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Update Your Move-out Checklist

Move outMaybe it’s the high carbs, the beers used as bribes, or sheer exhaustion, but move-out time for tenants breeds temporary insanity. It’s a time when the quest for friends with strong arms or a pickup truck makes strange bedfellows. Things get left behind, other tenants get annoyed, and the landlord may get caught prepping the unit for the next tenant with no time to spare.

A move out checklist is the key to maintaining harmony, and to getting your property back on time and in good condition. Make sure yours is up-to-date:

Move-out Information

ChecklistA written checklist of procedures is the best bet to getting the results you want. Give the tenant the move-out checklist at lease signing, and go over it again when a tenant gives notice. Lay out the time lines. When, exactly, does the tenant have to be out? List the steps they need to accomplish to get their deposit back.

Forwarding Address

Don’t ever let the tenant get away without leaving a forwarding address. Be sure to note that address for future reference. That can make or break later attempts at debt collection.

Provide a Cleaning Checklist

As many landlords can attest, one person’s ‘clean’ is another’s nightmare. Supply a cleaning checklist for each room. If you are expecting the tenant to wash the windows, baseboards or clean underneath the refrigerator, you should say so. If you don’t want them plugging nail holes with toothpaste, especially the green and red minty kind, then say so.

Don’t have a cleaning checklist? Check out for room by room tasks and helpful cleaning tips: for example, dust before you vacuum, remove scuff marks on linoleum with a pencil eraser.

Modern Materials, Modern Solutions

Abrasive cleaners wreak havoc on granite. So can the popular citrus-y ones. Common grocery store wood floor cleaners can leave a waxy buildup. Some stain bamboo. Does the ceramic tile cleaner the tenant is using clean the grout in between? Your best bet for all of your floors may be diluted vinegar and warm water. But how much vinegar?

Tell your tenant how to protect your special finishes, or supply the Oven cleaningcleaners, labeled with instructions when the tenant moves in.

Provide oven liners, a cheap way to avoid the hardest item to clean – the oven. The extra time savings can be applied to cleaning other areas.

Don’t Forget the Exterior

Mowing and weeding are easy to neglect, but untidy landscaping or a dirty front door are the first things the new tenant will see.

Provide Phone Numbers for Services

Don’t want the couch or eighty bags of trash left on the curbside? Leave the numbers to call for special trash pickup. Have a special relationship with a carpet cleaner? Your tenant is tired, stressed and buzzing from caffeine. Leave them the phone numbers of providers so they can get the job done on time.

Gone Keyless?

KeysUpdate your checklist to reflect your upgrade to keyless entry. You’ll avoid the cost of re-keying the locks and the headache of having your keys delivered at 2:00 a.m. by installing a keyless system. But set up another way to assure your tenant will touch base with you before they leave.

Be a Help, Not a Hindrance

Encourage questions. Be available to help solve problems. Work together. Consider a small moving out gift. Good communication leads to a good relationship; the tenant will want to leave the place clean. Maybe they’ll even send you a referral or two!

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services related to your commercial housing investment including REAL ESTATE FORMS, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at

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