If you own or manage a rental property, then you know how important it is to make sure that the unit is left in the best shape possible after your tenant moves out. By conducting a thorough walk-through after the end of a lease, you can achieve just that! 

As a landlord, when you enforce a thorough walk-through after the end of a tenancy, you can be sure that you will experience less property damage and you will most likely find your property in better shape than it was before. 

These results are far more likely for a landlord who prioritizes walk-throughs of the property rather than skipping them. 

But why are walk-throughs so important? Walk-throughs of your rental property help to protect both you and your tenants. By doing this, you can identify any damage that may have been caused by your renter during the duration of their tenancy. 

You may give your tenants an opportunity to fix this damage, or you can deduct the cost of repairs from the security deposit that they gave you at the beginning of the lease agreement. 

These walk-throughs serve as a way to effectively keep your property in top shape as you change renters. You can even catch small maintenance issues early and fix them before they grow into larger, more costly repairs in the future. 

Exterior of a light blue apartment building with white doors and black iron balconies

How do you make your walk-through inspection as effective and beneficial as possible? While this task may seem daunting, it’s not as challenging as you think.

Below, we have provided a list of things to include in each and every walk-through tour to make sure that your rental property remains in the best shape possible, at all times.

1. Make a Rental Walk-Through Checklist

Before you begin your walk-through, you should create a checklist to follow. This allows you to stay on track and will prevent you from forgetting important things as you move through your inspection. 

Start by making a comprehensive list of every room in the home. Include the different components, appliances, and fixtures in each room. This will allow you to note the exact condition of each room and its features.

If you’re looking to save some time, there are many generic rental walk-through checklist forms available for download on the internet or available on property management software. However, it is just as easy to create your own. 

After you have listed each room on the rental property, you will want to divide the room into its main features. This will generally include things like the floors, walls, doors, sink, light fixtures, ceiling fans, appliances, etc.

Be as thorough as possible in this step! For example, in the kitchen, include each appliance that is featured. Allow space in each section for additional features that you may think of or notice later on in the inspection of the property. 

Person with pink nail polish using a fountain pen to write notes

On your form, include columns next to each item. This will allow you to make note of the move-in condition, the move-out condition, and the estimated cost should you need to repair, replace, or clean any damaged feature of the room. 

Creating a solid rental walk-through checklist is key to having a thorough inspection, staying focused, and remembering to check everything. At the bottom of your form, include signature spaces for both yourself and your tenants.

It is crucial to have the checklist signed by both the landlord and the tenants at the end of the walk-through. Your signed and dated rental walk-through checklist should be filed away and kept in your records.

2. Conduct Your Walk-through With Your Tenants

Before your tenant moves into your rental property, it is important to schedule a time for both you and your tenants (and anyone whose name appears on the lease agreement) to do a walk-through inspection of the rental unit together. This can achieve a couple of things!

First, doing your walk-through with your future tenants prior to their moving in can allow both you and your new renters to note the condition of each room of your rental property.

By filling out your rental inspection checklist together, room by room, you can ensure that all parties are on the same page regarding the condition of the property. 

Real estate agent showing a couple around a rental home

This can greatly reduce future potential disputes and miscommunications that commonly arise once a tenant moves out of a rental property. By beginning a new tenancy with an inspection, you can start to build a positive and mutually respectful relationship with your renters.

Second, these kinds of inspections can help you to properly communicate your expectations for the condition of the property with your new tenants. During a walk-through with your renters, you have the opportunity to cover everything that they need to know about taking care of the home and all of its features. 

This can be anything from telling your new renters how the oven can be properly cleaned, to explaining the differences between property damage and normal wear and tear.

By setting these expectations early, you are increasing the chances that your tenant will diligently care for and maintain the property, and you may even get the unit back in better shape than you found it. 

3. Keep the Walk-Through Process Simple

When you conduct your initial rental walk-through inspection with your new tenants prior to them moving in, it can be helpful to keep the process simple. Otherwise, the tenant may begin to second guess their decision to rent the property, as they may start questioning its overall condition and habitability. 

A property manager signing a lease in a house with a family of two adults and one child

Additionally, if you begin to over-document the condition of the property, then your tenant may be hesitant to move in at all, as they will get the impression that they will be held accountable for a small scuff on the floor or that you will withhold their security deposit unfairly. 

Ultimately, keeping your walk-through simple can help you give your new tenant a good first impression for both yourself and your rental property. Don’t forget, you want a new tenant to be excited to move in! An average rental walk-through inspection should take about 20 minutes. 

