Documentation is the first step toward protecting the interests of all parties involved in rental transactions. The walk-through checklist is a great way to protect a renter and a landlord both when entering into a lease and when a tenant moves out. When it comes to using security deposits for repairs and cleaning, a checklist is a legal necessity.
The Walk-through Checklist
Here are 8 of the most important facets of a great walk-through checklist:
- Every space – bedroom, bathroom, dining, living and kitchen area – needs its own area on the list. Outbuildings, attached storage or utility rooms need their own space, too.
- Condition score notes can be a generic notation of condition, such as “good,” or detailed repair needs, but every feature needs a score.
- Each space needs custom feature condition scoring. A kitchen needs a list of all features and appliances. A bathroom requires scoring areas for the bathtub, toilet and sink, as well as lighting fixtures, walls, floors and doors.
- Bedrooms require closet and flooring condition inventories, in addition to the fixture, door, window and wall ratings.
- A general comments section allows for any notes not covered anywhere else on the form. This could include something like an odor or unknown pipe noise in the walls.
- Both the tenant and landlord should initial each page to indicate that the walk-through was done together and that both parties agreed to what’s written in the document. Wrap up with a full signature and date line at the end of the checklist.
- A stipulations page should include anything that can’t be verified to be in good working order during the walk-through, such as appliances, fireplaces and lighting fixtures. Those are items that you as a landlord are guaranteeing to maintain and repair, if need be.
- If both parties can’t be present, photos should accompany the walk-through checklist to document any damage that’s been noted in the comments. They should be full-color photos, and they should be in focus and clearly show the entire room in one shot, and the damage up close. Attach them to the form in a permanent fashion.