Why a Move-In Property Condition Checklist is Important | Roanoke Property Management - Article Banner

As a landlord, you need to ensure that your Roanoke rental property is in good condition with regular property inspections. A thorough inspection before the tenant moves in, during the occupancy period, and after the tenant moves out can help you identify any issues and get them resolved as soon as possible so that the habitability of the rental is not compromised. Inspections can also help you stay aware of the condition of the house at different times, and at different stages of leasing. 

Rental inspections are generally categorized into three broad categories as follows: 

  • Move-in inspection, before you hand over the house to the renter 
  • Routine inspections when your tenants are using the rental, and
  • Move-out inspection, after they decide to leave

A property condition checklist ensures that you do not miss out on any particulars and keep track of every little detail of the house during these inspections. Here are some reasons why a move-in property condition checklist is important and how you can get started with making one.

What is a Move-in Property Checklist?

A move-in property checklist comes into the picture after you have accepted a tenant application and both parties have signed the lease. Before the tenant moves in, the landlord should conduct a thorough inspection of the unit to a) ensure that the place is clean and ready to move-in and b) make a note of the current condition of the appliances, rooms, furnishings, etc. for comparing it to the move-out inspection when the time comes.

A move-in checklist includes all the little details that you should be monitoring during the inspection, written in a comprehensive manner, enabling you to assess your Roanoke rental more effectively. 

You can either draft it on your own or, if you have a property manager, they can handle it on your behalf.

Why is a Move-In Property Condition Checklist Important?

The move-in property condition checklist is one of the most important documents that a landlord must possess. It can be used during every inspection as a guideline to make sure you do not miss out on inspecting any part of the house. In addition, there are several reasons that make the checklist fundamental. These include,

  • It Shows Your Professionalism

In the real estate business, you must stay informed and have detailed data about your rental at all times. From minor repairs and replacements to major modifications requiring large capital investment, having detailed documentation shows your professionalism as a Roanoke rental owner. In addition, it subtly conveys to the tenants that you believe in recorded data and do not prefer leaving scope for any misunderstandings or assumptions.

  • It Helps You Document and Track the Property Condition

Once the tenants move into the rental, the only time you can visit is for an official inspection, that too with due prior notice. A move-in checklist helps you document the initial state of the property and use it as a baseline to keep track of the changing condition of your Roanoke home.

If you do not keep track of the changes taking place in the home, you might not be able to pinpoint what has changed or to what extent. The checklist can act as a directive in such situations. You may also forget to check for certain items or smaller appliances that might or might not be in their original places. The list thus works as a standard catalog to check if any of the items are misplaced, thrown out, or lost by the renters, at the time of moving-out.

  • It Gives Tenants a Sense of Accountability

Move-in inspections should be done in the presence of the renters. It allows them to witness every item of the house and its condition while you jot down the details and click pictures or shoot videos. Using a move-in property condition checklist during the inspection lets them know that you have saved the data with proof of the state of these items. 

In addition, this creates a sense of accountability within them as they understand that you will be monitoring every aspect of the property during regular inspections. Typically, landlords are expected to share a copy of this checklist with the tenant as well, hence, this inspection checklist can be their guide to keeping every room, every item, and utility, clean and operational.

  • It is Legal Proof in Case of Disagreements About Security Deposits

In case of property damages, the expenses are deducted from the tenant’s security deposit. However, some tenants may contest this decision and file a suit. In such a scenario, the move-in property condition checklist constitutes proof of how the property was before the tenant moved in and helps prove if your claim is justified.

  • Recovering the Repair Costs from Tenants Becomes Easier  

Normal wear and tear are a part of a rental investment. However, there is a difference between normal wear and tear and intentional (or even unintentional) damage to the property. Consider that you find some heavy damage to the property during your regular inspections. If it falls under wear and tear, the landlord is supposed to pay for the repairs. However, if it falls under damage, the tenant is supposed to pay the expenses. 

As the move-in checklist is evidence of the state of the property before the tenant came to live there, it can be an important tool to determine if the damage is natural or intentional. 

If you can confirm that the specific item was in good condition before the occupants started using it, with the help of relevant photos and videos, you can recover the repair costs quickly, as you have the evidence to back up your claim.

  • It Helps in Building a Healthy Landlord-Tenant Relationship 

In most cases, if the landlord and the tenant are both sensible and mutually understanding, there may not ever be a dispute. However, considering the scenario that there is a damages-related dispute between the two parties, a move-in checklist can be crucial to determine who is to pay for the repairs. 

Property condition tracking checklists are an excellent way to stay on the same page with your tenant and ensure that both you and the occupant are aware of the changes in the rental house during every inspection, leaving no room for disputes. 

A sensible and thorough move-in checklist encourages transparency between the landlord and the tenants and works as a stepping stone towards building a great landlord-tenant relationship.

How To Create a Move-In Property Condition Checklist for Your Roanoke Rental? What Should It Include?

Important ChecklistNow that we have seen why a move-in property condition checklist is important, let us look at how to make one. There are several things to be included, from basics to detailed documentation making note of every aspect of the property.

  • The date of inspection
  • The landlord’s and the renter’s name 
  • The day, date, and time of documentation
  • The day, date, and time when the occupant moves in 
  • The signatures of the landlord and the renter. 

To begin with, you must make separate columns for different rooms and areas of your home and assign names to them accordingly. You can add the following items in each of these columns.

  • The things that you should document through pictures and videos 
  • The condition of the paint 
  • The condition of the roof 
  • The toiletries that you arrange 
  • The decor items
  • The dates of the installation of new appliances, brand, warranty, and working condition.
  • Other utilities

You can also rate each of these items in the following manner:

  • E- Excellent
  • S-Satisfactory
  • NP- Needs Painting
  • NC- Needs Cleaning
  • NR- Needs Repair 
  • NTBR- Needs to be Replaced
  • ONU- Of No Use

Making a move-in checklist is undoubtedly one of the most important requirements of the entire property leasing process. You need to be very meticulous to make sure that you do not miss out on monitoring any crucial aspect of the property. 

Hiring an experienced property management company – like Lawson Realty Group – that can efficiently do this for you is a good idea here, especially if you are a new investor and need some guidance. 

Lawson Realty Group has been in the real estate business for over four decades and we know the Roanoke investment market extremely well. Our experienced property managers have conducted thousands of inspections and know exactly how to record every major and minor element in your move-in checklists. We can create a customized move-in checklist template for your property and help you through every inspection to protect you and your asset at every step of your investment journey.

For more information, connect with us at Lawson Realty Group.