Tenant Move In Checklist

Last Updated: July 21, 2022 by Robert Bailey

A Tenant Move In Checklist is a document that outlines the condition of the property before a tenant moves in. This checklist ensures that the property is in good condition for the tenant and that the tenant understands the landlord’s expectations for the property when moving out.

Do you need a Move In Checklist?

In some states, a landlord is required by law to provide a Move In Checklist to some or all tenants before the beginning of the lease.

State Requirement
Arizona All New Tenancies
Georgia Only if Collecting a Security Deposit
Hawaii All New Tenancies
Kansas All New Tenancies
Kentucky Only if Collecting a Security Deposit
Maryland All New Tenancies
Massachusetts Only if Collecting a Security Deposit
Michigan Only if Collecting a Security Deposit
Montana Only if Collecting a Security Deposit
Nevada All New Tenancies
North Dakota All New Tenancies
Virginia All New Tenancies
Washington Only if Collecting a Security Deposit
Wisconsin Only if Collecting a Security Deposit

If a Move In checklist was not provided, landlords may be significantly limited from recovering money for any damages discovered during the Move Out Inspection.

Even if providing a checklist is optional, there are several benefits to use one:

  • It provides an organized way to keep track of the property’s condition.
  • It holds tenants accountable for damages, beyond normal wear and tear,  that occur during the tenancy.
  • It reduces the likelihood of disputes with a tenant.
  • It provides written documentation in case there is damage that the tenant claims they did not cause.
  • It increases the likelihood that the property will remain in good condition.

What a Tenant Move In Checklist Should Include

A Move In Checklist should provide the following:

  • Instructions. The checklist should contain clear instructions on conducting the inspection and assessing potential damages. This includes both damages found during the Move In Inspection as well as during the final inspection when the tenant moves out.
  • Inspection Items. The checklist should list every room and item to be inspected. This is important as your checklist should contain an identical “Move Out” section for when the tenant moves out.
  • Move In Inspection. There should be a column to note any damages discovered during the Move In Inspection.
  • Move Out Inspection. There should also be a separate column next to the Move In Inspection to note any damages discovered during the Move Out Inspection.
  • Costs. The checklist should have a final column to list the costs incurred for any damages or areas that required cleaning. This section should be used for the Move Out Inspection to document money owed to the landlord.

Rooms, Hallways, and Entryways

The Move In Checklist should contain a list of every single room and entryway in the rental unit. The checklist should contain a separate section for every area of the rental unit that the tenant will be responsible for. These include:

  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Patio
  • Deck
  • Hallways
  • Entryway

The number and types of sections listed will be dependent on the rental unit.

Items within each Room

For each room on the checklist, it must list the items that will be inspected. These include:

  • Walls
  • Floor
  • Ceiling
  • Windows
  • Shades/Blinds
  • Screens
  • Closets
  • Shelves
  • Appliances
  • Light Fixtures
  • Outlets/Switches

In the template provided, some of the items will not be applicable for each room. When filling out the Move In Checklist, make sure that this is clearly noted to avoid any ambiguity.

How to Use a Move In Checklist

When completing a Move In Checklist, follow these step-by-step instructions to make sure the entire process has been properly documented:

  1. Each party should have a blank copy of the checklist prior to the inspection.
  2. Both parties should fully inspect one room at a time.
  3. Inspect each item in the room starting with the most general items (e.g., walls, floors etc.) to the most room-specific items (e.g., Stove, toilet, etc.).
  4. Fill out the appropriate box for every item on the checklist for that room. Our Move In checklist contains a helpful legend to assist in recording the property condition (e.g, EC = Excellent Condition) and any action (e.g, . RN = Repair Needed) that may need to be taken. Provide as much specific information as possible. If there is damage, specify the type of damage and exactly where it is located.
  5. Clearly notate when a room or item is not applicable. Avoid being vague and do not leave any blank spaces that may create ambiguity. If there is an item or room that is not applicable, clearly note the fact.
  6. If damaged or unclean items, provide specific details on the condition of the item and the action that will be taken.
  7. Pictures. Take several pictures of the property. For documentation purposes, both the tenant and landlord should have a copy of these pictures. The pictures should be signed and dated by both parties to avoid any dispute over the timing or authenticity of the pictures.
  8. Repeat these steps for each room in the rental unt.
  9. Once the checklist is complete, both parties should review it in its entirety. 
  10. Both parties will then sign the completed checklist.
  11. The landlord will provide a copy of the completed and signed Move In Checklist to the tenant.
  12. At this point the tenant and landlord should agree upon a plan for any necessary repairs or cleaning (see below for step-by-step instructions).
  13. Keep a copy of the signed checklist for your records.

In some states, this checklist is required to be used during the Move Out Inspection. Even if not required, it will be useful to have when conducting the final inspection.

Completing Repairs and Cleaning Recorded on the Move In Checklist

The Inspection may result in repairs and cleaning that the landlord must complete. It is the duty of the landlord to make sure any repairs or cleaning is properly completed and in a timely fashion. When a rental unit requires either repair or cleaning, the landlord should take the following steps:

  1. Itemized List. Prepare an itemized list of all items/areas to be repaired and/or cleaned (e.g. Front left burner on the kitchen stove does not properly ignite).
  2. Condition. Provide specific detail as to the condition of the item/area (this should be identical to the Move-In Checklist).
  3. Landlord Responsibilities. Provide specific detail as to what repair or cleaning will be completed (e.g. Landlord will replace the front left burner on the kitchen stove).
  4. Deadline. Provide a date upon which the repair or cleaning will be completed.
  5. Clean or Repair. Clean or Repair the deficient item/area that was noted on the checklist.
  6. Follow-up Inspection. Inspect the item/area with the tenant again to ensure that the required task has been completed.
  7. Written Confirmation. Obtain written confirmation from the tenant that the task has been properly completed.

Note: If the tenant has already moved in, schedule an agreed upon date and time in which the repair and/or cleaning will take place.

When to Send a Move In Checklist

Generally, the checklist should be provided to the tenant at least one week before moving in. This will provide the tenant with enough time to review and understand their obligations before moving in. This will also provide the tenant and landlord an opportunity to review the condition of all items on the checklist before the lease begins.

What Comes After the Move In Inspection?

After the initial inspection has been completed it is time for the tenant to move in. In some instances, a landlord will inspect the property about halfway through the tenancy to make sure there are no issues. Landlords that plan to do so can use our Landlord Inspection Checklist Template.

Unless there are problems along the way, the Move In Checklist can be filed away until it’s time for the tenant to vacate the premises and conduct a Move Out Inspection. If a tenant has moved in already without a checklist, you can use our Move Out Checklist when the time comes.