when they move out- the unit is to be clean and free of belongings and trash.  This includes items left in the basement/yard/ etc.  The trash must be taken out at the proper time (our city is strict about fining for trash placed out early, or too much trash, and they issue fines, so I make them aware of the guidelines).  Keys can be kept since I am changing the locks anyways, but I prefer they be returned since it is further proof that they have vacated the apartment.  They need to provide a forwarding address within 4 days of moving out, and I provide the phone number for the utility company so that they can get the utilities transferred out of their name.    I also include the checklist that Brandon Turner shared:

https://www.biggerpockets.com/files/user/brandonat...

I edited it a bit to reflect my specific needs, but it is a great starting place.  

I remind them of my duties- I must send them the remaining deposit and any explanation of charges made against it within 30 days, and I generally mail the deposit back in less than a week if the apartment is clean and free of debris and belongings, and in good repair.

I offer to do a walk through with them so that they understand what is normal wear and tear and what is not, and what sort of charges to expect for things so they can figure out if it is better to repair things themselves or let us do it. I actually prefer they leave any drywall damages for us to fix since most people don't know how to repair holes, so their repairs actually make our repairs take longer.

Once I am sure they have moved out (most let me know, but a few have just sort of vanished and I am left to figure it out) I do a thorough walk through with the move in check list (if they bothered to fill it out) and our notes from when they moved in.  I take pictures and make notes of things to be repaired and whether or not they are things we would charge for.