Tenant Move Out Checklist

Last Updated: May 18, 2022 by Robert Bailey

The Tenant Move Out Checklist is a document that outlines the tasks a tenant must complete before moving out and receiving their security deposit. Landlords should provide this checklist as part of the original lease agreement to ensure the tenant understands their responsibilities before moving into your rental unit.

Do You Need a Move Out Checklist?

The Tenant Move Out Checklist is a document that outlines the tasks a tenant must complete before moving out and receiving their security deposit. Landlords should provide this checklist as part of the original lease agreement to ensure the tenant understands their responsibilities before moving into your rental unit.

When a Move Out Checklist is Required by Law

In some states, a Move Out Checklist (often connected with a Move In Checklist) is required by law. When this is the case you may have to use the original checklist provided at move in.

If you do not have a copy of the original checklist, reach out to your landlord for a signed copy. If a Move In checklist was required but not provided, landlords may be significantly limited from recovering damages.

The following states require landlords to use a Move Out Checklist or provide similar documentation when a tenant that has provided a security deposit is vacating the premises.

  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Wisconsin

A few other states do not require a Move Out Checklist but require one when moving in. If your rental property is in one of the states listed below, make sure you have this document with you when inspecting the premises at the end of the lease.

  • Arizona
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington*

*Washington only requires a Move In Checklist if a security deposit is collected.

When a Move Out Checklist is Optional

Even if a Move Out Checklist is optional, there are several benefits for both the landlord and the tenant.

Landlord Benefits

The Move Out checklist provides the following benefits for the landlord:

  • Helps ensure that the move-out process goes smoothly.
  • Keeps the landlord organized.
  • Helps minimize potential disputes with the tenant.
  • Helps quickly identify necessary repairs.
  • Increases the likelihood that the property will be returned in good condition.
  • Assists in making a quicker turnaround for getting a new tenant in the rental unit.

Tenant Benefits

The Move-out checklist provides benefits to the tenant as well. These include:

  • Giving the tenant a clear understanding of their obligations.
  • Incentivizes the tenant to keep the property in good condition.
  • Makes the move-out process clear and less stressful.

What a Tenant Move Out Checklist Should Include

A Landlord may modify their Tenant Move Out Checklist depending on their property and processes for ending leases. Generally, it will include the cleaning procedures and expectations of the condition of the property upon moving out.

The primary information contained in the Tenant Move Out Checklist are the tasks a tenant must complete before vacating the premises. The Tenant Move-Out Checklist should include the following tasks:

  • Scheduling. The tenant must schedule a date for the inspection of the rental unit. The tenant should also schedule a time to return their keys and any other items belonging to the rental unit.
  • Cleaning Requirements. The checklist should detail the specific rooms (e.g. living room, kitchen, etc.) and items to be cleaned (e.g. shower, appliances, etc.). The checklist should also detail the type of cleaning to be performed (e.g. sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, etc.). Landlords should make sure this list is as comprehensive as possible.
  • Painting. The walls should be painted the same color as when the tenant moved in. If a tenant decides to paint the rental unit for any reason, they are responsible for returning the walls back to their original color.
  • Removal of trash and personal belongings. The tenant must remove all trash and personal belongings from the rental property. This includes areas within the rental unit as well as designated outdoor areas such as a patio or deck.
  • Appliances and Miscellaneous Items. Tenant shall provide confirmation that the following items are in proper working order: (1) Appliances, (2) Light fixtures, (3) Electric, (4) Plumbing, (5) Air Conditioner, (6) Heating System, (7) Smoke Alarms, and (8) Carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Damages. The tenant must notify the landlord of any damages to the property. For this section, a tenant or landlord should refer back to any documentation that was prepared during the move in inspection.
  • Security Deposit. The tenant shall provide the forwarding address for where the landlord should send their security deposit.

If you choose, you can provide greater detail to your move-out checklist. Some landlords will also provide a move-in checklist. This document contains a separate itemized section for each room in the rental unit to detail the condition of the property upon moving in.

Regardless of what form you use, do not forget to document charges for any costs incurred for incomplete items on the Move Out Checklist.

When to Send a Move Out Checklist

Generally, the Move Out Checklist should be given to the tenant at least one week before moving in. This will provide the tenant with enough time to review the checklist 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 prior to the lease beginning.

What Comes After the Move Out Inspection?

While the hope is that the move-out process will go smoothly, that is not always the case. Below are some situations you should be prepared to address.

