After a tenant moves out, or if you have acquired a new property you will be renting for the first time, taking stock of the empty unit is critical. It will give you an opportunity to evaluate the state of the unit, make note of anything that needs repair, and make sure it is in good condition for its next occupants.
Once you have selected the next tenant or tenants for the unit, perform a walkthrough with them -- before they sign a lease agreement. This will help ensure that your tenants know the exact condition of the property before signing the lease agreement.
A checklist can assist you in the walkthrough process, and it can be used to prove the condition of the property should the need ever arise. Have the tenant initial each section of the checklist, then sign the bottom of the document.
Then attach a copy of the checklist to the lease agreement so you can evaluate the condition of the apartment at the end of the lease term. This will help you determine how much of the damage deposit, if any, you can withhold to repair any damage committed by your tenant.
Here are some tips for creating a comprehensive walkthrough checklist for your rental property.
Tips for creating your walkthrough checklist
- Divide the checklist into rooms. If your property contains five different rooms, each room should have its own section on your checklist. This will make the actual state of each room more clear and allow you to be specific about any existing problems.
- Individualize the list for each room. Once you have separated your checklist into different rooms, create spaces for different fixtures, floor coverings, and appliances. Go through each room ahead of time and make a note of what is contained in each room.
Tips for performing the walkthrough
- Start with the floor. Start each room with the condition of the flooring material. If a room is carpeted, make note of stains, rips, or excessive wear. If the floor is tiled or covered in another kind of material, check for problems with the grout, edges, or tearing of the floor material.
- Move to the walls. Once you have examined the floors, you can move on to the walls and the ceilings of the dwelling. Are there any marks, chips, cracks, or holes in the walls or ceiling? Look closely for nail holes or other imperfections.
- Look at the woodwork. Check the cabinets, door jambs, trim, closets, and doors. Are there any scratches that will require refinishing? Are the insides of the cabinets clean and in good shape? Look inside closets to make sure that the flooring material is intact and that they have been completely cleaned out. Make note of the condition of the closet doors. Do they open and shut properly, or do they need repair?
- Check out the fixtures. Examine sinks, faucets, and lights carefully. Are they in proper working order? Are the faucets marred by hard water or rust deposits? Test all of the fixtures to make sure they work.
- Do not forget the appliances. If you have included a dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, or other appliance, check the exteriors to make sure that they are in good condition. Once you have looked at the outside, check each appliance to make sure that it is operating correctly. Run the dishwasher, turn on the microwave, and make sure that the refrigerator is cooling properly.
- Check any additional areas. If you have provided window treatments, a fireplace, furniture, or any other features, make sure they are in good condition and working properly.
Once you have completed your checklist, you will have a better idea of the condition of your property and you will be able to make educated decisions on what needs to be done to the dwelling both before and after your tenant moves in.