Rental Move-In Checklist: 8 Tips for Tenants
Moving to a new place can be a daunting experience, whether you're a first-time renter or a seasoned tenant. It's an exciting time filled with new opportunities, but it also comes with a long to-do list that can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
To help make your move as stress-free as possible, we've put together a comprehensive rental move-in checklist that covers all the essential tasks you'll need to complete before and after moving day. Whether you're moving across town or across the country, our checklist will guide you through the rental move-in process and ensure that you don't forget anything important.
The ultimate move-in checklist for renters
1. Inspect the property
Before you start unloading the moving van (or your friend’s pickup truck), it's essential to thoroughly inspect the rental property to ensure that everything is in good condition. This will help you avoid any disputes with your landlord when it's time to move out. Ideally, you should perform the inspection with your landlord or property manager present, and you should document the condition of the property in writing and with photographs.
Start by going room by room and making a detailed list of any damage, defects, or issues that you find. This includes things like scratches on the walls or floors, broken fixtures or appliances, and signs of pest infestations. You should also check that all of the utilities and appliances are in good working order.
Don't be afraid to be thorough and take your time during the inspection. If you find any problems, make sure to document them carefully and bring them to the attention of your landlord or property manager. Be sure to date and sign the inspection, and keep a copy for your records.
By taking the time to inspect the property thoroughly before you move in, you can avoid disputes and ensure that you get your security deposit back when it's time to move out.
2. Get renter’s insurance
Renters insurance is a layer of financial protection unique to tenants, or those who are temporarily renting an apartment, condo, home, or other living space. This includes protection from fire and smoke damage, vandalism, theft, or some weather-related incidents.
While not mandatory by law, some landlords may require tenants to have renter’s insurance. This requirement is likely outlined in your lease agreement.
Regardless of the requirements, it’s a good idea to hold a renter’s insurance policy, as your landlord is not liable for your personal belongings. Renters insurance is also affordable — costing about $15 per month on average.
While it depends on the carrier and policy, typical renters insurance includes coverage for:
- Personal belongings
- Repair expenses
- Liability or damage to the property
- Medical payments
- Some weather-related incidents
Learn more about renter’s insurance in our blog post 5 Benefits of Renters Insurance.
3. Set up your rent payment method
Your lease agreement should specify how and when rent is due, as well as any late fees or penalties for missed payments. Many landlords and property managers offer online payment options, which can make paying rent more convenient and efficient.
If your landlord or property manager offers online rent payment, be sure to set up a profile and link your bank account. You may also have the option to set up automatic payments, which can help you avoid late fees and ensure that your rent is always paid on time.
If your landlord or property manager does not offer online payment options, be sure to determine the best way to pay your rent and set up a reminder system to ensure that you don't miss any payments. Or if you’d prefer to pay rent online through Azibo, invite your landlord to join.
4. Sign up for utilities
Don't forget about utilities! Get any services that aren't included in your rent up and running and set up autopay to avoid any mishaps.
Utility expenses include water, sewage, electricity, gas, and trash removal, typically paid on a monthly basis. Landlords can choose to pay for utilities and build the costs into rental rates, or pass these expenses on to their tenants. Before you move in, ask your landlord to confirm which utilities expenses you’re responsible for.
5. Establish landlord communication channels
Find out who to contact to address any concerns, questions, or repairs needed throughout the lease term. It’s good practice to report any maintenance issues as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the rental property. Some landlords and property managers might require specific forms or methods, so double-check how they prefer to be contacted.
6. Set up your snail mail
Snail mail is still a thing! Find your mailbox and get a key if needed. Don't forget to let your employer and subscription services know about your new address. If you're worried about lost mail, submit a Change-of-Address form online with the United States Postal Service. For a small fee, USPS will forward any mail to your new address and you can extend the service for up to 18 months.
7. Get informed about local transportation
If you’ve moved to a new city, familiarize yourself with the public transit system. If public transit will be your main mode of transportation, get yourself the appropriate transit pass or download the necessary app to your phone to make your commute as seamless as possible.
If you own a car and are utilizing street parking, make sure you are aware of restrictions or services that may affect your street (sweeping or snow plowing) and acquire a permit if one is needed. If you’ve moved to a new state, schedule a DMV appointment to register your car and obtain a new license.
8. Prepare for emergencies
Some municipalities or counties have emergency alert systems to inform citizens of potential hazards such as extreme weather or road conditions and threats to public safety. Research what’s provided in your area and sign up. You can usually find information on your local county website.
If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters such as wildfires or hurricanes, it's a good idea to be prepared should you be required to shelter-in-place or evacuate. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends creating an emergency supply kit that includes items such as water, non-perishable food, a first-aid kit, flashlights, and extra batteries. You can find more information on emergency preparedness from FEMA at their website.
As a precaution, locate your nearest hospital or urgent care center so you know where to go should you find yourself in an emergency situation.
Use a rental move-in checklist for a stress-free move
By following this moving checklist for renters, you can ensure that you have all your bases covered — from inspecting the property to setting up utilities and communication with your property manager. Remember, taking the time to plan and prepare before your move-in day can help to alleviate stress and ensure a successful move. So take a deep breath, follow these tips, and enjoy your new home!