A Move Out Checklist for Landlords and Tenants

Check out our move out checklist that both tenants and landlords can use during the transition process. Tenants can use this list as a step-by-step guide to clean, make repairs, and document the condition of the property. Landlords can use this guide to assess the property's condition, decide between normal wear and tear and damages, and prepare the unit for incoming tenants.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
June 3, 2024
A Move Out Checklist for Landlords and Tenants

When it's time to move out, landlords and tenants can both end up asking themselves questions. How much do tenants need to clean up a rental before they move out? What do landlords have to check for when assessing damage to the property? With a little effort and organization in the form of a move out checklist, move-outs don't have to be stressful.

For tenants, we'll outline the steps to clean and prepare the rental unit, increasing the chances of getting your full security deposit back. From notifying utility companies to scheduling a final walkthrough, we'll cover everything you need to do to leave your rental in top shape.

Landlords, we've got you covered, too. You'll find a detailed move out inspection checklist to assess the property's condition, which will help you distinguish normal wear and tear from damage, allowing you to make fair decisions about security deposit deductions and prepare the unit for new tenants efficiently.

With clear guidance and practical tips, this article helps eliminate any guesswork during the move out process.

Why do you need a move out checklist?

When a lease agreement comes to an end, there are a lot of moving parts. Tenants need to pack, clean, and arrange to move their belongings, and landlords have to make sure everything happens smoothly and that the integrity of the property is maintained. With so many things happening at once, a move-out checklist helps the tenant and landlord stay on the same page and makes sure nothing gets missed in the process.

The checklist serves as a comprehensive rundown of everything that needs to get done, protecting both parties and preventing misunderstandings during the move-out process.

Steps for move out

When moving out, having a structured move-out process in place will help ensure that you're leaving your apartment behind with all of your obligations fulfilled. Tenants should follow the following steps:

  1. Notify your landlord: Inform your landlord of your move-out date. How much notice you need to provide will depend on your lease agreement and state regulations.
  2. Contact utility companies: Cancel or transfer your utility services.
  3. Clean and make repairs: Use the move out checklist to clean all rooms and make minor repairs.
  4. Remove personal items: Clear out all personal belongings and trash from the property.
  5. Schedule a final walkthrough: Schedule a final inspection with your landlord or property manager.
  6. Return keys: Return all keys, garage openers, and access cards to the landlord.
  7. Document the apartment's condition: Take photos of the cleaned and emptied property for your records.
  8. Provide a forwarding address: Give your new address to the landlord for mail forwarding and the return of your security deposit.

The tenant move out checklist

Here's a detailed checklist for tenants to use to confirm that the rental unit is clean and that everything is working properly:

Cleaning checklist

  • Clean all appliances, countertops, cabinets, sinks and faucets.
  • Run and clean the garbage disposal.
  • Wipe glass surfaces like mounted mirrors.
  • Scrub and disinfect toilets, showers, and bathtubs.
  • Vacuum or sweep all floors and mop where necessary.
  • Dust and clean all surfaces, including shelves, entertainment centers, light switches, doorknobs, and handles.
  • Clean windows, window sills, and baseboards.
  • If applicable, clean any exterior areas like balconies, patios, and garages.
  • Remove all personal items, trash, and debris.

Repairs checklist

  • Patch holes, nail marks, and touch up paint on walls.
  • Fix broken tiles or floor scratches.
  • Confirm all light fixtures and ceiling fans work.
  • Replace burnt-out bulbs and repair damaged fixtures.
  • Check doors and windows for proper operation, fix broken locks or handles, and replace damaged screens.

The landlord move out inspection checklist

Landlords should complete a move out inspection with the tenant at the end of the lease. These inspections help prevent security deposit disputes and give you an idea of what it takes to get your property move-in ready. During the inspection, decide what is normal wear and tear versus what is property damage.

Landlords getting ready for the next tenants should do the following:

  • Inspect the property: Conduct a detailed inspection to document its condition before the tenant moves out. Note any damages beyond normal wear and tear.
  • Notify the tenant and collect keys: Provide the tenant with notice of their move-out requirements as per the original lease agreement and local regulations. Collect all keys, access cards, and any other access devices provided to the tenant.
  • Cleaning and repairs: Make sure to clean the property and address any damages or maintenance issues that need fixing before the next tenant moves in.
  • Return the security deposit: Prepare and return the tenant's security deposit as required by law, deducting any legitimate charges for damages beyond normal wear and tear.
  • Informing and screening any prospective new tenant: Advertise the rental property to find and screen new tenants. Inform the selected tenant about their approval, lease terms, move-in procedures, and any specific instructions.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of the move-out process, including inspection reports, repair receipts, and any communication with the tenant.

Nailing your moving out checklist

Having a solid, established move-out process benefits both tenants and landlords when a lease term ends. And, with the help of the checklists and guidelines provided in this article, handling move-outs will be easier than ever.

Tenants should take the time to clean, repair, and document the condition of their rental property before they move out. This goes a long way towards increasing the full return of the security deposit.

Landlords should prioritize the creation of a detailed move out inspection, accurately assessing the property's condition and making fair decisions regarding any repairs or deductions from the security deposit. This process also allows you to prepare the unit efficiently for the next tenants, minimizing vacancy periods.

By following these steps, you'll have a smooth transition, ensuring a positive and stress-free rental experience for both you and your landlord.

Move out checklist FAQs

Who do I notify when I move?

Notify your landlord, the post office, utility companies, and any relevant service providers.

Should you clean out an apartment before moving out?

Yes, you should clean the apartment before moving out to avoid additional charges and increase the chances of getting your security deposit back.

What do landlords look for in a walkthrough?

Landlords check for cleanliness and any damage beyond normal wear and tear. They also verify that all fixtures and appliances work correctly.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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