New-tenant checklist for landlords

By Zarah Mae Torrazo 02 April 2022 | 1 minute read

Preparing for a new tenant to move into your rental property? We’ve prepared the ultimate checklist to help landlords get ready.

 New tenant checklist for landlords

You did it! You rolled out an effective marketing campaign, held viewings, found some good tenants with a thorough screening process, and now you’re getting ready for them to move into your rental property.

Landlords who are new to the business may think renting out a property to a new tenant is as simple as handing over the keys and it’s all good to go.

In reality, moving in a new tenant involves a lot of work, as landlords must wrap their heads around several legal and functional obligations before it’s all A-okay. 

Having a checklist of things that must be addressed before the tenant moves in can help make the transition easier and ensure you do not miss any important steps. 

Additionally, a good moving experience for both tenants and landlords will set the tone for their business relationship down the road. 

To help ease the stress that comes with this process, we’ve put together a comprehensive tenant move-in checklist for landlords.

1. Notify the tenant

Before everything else, you need to lock in the tenant for the property so you can also take down the ads for the vacancy. 

Notify the successful tenant applicant by giving them a call. Inform them that you will begin to draw up the lease and also follow up with an email about the deposit that needs to be paid before the advertisements for the property can be taken down. 

When talking to the tenant, make sure that you also confirm the following details: 

  • The move-in date or the lease start date 
  • The lease length 

As for the other details, everything else should be as per your ad and their rental application.

While you have found the tenant for your property, it’s not yet a done deal until they have paid their deposit and the lease is signed. For good measure, it’s advised to set your rental vacancy ads to “under application” to keep the pressure on your new tenants and speed up the process.

2. Draw up the tenancy agreement

The rental or tenancy agreement is a legally binding road map that sets the rules and obligations for both you (the landlord) and the new tenant.

When properly done, the rental agreement can help: 

  • Protect landlords from liability
  • Avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts that may arise
  • Prevent any confusion over set rules or obligations
  • Provide a minimum set of standards and procedures that you and your tenant must follow 
  • Set expectations between you and your new tenant

Take note that it won’t be just you who will benefit from this. Most likely, your tenant will appreciate full transparency and they’ll like seeing that you’ve got your paperwork in good order.

It’ll generally always need to include a few certain basics:

  • Both names and addresses of signing parties 
  • The dates of when the lease begins and ends
  • How much rent is to be paid and the method of payment
  • Obligations and responsibilities of the tenant  
  • Obligations and responsibilities of  the landlord, including certain maintenance and repairs
  • Conditions under which the agreement can be terminated, including the notice period and other terms
  • Information about the type of tenancy (fixed agreement or periodic agreement)

Remember that each territory and state has its own regulations on tenancy agreements. To help get you started, we’ve provided the links here so you can download standard state-specific residential tenancy agreement templates:  

It’s generally recommended not to sign your part of the agreement until the tenant has signed and agreed to all clauses. You can fill it all out, except for your signature.

Another tip from experts is that should there be any concerns or issues that the property may not be ready for the new tenants to move in on the set lease start date, hold off on signing the lease. Otherwise, you might be liable to fine and shoulder the cost of separate accommodation for your new tenants.

3. Clean the property 

While drawing up the lease, you can also take steps to ensure that the property is all ready for tenants to move in. 

Do a quick inspection when the old tenant is leaving to see if things are in order. 

Most rental agreements indicate that the tenant has the responsibility to clean the property when they move out. If the property is untidy and the tenant won’t clean before vacating the premises, you’ll either have to clean it yourself or organise a cleaner to do it for you.

Typically, this cost will be shouldered by the previous tenant, but it will depend on how well you were covered in the tenancy agreement.

This step in the new-tenant checklist may seem inane, but some landlords still manage to overlook it. It’s important to turn over the property in perfect condition and presentable to the new tenants to avoid having business relationship issues from the get-go. 

4. Ensure that your property meets minimum safety standards

An important item to tick off your new-tenant move-in checklist for preparing to rent a property is to ensure your rental is fit to live in and will not cause any adverse health effects to tenants. 

Landlords can refer to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 to properly understand the minimum safety standards for rental properties. 

Generally, landlords are legally responsible for: 

  • Ensuring that the property complies with safety regulations, such as installing smoke detectors and locks on all windows and doors
  • Checking and ensuring all electrical installations are safe and free of danger (e.g. no loose wires or sockets)
  • All appliances should be in good and safe working order
  • Hiring a licensed electrician or gas fitter to conduct a safety check every two years
  • Tackle any potential health-threatening issues such as damp or mould
  • Ensure that the property has adequate ventilation 
  • Fit blinds or curtains on every window in the bedroom and living room

5. Inspect utilities and inform suppliers regarding the new tenant 

Checking if utilities – including plumbing/water, heating, and electricity – are operational and in good condition is another important part of a landlord’s new-tenant checklist. 

A leaky pipe will not only cause dismay to your new tenants, but it can cause expensive damage to your property in the long run. 