4. Take Photos or Videos of Any Damage 

Taking photos or videos of property damage or other noticeable problems during your walk-through tour can end up being extremely useful. Visually documenting your rental property’s condition should be a part of every rental property owner’s to-do list.

Most modern smartphones have fairly high-quality photo and video capabilities, allowing you to easily and thoroughly document your property’s condition. 

Start by taking a general picture of each room. Then, take clear, close-up photos of any damage that you notice during your rental walk-through inspection. If possible, try to include a date stamp on the photo.

Clearly label each photo you take of the property and make sure to back up any digital photographs that you take on a hard drive or cloud storage system. This will make it easy to compare to your initial rental inspection checklist and determine if damages are beyond normal wear and tear.

Person looking through settings on a DSLR camera

But how can visual documentation of your property’s condition help you in the long run? When you prioritize this aspect of your inspection, you can easily settle any disputes and miscommunications that may arise with your tenants.

For example, if you find a stain on your rental property’s carpeting that the tenant claims was present prior to them moving in, you can always go back to your photos or videos from the move-in inspection to double-check the claim. By using this strategy, you can reduce the number of disputes with your tenants. 

5. Conduct Your Own Inspection Before Your Tenant Arrives

Conducting an effective walk-through inspection of a rental property often takes more than just locating stains on carpets or water-damaged baseboards. It is essential to go through the property, looking at each and every detail, before your tenant even arrives. 

Taking the time to test all of your appliances, fixtures and features on the rental property can greatly reduce the number of problems that your tenant might find once they move in. This is crucial, as the first days of a new tenancy are the best time to build trust with your renter and build a positive relationship.

Before your tenant arrives, test everything! Run the dishwasher, test the air conditioning unit, flush every toilet, note the water pressure in the sinks and showers, and check to see if appliances are working. Open and close the blinds, and make sure every door and window is properly functioning. 

Person in a blue blazer talking on the phone

Be as thorough as you can! After all, figuring out that a faucet doesn’t work properly while your tenant is present can indicate to them that you don’t care about or take much interest in your rental properties. This can give a negative first impression of you to your tenant.

When you walk through the rental property with your tenant, go through this process again to show them that everything is in working order. By doing this, you are making sure that the tenant cannot claim later that “the window was always like that” or the microwave never worked at all. 

Finally, don’t forget to test everything again when you finish your final rental walk-through. It is never ideal to learn that the tenant damaged the fridge after you have already signed off on the property and returned your tenant’s security deposit. This can leave you with unfortunate and costly repairs. 

6. Give Your Tenants Time to Find Other Issues

Once your new tenant moves in, give them time to find any additional damage and report maintenance issues that you may have missed during your initial walk-through inspection. Generally, three days should be enough time. 

If your tenant discovers legitimate damage to the rental property that was present before they moved in, make sure to document it in writing and with photographs or video. By documenting this damage, you will have a clear record of it that you may refer back to once your tenant moves out. 

Happy couple packing moving boxes

Giving your tenant time to find additional damage can improve your relationship with your tenant and allow you to make early repairs that you may have missed. 

For example, the dishwasher may be able to turn on, but until your renter actually attempts to use it to clean a load of dishes, you may not be able to tell that the appliance does not drain properly. Or, a cabinet may seem to be in good condition until the tenant goes to put their dishes inside and notices damage. 

7. Get Familiar with Local Laws

Each state in the country has its own set of laws regarding what a landlord is and is not permitted to do when their tenants are moving in or moving out. These regulations can determine a wide range of aspects of your rental property.

This can include how much you are allowed to collect for a security deposit, what the funds of that deposit are allowed to be used for, and the timeline regarding your return of a tenant’s deposit or what is left of it. 

Landlord-tenant laws in each state will also often determine which repairs must be made by the tenant and which repairs must be made by the rental property owner.

These are elements that may be relevant in a security deposit dispute. When writing your lease agreement, it is important to clearly define any other responsibilities that you or your tenant may have regarding rental property maintenance and care. 

Three people standing together looking at a document

When preparing for a new tenancy to begin, it is crucial for every landlord to familiarize themselves with their local set of landlord-tenant laws. For example, understand when you can withhold a security deposit and when you cannot. If a landlord fails to do so, they may end up in legal hot water.

A tenant has the right to take legal action against a landlord should they violate state landlord-tenant laws. To prevent situations like these, working with a knowledgeable property management company can be extremely effective, as most property managers are extremely familiar with local and state laws. 


Now that you know exactly what it takes to conduct a thorough and effective walk-through, you’re ready to begin your inspections!

By using the tips we have provided in this post, you can protect yourself and your property from damage and costly repairs, in addition to starting a positive relationship with your new tenant.