The purpose of a tenant checklist is to document the condition of the property when the tenant moves in. It allows comparison to the condition of the property when the tenant moves out. The tenant checklist provides protection for both the tenant and the property manager. Failure to prepare a tenant checklist properly can open either party to future false claims by the other party.
The checklist is a general inventory of the rental property, often comprised of two sections. One section focuses on each room while the other section focuses on the furnishings. The intention of the room section is to note any defects, such as broken windows or stains on the carpet. The furnishing section itemizes all the furnishings on the property, such as beds or lamps. If it is a vacation rental, the list might itemize dishware and linens.
The tenant completes the list, noting any defects or missing items, before taking occupancy. Ideally, the property manager accompanies the tenant while the tenant inspects the property and completes the checklist. For the tenant’s protection, he should note any defect he discovers during the inspection, even if the checklist has no section for the specific item. After completing the list, both the tenant and property manger should sign and date the checklist and each should receive a copy. For added protection, the tenant or property manager might opt to take photographs of the property as of the move-in date to include with the checklist.
After the tenant packs up and moves, yet before she turns in her keys, she should accompany the property manager for a second inspection to compare the current condition of the property with the move-in condition. During this inspection the tenant and property manager refer to the original checklist. While checklist forms vary, they typically include a space to note the condition before the tenant moved in, and when the tenant moved out.
The checklist provides evidence for both the tenant and property owners. If a window is broken when the tenant moves out, and the initial checklist didn't note that, the property owner can use the checklist as evidence when claiming the security deposit to repair the damage. For the tenant, the checklist protects him from charges for problems that existed when he moved in.