Landlord Checklist for Tenant Moving Out

By Lorena Roberts on July 24, 2018

Owning rental property is no easy feat. Some people think that getting into real estate and having rental properties is one of the smartest ways to make money, but sometimes what they don’t realize is the amount of upkeep that goes into making sure your rental property is up to par. If you don’t keep your properties looking nice, it’ll be tougher for you to rent out again when your current tenant moves out. In order to avoid having to pump hundreds of dollars into “fixing up” your rental places after every tenant moves out, here’s a checklist for you to use if you have a tenant moving out.


1. Spackle all nail holes/patch drywall where it needs patching!

Requiring your tenant to spackle all the holes they put in your walls with their decor will save you a step when you have to go in and re-paint the place. It might not look really wonderful when they turn in their keys, what with white splotches all over the walls, you’ll appreciate that they took the time to spackle their own nail holes before you have to go in and put a fresh coat of paint on all the walls.

*Here’s a tip: have your tenant sand down their spackled spots as well. So when you come to paint, you can literally just slap a coat on, and move on to the next unit.

2. Clean the carpets!

Especially if your tenant has a pet/pets, you should suggest that they clean their carpets before moving out in order to avoid incurring extra cleaning fees. Renting a carpet cleaner from somewhere isn’t too expensive and it makes a huge difference in the overall look of the place. If you own a carpet cleaner, offer to lend it to your tenant for a weekend so they can help you spiffy the place up.

3. Replace any lightbulbs that have burned out.

Replacing lightbulbs can really be a pain for a landlord. Instead of spending your time putting new bulbs in every unit you own, have your tenant replace their own lightbulbs. It’s not terribly expensive for them to buy their own bulbs and, after all, they were the ones using the lights in the first place. Ensure that you’ve made it clear — lightbulb replacement is the responsibility of the tenant.

4. Any blinds/screens that have been broken, must be replaced.

It is the responsibility of the tenant to return the unit to you in the condition it was given to them. You probably had the walls painted, carpets were clean, and everything was working properly. If the tenant returns the unit to you in a condition other than pristine, you’re welcome to keep part of their security deposit.

If any blinds or screens have been broken, the tenant should be in charge of having those replaced. Be transparent about giving them the information they need to replace them — including where it’s cheapest to purchase those specific blinds, how to install them, etc.


5. Outdoor areas must be clean and clear of debris.

Returning a unit to a landlord with the outdoor area looking terrible is completely unacceptable. Make it known that you expect their patio to be swept, patio furniture to be removed, and mulch/plants to be kept up nicely.

6. Ceiling fans/air vents should be vacuumed out.

Ceiling fans are one of the things in a home that seem to get the dirtiest the fastest. If your tenant uses their ceiling fans on a regular basis, make sure they know those blades need to be wiped down or vacuumed. Additionally, air vents should also be vacuumed out to ensure air can flow properly.

7. Smoke alarms should be working properly.

If your tenant has messed with your smoke alarms, it’s completely unacceptable that they get away with getting their security deposit back. Tenants should ensure that all smoke alarms are working properly, batteries aren’t dead, and that they haven’t been tampered with before handing in their keys.

8. Plumbing should be clear of blockages.

Your tenant should be sure all plumbing is clear before they move out. If they need help unclogging a drain, be more than welcome to help. But having to go in and unclog every bathroom drain in your place before you find another tenant is just a pain. They should be responsible for ensuring the plumbing is working properly.

Remember that moving out is a stressful process. And if your tenant feels that they’ve been wronged by you, it’s going to be painful for them to make sure everything is up to par before they hand over their keys. If you rent to college students, getting them to clean will probably be similar to pulling teeth. You, as the landlord, must set your own expectations early on. Make sure the tenants know well ahead of time what is expected from them. When moving out expectations are laid out clear and simple, there won’t be any disagreement over who is responsible for what. If you only manage a few units, you’ll probably have more luck with negotiating the terms of moving out.

By Lorena Roberts

Uloop Writer
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Lorena graduated from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville last December with a BA in Honors Psychology. After some serious soul-searching, she's decided to pursue a Master's in teaching in order to teach middle school math! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Whippet mix, Gio, at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

Follow Uloop

Apply to Write for Uloop News

Join the Uloop News Team

Discuss This Article

Get Student Housing News Monthly

Back to Top

Log In

Contact Us

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format

By clicking this button,
you agree to the terms of use

By clicking "Create Alert" I agree to the Uloop Terms of Use.

Image not available.

Add a Photo

Please select a photo to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format