When Tenants Move Out: What Should Landlords Do?

A move out checklist for tenants is imperative for a smooth transition. But, what does the move-out process even entail?

The Importance of a Move Out Checklist for Tenants

Some landlords believe that the process of moving out does not require a set of procedures. They would rather wing it than bother to follow a series of steps. But, this approach to a tenant moving out only invites disaster.

The primary purpose of a move out checklist for tenants to follow is to prevent any disputes over the security deposit. More often than not, when tenants move out without guidance, they end up leaving the property in a less-than-desirable condition. They might also inadvertently violate the terms of their lease. As a result, landlords have no choice but to deduct the cost of repairs from the security deposit.

Yet, some tenants will dispute the deduction. They will argue that the lease does not stipulate any provisions for moving out. To avoid this kind of debacle, a moving out checklist comes in handy.


Landlord’s POV: What to Do When Tenants Move Out

Seeing a tenant move out can be a sad moment for many landlords, especially if the tenant was a particularly good one. But, most tenants will eventually move out and on to another chapter in their lives. On their part, landlords should expect to complete the following steps to ensure a smooth move-out process.


1. Receive Proper Notice

Most state laws and lease agreements require tenants to give landlords sufficient notice before they move out. This is especially so if the lease is expiring soon, and the tenant does not intend on renewing it. The notice period can vary, though it generally falls somewhere between 30 and 90 days. For month-to-month leases, most states (such as California) require tenants to give at least 30 days’ notice.


2. Conduct an Inspection

Inspections take place when a tenant first moves in, on a routine basis, and when a tenant moves out. The move out inspection allows the landlord to check for any damages to the property that were not there when the tenant moved in. This usually happens after a tenant has removed all of their belongings from the rental property.

It is good to have a landlord move out inspection checklist handy. This way, landlords won’t miss out on anything important. The scheduled inspection also gives landlords and tenants an opportunity to check the property together. Then, they can discuss any damages that need repairing.

If there are damages, landlords must give tenants an estimated cost of repairs. The tenant can pay for this out-of-pocket or agree to have the amount deducted from the security deposit.


3. Ask for the Locks and Keys

Privacy and security are paramount for any tenant. As such, landlords must make sure to take back the unit’s keys and any other items that grant access to the property. After that, it is imperative that landlords replace the locks and update the security system. This way, the new tenant will feel at ease in their new home.


4. Send the Security Deposit

The last step in the process is usually to send the security deposit back to the tenant. While state laws can vary on this, landlords must generally mail the security deposit within 21 days upon the tenant’s returning of the keys. If the landlord does not intend to return the security deposit in full or at all, they must instead send an itemized list of repairs within the same time period. Keeping copies of the invoices and receipts for the repairs is also necessary.


Should Landlords Help When Tenants Move Out?

It is not obligatory for a landlord to help tenants move out of their units. The tenant is responsible for providing the landlord with proper notice and ensuring the property is free from any damages. The tenant must also coordinate with movers and remove their belongings from the unit themselves. While tenants generally have these responsibilities, landlords can help with the process by supplying their tenants with a move out tenant checklist.


What Is a Tenant Move Out Form?

Also known as a move out checklist for tenants, this form serves as a set of instructions indicating what the tenant should do if they decide to move out of the property. Landlords should attach this form as an addendum to the original lease contract. There is no catch-all format for this checklist, as landlords can have their own versions of the form.


Rental Move Out Checklist Template

Constructing a checklist from scratch can come as a challenge for many landlords. To help out, here is a sample move-out list for tenants landlords can use.

  1. Please provide a written notice at least 30 days prior to your move-out date.
  2. The move-out inspection will be scheduled after notice has been provided.
  3. Upon move out, please ensure the following:
    • The unit must be vacuumed and mopped.
    • All bathrooms must be cleaned.
    • rental move out checklistThe kitchen must be cleaned.
    • All walls must be cleaned and painted the same color from when the tenant first moved in.
    • All carpets must be vacuumed.
    • The locks on all doors and windows must be functional.
    • Lightbulbs must be replaced and working.
    • All smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors must be working.
    • The heating, plumbing, and electric systems must be functioning properly.
    • All of the tenant’s belongings must be removed from the property.
    • All keys must be returned to the landlord.
  4. Notify the landlord of any issues or damages to the property.
  5. To receive the tenant’s security deposit in full, all of the above items must be completed before the move out date. The cost of any repairs will be deducted from the security deposit. If the security deposit isn’t enough to cover these costs, the landlord will send the tenant a bill with an itemized list of repairs.


Worth the Effort

A move out checklist for tenants may seem like an extra bit of work for landlords. But, such a small action can go a long way in ensuring the tenant leaves the rental property in good condition. It also helps prevent any disputes over the security deposit.

For landlords who don’t want to oversee the move-out process, hiring a property manager is the best option. Search for the best property management company in your area today using Rental Choice’s online directory.



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