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February 8, 2024

Tenant Move-Out Checklist for Property Managers

Noah Goldman
Chief Operating Officer

Preparing for renters to move out is something that busy landlords and property managers often overlook. Because tenants can come and go – some more quickly than others – it’s wise to be well prepared should your renters decide to move on.

Taking the time to document the move-out process even before a renter moves in can help make the transition between tenants easier. With a bit of prep work up front, you can save enormous frustration down the road.

This post highlights what you need to know about the tenant move-out process, including a tenant move-out checklist for property managers and what to do to ensure the experience is as straightforward as possible.

Benefits of a Move-Out Checklist

Developing a comprehensive move-out process can help landlords and property managers establish clear expectations upfront, helping to ensure that renters know what’s required of them before they move out.

A move-out checklist should outline the steps needed to guarantee a smooth transition for both the renter and the landlord. It should detail everything from the expected move-out condition of the rental unit to the procedure for returning the security deposit.

Because everything is spelled out in writing, the tenant move-out process can help circumvent potential miscommunication and varying expectations for both parties. It can also help limit common issues that can occur on move-out day. Examples might include appliances suddenly disappearing with a renter or a random collection of their unwanted keepsakes being left behind.

The move-out checklist and expected process should be well-defined in the lease agreement, and all tenants should be alerted of these expected guidelines when they first move in. Landlords should also provide a copy of the checklist and process once more when they get ready to move out.

What to Include in Your Move-Out Checklist 

Navigating the move-out process requires a strategic game plan for success. With the numerous tasks involved, it’s wise to have a checklist that includes priorities and scheduling aspects.

The key to a successful experience is ensuring your tenant thoroughly comprehends their responsibilities related to the move-out process. Here are some areas to include on your checklist:

Notification. Tenants must provide plenty of notice before their move-out, as the lease agreement specifies. Most property managers and landlords prefer their renters to submit written notice, per their lease terms, including the intended move-out date.

Review Lease Agreement. Make sure tenants are familiar with the move-out clauses outlined in the lease. They also should fully understand the notice period, considering any penalties or fees associated with breaking the lease early.

Property Cleaning. In most cases, the renters are expected to clean the premises before moving out. They should clean the entire property, including floors, walls, appliances and fixtures, and any areas outside the unit that apply. Additionally, they are responsible for repairing damages while residing in the rental unit.

Utilities and Services. It’s the tenant’s responsibility to notify utility providers of their move-out date and schedule service disconnections. On this same note, they should take the time to update their forwarding address with the post office and notify any additional service providers.

Final Walk-Through. It’s essential to schedule time for the landlord and tenant to coordinate a final walk-through to identify issues that need attention. Each party can document the property’s condition, including any photos or videos of the property’s condition. The tenant can then remedy the noted issues before their official move-out.

Key Return. The tenants must hand over all keys, access cards, and garage door openers to the property manager or landlord. It’s also wise to confirm access changes, including security codes. This will ensure that the tenant can no longer gain entry into the unit. In most cases, we recommend that the landlord install new locks and generate new security codes.

Financial Settlement. It’s critical for renters planning to move out to clear any outstanding rent, fees, or bills with the landlord. Landlords should always clarify the process for the security deposit return and have a forwarding mail address (or digital method like Zelle or Venmo) for the refund.

Utilizing the latest property management technology can streamline many of the tasks noted in the checklist. Digital tools – think tenant portals and communication platforms – facilitate smooth and timely interaction between property managers and renters. The technology allows for quick response times and transparent communication, fostering satisfaction all around.

How the Move-Out Checklist Affects the Security Deposit

Whether you manage an apartment, townhouse, or condo, you should have a checklist that can guarantee you won’t miss any possible damage done to the property. A thorough checklist can protect landlords from hidden damage and potential cleaning costs.

A security deposit, typically equivalent to one month’s rent, can be withheld if a renter has damaged the property or failed to make any rental payments. If there are no damages, the security deposit is returned in full to the tenant following their official move-out date.

Property managers and landlords can deduct specific fees from the security deposit if there is damage beyond normal wear and tear from the renter. In these situations, it’s legally required that the landlord share why the security deposit was withheld.

Successfully Navigating the Move-Out Process

The tenant move-out process requires careful attention to detail and excellent communication.

By following a detailed checklist like the one above, renters and landlords can ensure that the property remains in good condition, complies with legal requirements, and provides a smooth transition into the next chapter for each party involved.