How to maintain – and even improve – your property’s value through move-in/move-out inspections

We’ve all heard inspection horror stories from property managers who arrive at a property after the move-out date only to find that the previous tenants left a nightmare of chaos and disrepair – you might even have a few of those stories yourself, though we hope not!

For tenants, cleaning up a property is an important part of garnering a positive reputation as a renter, as well as reclaiming one’s deposit. For property owners, even if tenants did spend time cleaning up the property before they moved out, there will always be repairs and refurbishments to handle. That work, and the time and manpower it takes complete, is still costly. What can be done?

We believe a carefully optimized and systematic approach to move-in/move-out home inspections are the key to keeping tenants and property managers accountable, as well as maintaining – and even improving – the overall value of the property between tenants.

Who Benefits?

-The answer is everyone!

A move-in/move-out inspection directly notates what tenants and property managers are responsible for, and effects how much of the deposit is to be returned upon the eventual vacation of the property. Anything outside of normal wear and tear will be the tenant’s responsibility unless notated on the move-in inspection form.

For landlords, there is more to tracking property upkeep than itemizing divots in walls and carpet damage. Inspection lists help property owners monitor things like HVAC repairs, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, mold and environmental maintenance, plumbing, and more.

What Constitutes Normal Wear and Tear?

Normal wear and tear are defined as the wear that would happen regardless of who lived in the property. Normal wear is the property owner’s responsibility and should not be at the cost of the tenant. It’s OK for the home to look lived in after the tenant leaves – minor scratches on floors, moderately worn carpets, and dulled fixtures, tubs, and toilets are to be expected. Anything that goes beyond that may be considered abnormal. Make sure to educate yourself by researching your state’s guidelines. The difficulty in defining normal wear and tear is part of what makes a move-in/move-out inspection so important.

Keeping Things Clean and Up to Date

Cleaning and renovations between tenants are critical for maintainingand potentially improving – a property’s value. Property managers can handle the maintenance and repair work themselves or hire a professional to do it for them. Cleaning should be focused on areas that wouldn’t normally get a lot of attention: underneath the dryer, washer, refrigerator, and stove; in and around the tub and toilet; and the carpets or floors of closets and pantries.

Proper maintenance ensures a stable and safe environment for new tenants and helps catch any maintenance or small repairs before they turn into serious issues or restoration projects. Between each tenant, property owners should schedule inspections to keep the home healthy, covering crawl spaces, attics, roofs, HVAC systems, and more.

We recommend these inspections be done by a professional with the experience and skill set to ensure nothing is missed.

Finally, property owners should take this opportunity between tenants and consider renovations that could increase a home’s value and rentability. A property that’s been well maintained and updated, with regular inspections between tenants, is a property that rents at a higher rate.

Creating a Rental Inspection Checklist

Creating an inspection checklist can seem daunting. Luckily, there are dozens of free resources on the internet for you to use and adapt. The checklist should be thorough, covering every room in the home in detail, and should be completed within the first week of the tenant moving in.

After your tenant’s occupation, the checklist will be used again to inspect the property and determine how much of the deposit will be needed for repairs and how much will be returned.

Sometimes, tenants will opt to take video and photographs of the property in addition to filling out the inspection checklist. Be sure to have those images and videos shared with you when the tenants submit their move-in checklist. Download those files to your device for security purposes avoid shared Google Drive or other cloud server.


Between each tenant resides the opportunity to increase the overall value of a property through efficient maintenance and frugal renovations. Property owners should use thorough inspection systems for tenants moving in, moving out, and the required maintenance in-between. Remember to hire knowledgeable, certified inspectors to reduce maintenance costs, key in on valuable renovation opportunities, and keep properties renting at their true value.

Benchmark Services Management Program is a comprehensive resource for property owners and property managers. Our experts monitor and optimize move-in/move-out inspections to protect your investment and your property’s occupants.