Tenant Does Not Move Out at the End of Their Lease

In some cases, the move out inspection is delayed because the tenant has not yet moved out. If the tenant moves out late they can be held financially responsible. Depending on the state and your lease agreement a landlord may be able to do the following:

  • Charge for additional rent
  • Withhold the tenant’s security deposit
  • Charge additional penalties and fees

If the tenant refuses to move out at the end of their lease you may have to formally begin the eviction process. This process begins with the landlord sending the tenant a formal notice to vacate. For further information on the eviction process click here.

Making Record of the Property’s Condition

When it’s time to inspect the premises, document your findings in multiple ways. First, take pictures of the condition of the property. There should be a signed and dated set of photos for both the landlord and the tenant.

Second, fill out the detailed Move Out Checklist. Make sure you are specific with any information recorded in the Move Out Checklist. For instance, if there is damage to the wall do not simply state “damaged wall.” Instead, provide as much specific information about the damage as possible (e.g. “6-inch brown stain on the wall above the stove”).

Incomplete Checklist or Damages

The Move Out checklist should detail what happens if the tenant does not complete the required tasks or if there are any issues with the property upon moving out.

  • Tenant did not provide a completed Move Out Checklist. The landlord should notify the tenant that their security deposit will not be returned until all required tasks are fully completed.
  • Damage to the Property. The Landlord should provide a warning that any repair or work that needs to be performed that was the responsibility of the tenant will be deducted from the security deposit.

Do not prematurely tell the tenant they will get their full security deposit back before all of the tasks on the move-out inspection are fully completed.

What to do if the Tenant Leaves Property Behind

If a tenant leaves property behind, the landlord should take the following action:

  • Prepare an inventory of the belongings left behind.
  • Safely store all items.
  • Mail a copy of the inventory of items to the tenant’s last known address. This notice should be done by certified mail to document the proper delivery of the notice.
  • Provide the tenant a location and timeframe to claim their property. Be aware of any specific requirements required by your state.
  • If the tenant does not timely claim their property, the landlord can then dispose of the property in compliance with their state’s laws.

For more information on abandoned property, click here.

Security Deposit

The move-out checklist should inform the tenant when and how they should expect to receive their security deposit.

The amount of time a landlord has to return a tenant’s security deposit and/or notify them of any deductions is based on the state your property is located. The chart below provides a state-by-state comparison of the various required timeframes:

State Security Deposit Return Deadline
Alabama 60 days
Alaska 14 days if there are no deductions, otherwise, 30 days
Arizona 14 days (excluding weekends and legal holidays)
Arkansas 60 days
California 21 days
Colorado One month
Connecticut 30 days
Delaware 20 days
Florida 15 days if there are no deductions, otherwise, 30 days
Georgia 30 days 
Hawaii 14 days
Idaho 21 days or during the period provided in the lease but not more than 30 days
Illinois 45 days if there are deductions, otherwise, 30 days
Indiana 45 days
Iowa 30 days
Kansas 30 days 
Kentucky 30-60 days
Louisiana One month
Maine 30 days, or 21 days for at-will tenancy
Maryland 45 days
Massachusetts 30 days
Michigan 30 days
Minnesota 3 weeks, or 5 days if the building or rental unit is legally condemned
Mississippi 45 days
Missouri 30 days
Montana 30 days, or 10 days where no damage was found during the walk-through inspection
Nebraska 14 days
Nevada 30 days
New Hampshire 30 days
New Jersey 30 days; 15 days for victims of domestic violence; and 5 days if the tenant was displaced
New Mexico 30 days
New York 14 days
North Carolina 30 days
North Dakota 30 days
Ohio 30 days
Oklahoma 45 days
Oregon 31 days
Pennsylvania 30 days
Rhode Island 20 days
South Carolina 30 days
South Dakota 14 days
Tennessee No statute
Texas 30 days
Utah 30 days
Vermont 14 days
Virginia 45 days
Washington 21 days
Washington D.C. 45 days
West Virginia The sooner of 60 days or 45 days after the new tenant moves in
Wisconsin 21 days
Wyoming The later of 30 days after termination or 15 days from receipt of the tenant’s new address

In some cases, the tenants leave the premises without properly cleaning or repairing damages. At this point, the landlord may withhold part or all of the tenant’s security deposit. Follow these steps if planning on withholding a security deposit:

  • Actual Damages. Make sure your inspection reveals damages and not normal wear and tear. For a better understanding of how to make this determination, click here.
  • Notification. Notify the tenant in writing with an itemized list of the damages, the cost for any repairs, and the amount of security deposit being withheld.
  • Receipts. Keep receipts of all repairs made.
  • Remaining Security Deposit. Return the unused portion of the security deposit to the tenant.

If you have any further questions on security deposits, check out our detailed information on Security Deposit laws here.