New Tenant Checklist for Landlords

The Essentials to Prepare for a New Tenant

Landlord going over checklist with new tenants in an apartment


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Welcoming a new tenant into your property can be a hectic experience, but preparing a checklist of issues that you must see to before your tenant can move in can make the experience less stressful.

Every landlord has different needs and different rules for her rental properties, and landlords must often meet different requirements under their respective state’s landlord/tenant laws. Customizing your list to your state can be helpful, but do your homework first so you're sure you understand your state's laws.

What Is a New Tenant Checklist?

A new tenant checklist is really nothing more than a series of bullet points itemizing tasks and issues that must be completed and addressed before a tenant can take possession of the property. The list can be used in several situations.

For example, you'll have to find new tenants for all the available rental units when you buy a new rental property. If a tenant's lease is about to expire and she's given notice that she's going to terminate the rental agreement, you'll have to find a new tenant to fill that vacancy. You'll have to search for a new tenant if you must evict someone because he's violated the terms of his lease agreement...and you must take legal steps to achieve that eviction.

What to Include

The exact contents of your new tenant checklist will depend on your specific procedures for screening tenants, how in-depth your lease agreement is, and the steps involved in having them move in. You can and should create a list that's unique to your rental property.

For example, your state might require that you provide a tenant with written notice that you've u received and deposited her security deposit. This should be included in your checklist if your state has such a requirement. You're not required to provide any lead paint disclosures to your new tenant if your property was built after 1978, so you can leave this item off your list if your building qualifies.

A general checklist can be broken down into five basic categories:

  • Steps 1-8: Tenant Screening
  • Steps 9-16: Lease Procedures
  • Steps 17- 19: Financial Considerations
  • Steps 20- 24: Preparing the Property
  • If Applicable: Any Extra Requirements in Your Lease or For a Specific Tenant

Sample New Tenant Checklist

Tenant(s) Name(s):________________________________________

Property Address:_____________________________________

Unit Number:_________________________________________

Move-In Date:________________________________________

1._____ Received Rental Application

2._____ Started a New Physical Folder for Tenant

3._____ Started a New Digital Folder for Tenant

4._____ Background Check Completed

5._____ Credit Check Completed

6._____ Received Employment Verification Form

7._____ Received Previous Landlord Verification Form

8._____ Made Copies of Back and Front of Tenant(s) ID(s)

9._____ Explained All Rules and Procedures to Tenant

10.____ Explained Emergency Procedures to Tenant

11.____ Tenant Signed Lease Agreement

12.____ Tenant Signed Lease Agreement Addendums

             __________________________Which Ones?

13.____ Date Lease Agreement Signed

14.____ Date Lease Begins

15.____ Date Lease Ends

16._____ Provided Tenant With Your Contact Information

17.____ Received Entire Security Deposit via Certified Method

             __________Date Security Deposit Received

18.____ Received Entire First Month’s Rent via Certified Method

       __________Date First Month’s Rent Received

19. ____Tenant Has Purchased Renter’s Insurance

20.____ Repaired Any Damage to Property

21.____ Cleaned Property

22.____ Tenant has Signed Rental Unit Condition Checklist

23.____ Changed Door Locks (If Applicable)

24.____ Transferred All Utilities to Tenant’s Name (if applicable)

            Utility:________ Date of Transfer:____________

            Utility:________ Date of Transfer:____________

            Utility:________ Date of Transfer:____________

If Applicable

1._______ Property Inspected for Certificate of Habitability

                ________Date of Inspection

2._______ Received Deposit to Hold Agreement and Necessary Funds

3. _______ Pet Addendum Signed

4.________ Pet Deposit Received

5.________ Lead Disclosure Warning Signed (For Property Built Before 1978)

6.________ Gave Tenant “Protect Your Family from Lead Paint” Pamphlet

7.________ Section 8 Paperwork Received

                     _________Spoke With Section 8 Case Worker

                    ____Y/N__ Section 8 Inspection Occurred ________Date of Inspection

                     __________Security Deposit Received From Section 8 Tenant

Date All Items Completed:___________________________

Signature of Landlord/Property Manager:_______________________

Welcome Your New Tenants

You're not done yet. Now it's time to take that all-important final step and officially welcome your tenants. It's not required, of course, but it's an awfully nice touch.

Consider doing so in a letter, including all pertinent information you've probably already covered but that a new tenant would really like at his fingertips. What's a good time for him to move in? If you haven't already done so, how can he go about moving utility services into his own name? Contact information for all service providers will also be greatly appreciated.

Tell him how and where he should pay rent, and how to reach you in the event of a maintenance issue or emergency. A burst pipe can't wait until morning. When is trash collection day? Where's the nearest service station or convenience store?

In other words, condense your own checklist into summary form with highlights your tenant will need as he settles in. And for your own sake, take a final picture of the premises before you turn it over to your tenant, so you have proof of the condition in which you delivered it.