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An Ultimate Checklist for Landlords With Tenants Moving Out

living room with white couches
This checklist provides instructions for the tenant on the procedures and the tasks they need to complete when they vacate your property.

Although all property investors strive to keep it to a minimum, tenant turnover is part of the deal. When it’s time for tenants to turn in the keys, do you have a process in place that protects your investment? 

Your goal is for your tenants to leave your property in move-in-ready condition. This is one way you can protect your investment and maximize your profits. Help your tenants help you by providing a tenant move out checklist.

Not sure what you should include on the checklist?

We’ve put together a short guide to help you create a checklist that works for your unique property management needs. We’ll go over several key items on any move out checklist and then talk about a few miscellaneous details. 

Tenants Should Clean the Carpets

If your Lease Agreement doesn’t have a tenant responsibilities clause that outlines tenant obligations regarding carpets, consider revising the document before your next tenant moves in.

A tenant should know when they move in that they bear the responsibility for carpet cleaning on move-out. Most tenants will take better care of carpeting for the duration of the lease when they know they must pay for cleaning.

Make sure your document clearly states professional cleaning, not tenant’s own carpet cleaning machine. Tenants should provide proof of payment prior to moving out.

No Garbage Left Behind

With the stress and excitement of moving, it’s not uncommon for tenants to forget a few things when they take the last load of belongings. Unfortunately, sometimes what they forget is garbage—literally.

Be sure you include verbiage in the tenant move out checklist regarding trash removal. No trash inside the property, and nothing left at the curb. Don’t get stuck footing the bill for junk your tenants leave behind.

Although a tenant’s personal belongings aren’t considered trash, if left behind, you’ll end up paying for disposal. Include instructions about personal property left at your on the checklist.

A Fresh Furnace Filter

Hopefully, you included this in your Lease Agreement, but if not, changing furnace filters is absolutely a tenant responsibility.

When you perform the move-out inspection, you should find a brand new furnace filter installed. If you don’t, you can deduct the cost of the replacement filter from the security deposit. 

Things Tenants Should Leave Behind

Most tenants only take their own personal belongings when they move. However, for the few tenants who need reminders, certain items must stay on the property. Things tenants should leave behind include:

  • Lightbulbs and Light Fixtures
  • Window Blinds
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Alarms

Wondering why alarms appear on the move-out checklist?

If you’re a property manager in Seattle, you must provide working smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector for your tenants. Tenants change the batteries and perform routine cleaning to the alarm unit. That doesn’t mean they can take the alarm with them when they move.

If tenants understand you’ll charge them for missing alarms, they won’t take them.

Where Are the Keys?

Even if you plan to install new locks after a tenant leaves, you should still collect all keys, including copies made by your tenant. Besides door keys don’t forget about the following keys (when applicable):

  • Backyard Shed
  • Garage Doors
  • Gate
  • Sprinkler System

In your checklist, make clear that keys must be turned in before you perform your final move-out inspection.

Don’t Forget the Remotes

Generally, the only remote you’ll worry about is the one for the garage door. That’s probably the one most likely to disappear with the tenant. After all, the remote stays in their vehicle and it’s easy to forget it when moving out.

Make a point of including the garage remote in the rental move-out checklist. A replacement isn’t usually expensive but if you end up replacing it, you should deduct the cost from the tenant’s security deposit. Consider changing the codes on the remote before you rent the property again.

Don’t forget about remotes for ceiling fans and AC window units. This is another item you can replace, but why add one more task to your own to-do list?

Move Out Inspection Reminder

To avoid misunderstandings about final inspections, include instructions on the move out checklist. Most landlords won’t do a final inspection until the tenant is completely moved out. Cleaning should also be complete before the inspection.

Provide your telephone number on the checklist form as well. If that seems like redundant information, remember how chaotic things can get at move-out time.

If the tenant has the moving out checklist in hand, with your contact information, you’ve just made their move a little easier. 

A Few More Tenant Move Out Checklist Items

Even though it’s not your responsibility, you can help your tenant by reminding them of a few things they might not think about when in the throes of packing boxes. 


Remind the tenant about requesting final bills for any utilities in their name. No one wants to move out and continue paying for utilities.

Utilities include things like landline telephone service, cable, and internet. If a tenant moves without letting the cable/internet company know, it makes it more difficult for your new tenant to set up their service.


Tenants should set up their forwarding address with the post office before they move. The U.S. Postal Service makes it easy for people to request a change of address. Your tenant can either drop the post office or do it online.

Unless you plan on holding your tenant’s mail, let them know anything received in the mailbox after they move, goes in the trash.

Final Comments

The point of providing a tenant move-out checklist is the protection of your investment. A checklist can also protect the relationship between you and your tenant. If you’ve had an excellent working relationship throughout the rental period, why ruin it with misunderstandings at move-out?

If you’re an aspiring landlord and need information about property management, please contact us. We’ve helped clients since 2009 and would love a chance to share our expertise with you.