Why a Move-in Property Condition Checklist is Important

A woman making notes next to boxes

Filling a vacancy is a major accomplishment, and it may feel like the hard work is over when you have a lease that’s signed and a security deposit that’s collected. However, this is really only the beginning.

When a tenant is preparing to move into your Colorado Springs rental property, you want to welcome those residents into their new home and ensure the process is as stress-free as possible. Moving can produce some anxiety, and tenants will have a hard time feeling good about the future of their tenancy if the home isn’t clean when they arrive or has things missing and broken.

There are a few steps that you have to take before you hand over the keys and begin collecting rent checks every month. A move-in checklist will help you make the move-in process a little more efficient and a lot more effective. This will benefit you and your tenants.

Move-In Checklists Start with Health and Safety Issues

The first item on your list is to check for health and safety issues at your Colorado Springs rental property. If you find anything that may be hazardous to your tenants or their guests, address those issues right away. This could be something as simple as a loose handrail on steps or an electrical outlet that sizzles when something is plugged into it. If flooring is buckling or carpet is pulling up and creating a trip hazard, you’ll want to take care of that before anyone moves in.

These are things you likely would have noticed before you even listed the home, but things can happen without anyone noticing. Check under your sinks and behind your toilets to identify any soft spots or discoloration in walls and ceilings that may indicate there’s a plumbing leak. Make sure there isn’t any mold in the home. Water can be especially damaging to property and if it’s left untreated, it can lead to rot and mold. This may cause health issues to your tenants, so you want to get out ahead of it.

It’s also important to check and test the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. You want to make sure that they’re working and also that they’re in places where they’re most needed. If your property was constructed before 1978, it’s a good idea to check for lead paint as well. Don’t forget to provide tenants with a copy of all the legally required disclosures, especially concerning lead paint.

Professional Cleaning is a Checklist Item

The second task on your checklist is cleaning. You need to clean your property well. This is an important checklist item whether you’re turning over a home between tenants or renting your property out for the first time. Hire professional cleaners so you can be sure attention to detail has been part of the process. Professional movers will do more than mop and vacuum. They’ll dust ceiling fans and baseboards. They’ll pull appliances out to sweep around them. They’ll make sure your tubs and toilets shine.

Part of your cleaning process should include checking for pests. You should have a pest control service in place already and if you don’t, consider setting up a contract. Have the property exterminated or treated so there aren’t any mice or insects. This is critical because you don’t want your tenants complaining about bugs or rodents right after moving in. It doesn’t set a very pleasant stage for the tenancy.

Check Off that Plumbing, Electric, and Utilities are Working

Next on your checklist is to evaluate the systems and functions in your property.

Some systems will be more important than others. Heating, for example, is a critical component in a Colorado Springs rental home. You’ll also want to check the water heater, irrigation, plumbing, and electricity.

These are habitability issues, which means you’re legally required to attend to them. Don’t wait for repairs to be needed – get out ahead of any potential problems before your tenants move in.

Check all of the faucets and sinks and make sure the water is running and accessible. A tenant cannot move into your home if any of these things are not working properly.

All of the utilities have to be set up and turned on as well. This might be your responsibility if you include utilities in the rent. It might also be your tenant who is responsible for establishing and maintaining utility accounts. However you have it set up in your lease, make sure the heat comes on in all the rooms. Look for any leaks or drips in the plumbing. Check each outlet in every room and make sure the electricity works every time something is plugged in.

Landscaping and Snow Removal

Property conditions include the exterior of your rental home as well as the interior. This is a good time to make sure your landscaping is in good condition and that the outdoor space is safe and appealing for your tenants.

If it’s spring or summer, a green and well-maintained lawn is an important way to start the tenancy off right. Make sure it’s mowed and the bushes and trees are trimmed. You want to create a welcoming and attractive environment. Talk to your tenants about who will be responsible for mowing the lawn and keeping it watered. You may want to do it yourself or hire a company to take care of this. You can usually include the cost in the rent. Whatever you decide, make sure the lease reflects who is responsible for maintaining that outdoor space.

If you happen to be managing the move-in process during the winter, make sure that the snow has been shoveled from any driveways, sidewalks, steps, or walkways. You don’t want slippery conditions that can cause harm, especially during the moving process.

Change the Locks on Your Colorado Springs Rental Property

Always change the locks before a new tenant moves into your home. This needs to be a checklist item so you remember to do it before you hand over the new keys to your residents. You never know who a prior tenant gave keys to, and you don’t want to put your property or your renters at risk. Make sure you keep a copy of the key and give the new tenants one or two sets of those keys. Be clear about who is permitted to access the property and when.

Ask Tenants to Sign Off on the Condition Checklist

Tenants should have the opportunity to conduct their own move-in inspection and note any issues that may need attention when they move in.

The move-in checklist property condition report will be used at the end of the lease term. It documents the condition of the home during the move-in period, and after your tenants leave, you’ll conduct another inspection that reflects the condition of the home after the tenants move out. This will influence whether you deduct any funds from the security deposit to pay for damage.

Your tenants need to make a note of anything that they notice so they won’t be charged for those things after moving out.

Leave the condition report with them for one or two days. If they make notes of things that need to be fixed, make those repairs. Have your tenants sign the report and file it until it’s time to conduct your move-out inspection.

Finally, as part of the move-in process, you need to provide your tenant with all your contact information. This is especially critical if you aren’t working with a Colorado Springs property manager. When you work with a management company like ours, we will be the point of contact for your tenants. But, if you’re self-managing, you’ll need to be available to your tenant at all times. So, share your phone numbers and your email address and any other way you want your tenant to reach you.

Most Colorado Springs landlords want to have a profitable investment experience, and they want to provide a good rental experience for their tenants. A move-in checklist that’s included as part of your property condition report will almost certainly put you on the right path. It will help you stay organized and be prepared for the full tenancy.

When tenants complain about their rental experience, it’s usually a dispute that centers on the security deposit, a lack of attention to maintenance, or a confusing and inhospitable move-in experience. Make sure you use this time to establish a positive and professional relationship with your tenants. Be available if they have questions while they’re moving in, and don’t hesitate to share resources that they may find helpful.

If you have any questions about how to put together a good move-in checklist or if you’d like some help with your own process of preparing a home for a new tenant, please let us know. You can contact us at Empower Realty Team when you need some help navigating the Colorado Springs rental market. We lease, manage, and maintain investment properties in Colorado Springs, Monument, Castle Rock, Parker, and Aurora.

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