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A move-out checklist is a must to ensure a smooth process for you and your tenants when they move out. We have put together a list of move-out instructions for tenants to help you reassess whatever processes you currently have in place and so that you can prepare the property without a hitch for the next tenant. We have also included some suggestions on handling smart home tech once the property is vacated.


Your Standard Move Out Checklist 

Every checklist is different depending on specific aspects of a property and your specific needs. But there are basic procedures to follow to make the process of moving out as less stressful as possible for you and your tenants. The checklist provides instructions on what tasks and procedures a tenant must complete and in what condition they should leave the property before they vacate. 


Your move-out instructions for tenants should be included as an addendum or rider in the original lease agreement. This will minimize security deposit issues and the risk of property damage as well as related repair costs. It will also give you some legal recourse in case a tenant does not fulfill their contractual responsibilities. 


Your tenant should provide you with sufficient notice that they intend to move out; how much notice they’re supposed to give will depend on local landlord/tenant laws. You can specify in the lease agreement how you want the notice to be delivered, e.g., via a written letter or an email. 


Here’s a sample standard move-out checklist items. Of course, you can customize the checklist according to your property’s specific needs, as well as your own. 


  1. Contact the landlord via call or text X days prior to moving out to schedule an inspection of the property.
  2. Property must be swept clean, mopped, and vacuumed.
  3. Any/all carpets must be vacuumed and cleaned.
  4. All windows must be cleaned.
  5. Kitchen(s) and bathroom(s) must be clean.
  6. Walls must be cleaned, holes patched, and painted the same color as before tenancy began (unless otherwise stated, in written permission from the landlord).
  7. If applicable, all exterior areas should be cleaned and cleared of debris.
  8. If applicable, lawn and landscaping should be left presentable.
  9. All personal possessions and belongings must be removed.
  10. Do NOT leave garbage at the curb or in the unit.
  11. All kitchen appliances, window treatments, phone jacks, and other accessories that came with the unit, must be left behind.
  12. All-electric systems must be working correctly.
    1. All light fixtures with working light bulbs; 
    2. All heating
  13. All plumbing must be free of any leaks or blockages.
  14. All smoke and carbon monoxide alarm(s) must be in working condition.
  15. Leave all utilities turned on until the move-out inspection is completed.
  16. Make the landlord aware of any damage or issues inside the rental unit.
  17. All keys shall be returned during the inspection.


At the bottom of the checklist, you should include the following additional stipulation similar to:


All of the items mentioned in the above checklist must be completed prior to your move-out inspection. Your full security deposit will be returned (less any withholding from earlier tenancy) once the landlord has determined that you have fulfilled your move-out obligations, as stipulated in your lease agreement. Your security deposit will be sent via mail within 30 days of your move-out inspection to the address you will provide the landlord. (In case no new address is given, your security deposit will be mailed to the current mailing address and forwarded by the Post Office to your new listed address.)


Should there be any repairs, repainting, cleaning, trash removal, and other expenses needed to restore the property to its original condition, the costs will be deducted from your security deposit. If additional money is required to restore the property, the landlord will send you a bill and file a legal suit for the said money in court (when necessary).  


To guarantee that you will receive your full security deposit after moving out, make sure to deliver the property in its original condition prior to your tenancy. 


This section of the lease agreement should be signed by all tenants who are signatories to the lease agreement.


Additional Instructions and Reminders for Handling Home Automation Features

If the property is equipped with home automation technology, you’ll want to add a section about the proper handling of all smart home features. The most important procedures that should be included in a tenant’s move-out checklist are as follows. 


  • Making a complete inventory of all smart devices, including instruction manuals, customer support contacts, and any other items pertinent to the smart home setup. This will help tenants make sure that all devices are accounted for, and new tenants will have directions and information available to set up the system as they desire. 
  • Disabling all administrative and user access for all devices through a complete factory reset will ensure that all tenants’ personal information will be deleted. This will allow new tenants to set each device according to their needs without old data getting in the way. Depending on the device, there may be specific instructions on how to do a disconnect and reset. The instruction manuals or vendor website will have this information. 


As smart as these tech automations are supposed to be, resetting them may not always work as expected. For example, your previous tenants may still receive notifications from your property’s smart home system despite completing the disconnection procedure. Or they may still be able to control the property’s smart locks from their smartphones. 


To make sure that all devices have been properly disconnected and all access is revoked, call the manufacturer to get verification and take the necessary steps in case of any unexpected system glitches. 


Final Thoughts

With a carefully devised move-out checklist, you can ensure an efficient and problem-free process. Of course, you will encounter your share of problematic tenants, and when you do, having attached a move-out checklist rider to the lease agreement will provide you some level of protection against liabilities. Especially when your property is equipped with smart home automation, having a thorough checklist will help you ascertain that the system’s security is intact.


Michelle is a veteran writer specializing in technology, finance, business leadership, and a broad range of other topics. When she isn't tapping at her keyboard, Michelle can be found hiking the Colorado Rockies with her dog, SCUBA diving anywhere there's salt and sand, or curled up with a good book and cat at her side.