Once all utilities are safe, operational, and free from issues, notify your suppliers that tenants will soon be occupying the property.

Utilities become the tenant’s responsibility from the first day of the rental agreement. But remember that fixed property fees still fall under your financial responsibilities as a landlord and can’t be passed on. This includes water rates, strata levies, as well as council rates.  

An easy way to determine what utilities and bills your tenants will be responsible for is to view it like this: any service where there is an option of the utility provider is the tenant’s responsibility. This means that the internet, electricity, gas/heating, or landline costs will be shouldered by the tenant, and anything else is your responsibility.

But in some instances, utilities can be included in the weekly rent, so make sure to pay attention to this detail in your rental agreement.  

6. Make necessary repairs and renovations

After your current tenants move out of the property that will be rented out, inspect the condition of the real estate. 

If you note any damage that is beyond normal wear and tears, take the time to make the necessary repairs before the new tenants move in. After all, you want to start off on the right foot with your tenants. 

If possible, you should also complete renovations in between tenants so you don’t disturb tenants while they live there.

7. Do an entry condition report

As a landlord, one of your obligations is to conduct a routine inspection every six months or so. 

But what if during one of those inspections, you see a property with holes in the walls? And the worst part is, your tenant claims they didn’t do it and that it was like that when they moved in! So what do you do?

This is when an entry condition report becomes handy. It gives landlords a complete record of their property, including all contents and the state the rental is in, prior to tenant move-in, which will save you a world of stress should a dispute arise. 

Generally, the more robust the entry condition report is, the less room there is for disputes in the future. 

While this report is not a legal requirement to have, it’s a best practice that most landlords adopt. This will also make the move-in (as well as the move-out) process a lot smoother with minimal delays.

There are also standard state-specific condition report forms that landlords can use. Below are the links to guide you.

 8. Collect and lodge the bond

Bonds serve as a security deposit in the event your tenant fails to pay rent or causes damage to your rental property. While it’s not mandatory to collect a bond, it is highly recommended and most landlords choose to charge their tenants. 

A good time to collect the bond would be during the signing of the rental agreement. But you might be asking, how much bond can I charge my tenants? 

It’s important to note that there are varying laws and regulations depending on which state your rental property is located in. 

You can read about the rights and obligations of tenants when it comes to bonds on the following government websites for each state:

After the bond has been collected (and ideally, the lease has been signed), both the landlord and the tenant are legally bound to sign the bond lodgement form then lodge it on state-specific websites or mail it to the relevant rental bond authority within 10 days. 

9. Make sure the tenant has received all documents before moving in

You’re near the move-in finish line! Once all the legal documents have been signed and agreed upon, it’s now time to provide your tenant with all relevant items, receipts and documents. Remember that if you don’t provide copies of these, you’ll be in non-compliance according to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

At the start of every tenancy, a tenant should receive:

  • A copy of the signed tenancy agreement
  • A copy of the signed entry condition report 
  • The completed bond lodgement form
  • A copy of relevant by-laws if the property is in a strata complex
  • A set of keys to the property 
  • A new tenant checklist that includes issues, tasks, and information that should be addressed 

Aside from displaying your professionalism, it will also show your new tenants that you will keep accurate records of their future payments. As we’ve mentioned, setting the right scene from the start helps keep your tenant in line later on.

Also, don’t forget to take down the ads for the vacancy so you won’t have to get unnecessary calls and inquiries anymore! 

10. Welcome your new residents! 

Congratulations! It’s move-in day for your new tenants. Remember that moving can be stressful and overwhelming for many tenants, as not only do they have to pack and move all their possessions, but they’ll also have to buy a lot of new household items and settle into their new area.

As a landlord, this can be a good opportunity to kick start the relationship on a positive note. You can provide information packets to help them navigate their new neighbourhood and surprise them with a tenant welcome basket when they move in. 

Another upside is that this small investment is tax-deductible and will leave a good long-lasting impression on your tenants!

If you’re the new owner of a rental property, make sure to read our 10 top tips for first-time landlords

Disclaimer: The information provided is for guidance and informational purposes only and does not replace independent investment or financial advice, which we strongly recommend.  

Smart Property Investment provides Australian property investors with must-have insight, strategies and real-life experiences to help guide successful buying and selling decisions in the Australian property market.

Tune in to our podcasts covering a variety of topics related to the real estate market. You can also follow Smart Property Investment on social media: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

RELATED TERMS

Rental property

A rental property refers to homes or apartments used as dwellings for tenants.

Security deposit

Security deposit is an amount of money paid to a landlord, lender or seller of a property as proof of intent or fund for potential losses and damages.

Security deposit

Security deposit is an amount of money paid to a landlord, lender, or seller of a property as proof of intent or fund for potential losses and damages.

Tenancy agreement

A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and tenant that states their rights and obligations to the lease, such as the use of the property and the monthly rental payments.

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New-tenant checklist for landlords
 New tenant checklist for landlords
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