Signing a Check

The Move In Process and Ideas

Signing a CheckSigning the lease paperwork and handing over the keys sounds simple enough. So why is it that so many problems happen when the tenants move out and their idea of what they moved into does not match your own? Did you have a detailed move-in process checklist completed? Perhaps you didn’t think it was necessary because they were so nice, or you just ran out of time while doing turnover repairs, they were in a hurry to move in, you were busy cleaning or you were in a hurry to move someone in. Whatever the reason, this simple task is often overlooked or not completed in a satisfactory manner.

When Tenants Move Out
Have you ever heard a landlord who had moved in their own tenant and they basically gave him a free month of rent and no security deposit requirement because the condition of the property was not ideal. So what happens when the tenant moves out?

If there is any damage to the unit, you cannot recover any of that money you’ve paid for repairs if they never completed a move-in inspection sheet. The tenant does not have to pay a thing because you cannot prove anything. Meticulous documentation is absolutely necessary — all parties must sign a move-in inspection form and show that everyone is in agreement on the condition of the place.

Tenant Move-In Process
I have found it often difficult to coordinate the documenting of the move-in inspection, failing to do things properly, and then wishing I had done better in the beginning. Now I am doing the move-in inspection first before signing any lease paperwork and then following with the lease paperwork so that it is fully complete without exception.

The lease paperwork will also state the following:

  • Every occupant that lives there
  • What the prorated rent is
  • A receipt for the security deposit
  • The term of the lease
  • What will be accepted as far as payments
  • All of the rules and addenda required for that state and age of property
  • Whether there are any pets, what pet fees are paid, and what is nonrefundable

If something is not spelled out at move-in, then it will undoubtedly cause potential arguments later.

Tenant Screenings are Vital
You can set whatever screening criteria you want as long as it is followed consistently, complies with state rental laws, and is not discriminatory. If an applicant cannot meet those requirements, I send them an adverse action letter explaining why they’ve been declined, similar to the letter you might get if you are denied credit. For my own tenants, I require:

  • three times the rent in gross income
  • a credit score of 650 or higher
  • no criminal history
  • a year of positive rental history
  • no more than two occupants per bedroom

Your own criteria can be more or less restrictive, as long as the tenant or tenants understand it before they apply. Read more about our tips on doing good background checks.