Every day thousands of people move in and out of their rental properties. Some moves go smoothly while others can leave both parties flustered.

A little preparation can help both landlords and tenants make this event less stressful.
These days most landlords will attach a checklist to the lease agreement to specify how exactly the property should be left at move out and any other obligations that need to be fulfilled.

What should a Move-Out a Checklist include?
The contents and details of the move-out checklist will depend on the type of the property, the duration of the tenancy and the area you live in.

Generally speaking, the purpose of the move-out checklist is to let the tenant know how the move out should happen and what obligations need to be fulfilled on the part of the tenant.

A tenant is required to return the property to the landlord in the same condition in which it was acquired.
The checklist can also specify that how any changes to the property should be handled.

Why should we have a move out checklist?
The importance of a checklist comes in to play when its time to get your security deposit back from the landlord.

If the tenant understands and adheres to the requirements specified in the checklist, it is easier to claim the full amount of the security deposit.

If the landlord provides a clear detailed checklist, it is easier to keep a portion of the security deposit to pay for any damages or unauthorized changes to the property.

Sample Move Out Checklist

  1. Move out notice: The tenant should provide a written notice of intent to move out to the landlord. The notice period will be specified in the lease agreement. This will help both parties to schedule a move-out inspection of the property. The landlord should be notified of any damages as they happen and not kept as a surprise for move out.
    • Access time: Have a candid discussion around when and how often the landlord/property manager can bring people to view the property. This is usually stated in the lease agreement. Make sure you have enough notice, usually 24 hours. Please state your availability or access hours in writing to avoid any scuffles later on.
    • Moving dates: If your move out date falls on a public holiday or a significant holiday, make sure that you let this be known and make sure that everyone is fine with it.
  2. Cleaning up the apartment: The tenant should clean the entire apartment, kitchen, bathrooms, sweep the floors, closets, drawers, refrigerator, stoves, microwave and any other appliances provided by the landlord. If the apartment was carpeted, make sure the carpets are returned clean. You might be asked to fumigate if you have had pets. Ensure that windows and the exterior area are cleaned up as well. Baseboards is another area that is often forgotten and raise issues. Don’t forget to take out the garbage.
  3. Changes to the rental unit: If you have changed the color of the paint on the wall(s), make sure you paint them back their original color unless your landlord has authorized the change. Failing to reverse the unauthorized changes is just cause for your landlord to not return the full amount of your security deposit.
  4. Electric appliances: All electric appliances, devices, light bulbs should be left in working condition including phone jacks.
  5. Smoke alarms: The smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms/detectors should be checked to make sure they are working properly.
  6. Personal furniture/possessions: Do not leave behind any personal furniture or possessions that were not there when you moved in. Again, check with the landlord ahead of time if there is a specific piece you would want to leave behind.
  7. Landscaping/Mowing: If the property has any lawns or landscaping, make sure it is returned to the original condition. Some people take before and after photos to be clear.
  8. Heating: Make sure that all the heating systems are working properly, the plumbing should not have any leaks or blockages. These are big ticket maintenance issues and must be addressed if you want your full deposit back.
  9. Utilities: You can start transferring the utility accounts back to the landlord but have the utilities working until after the inspection is completed.
  10. Keys: Last but not least make sure you arrange with your landlord to set up a time for returning the keys especially if the move out is happening over a major public holiday.
    What should a Move-in Checklist include?

A move-in checklist should include essentially the same items that a move out checklist has. A move-in checklist is something that the landlord can use to organize himself and the property for the tenant.

Why should we have a Move-in Checklist?
From the tenant’s point of view, without a move-in checklist, you can put yourself at a serious disadvantage during move out as well as through the duration of the tenancy. A sound move-in checklist will help you ensure you there are no surprises and that you get your full security deposit back.

A sample Move-In Checklist

  1. Lease agreement: Go over the terms and conditions of the lease agreement to make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities. Clarify any terms that appear dubious.Get a clear understanding of how any changes will be handled. The lease agreement should specify how changes would be authorized and when and how your security deposit will be returned.
  2. Inspection of the rental unit: Inspect the rental space and make sure that it has been swept clean for you including kitchen, bathrooms, closets, windows, drawers, baseboards, windows and carpets if applicable. It’s a good idea to open and close doors, windows, blinds, appliances, and drawers to ensure they are working properly.
  3. Electric appliances: Check that all electric appliances provided in the kitchen, laundry are in excellent working condition.
  4. Smoke alarms/detectors: Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms/detectors should be installed and in working condition.
  5. Carpets: If space is carpeted, you might want to check out the condition and take photos for later use. If you see any stains or rips, make sure you bring it to the attention of the landlord. Walk around the rental space and observe any funny smells and where they might be emanating from.
  6. Heating and Plumbing: Check the heating and air conditioning, if applicable, to see if they are in working condition. Flush the toilets and check all taps/faucets for any leaks or blockages.
  7. Utility Meters: Make sure you get the utility meters readings at move in, take pictures to be sure. Have the landlord co-sign the meter readings.
  8. Landscaping/lawn mowing: If the property has any landscaped lawns, make sure you take pictures and understand how you will be keeping up with its maintenance.
  9. Contact information/communication: Last but not least, arrange when and how your landlord wants to be communicated with to ensure you know how to reach him/her.

Please return the property as close to the original condition as possible. This will ensure that you get your security deposit as close to the original amount as possible.
All the best with your move in or move out!!