The completion of a move-in inspection is a document with serious legal ramifications. Without a complete and executed move-in inspection form, management has no documentation to show the condition of the apartment at the time of move in.  An executed document shows the resident accepted the condition of the apartment with whatever notated findings.  There are also several methods to insure return of the move-in inspection. [We recommend using AOA form 131, the Move-In / Move-Out Inspection Checklist which can be found at www.aoausa.com  Have your new tenant sign the form at the time of the inspection and return a signed copy to them.] 

The Move-In Inspection

The move in inspection is completed with the resident by management immediately following the lease signing.  Both parties sign off and the document is complete.

Companies that allow a longer period of time might retain the mailbox key requiring return of the move in inspection before the mailbox key is issued to the resident.

Scheduling a follow up visit to insure completion of any additional repairs can create positive customer service.  The resident should be able to anticipate a response from the management company for any items documented on the move in inspection.

Are the items reflective of wear and tear from the previous resident or are there repair items to be completed? 

Include Your Maintenance Team

Including maintenance team members in the move-in process for the inspection and orientation can provide a number of benefits. The maintenance team receives first hand feedback on the condition of the apartment home – preferably positive, but in the instances that a resident points out a repair or cleaning item that was overlooked, the experience [of having the maintenance person present] will create an impression that will insure the item is not likely to be overlooked in the future.

Maintenance can explain the operation of the thermostat, heating or cooling systems, and electrical features, such as outlets that are controlled by wall switches.  Including maintenance staff for the move in inspection can eliminate the need to schedule an appointment for any repairs.  Small, minor repairs can be resolved instantly. 

Be Sure to Get a Signed Move-in Inspection Form

The underlying symptom is the failure to monitor a review of move-ins after the lease has been signed.  Missing documents, errors with lease dates and missing signatures are not identified until a legal procedure is in process.

The new move-in is cited for unpaid rent, only to find that the items on the move-in inspection have not been repaired. Attempting to document charges for damages at the time of move out is inconclusive because the move in inspection was not returned.

Best practices install a process to audit the documents following a move in.  In the maintenance call back, should be a function to contact new move-ins to make sure all items were repaired, and offer the opportunity to add to the inventory if anything additional has been identified.

Recognizing the occasions that maintenance and housekeeping prepare a defect free move in, offers an opportunity to stress the importance of this document and the function of the move in inspection to the portion of the team that may not understand the impact and ramifications of this document. 

“Here’s Your Form” – The Response to a Move-Out Notice

The phone rings, upon answering we learn a resident wants to give a move out notice.

The standard response usually includes a question about when their lease actually ends, quoting either the 30 or 60 day lease termination notice and/or the lease break policy with a closing remark that the notice must be in writing and include the forwarding address to comply with state/local security deposit laws as well as lease compliance. Not exactly, a fond farewell to a valued resident. 

The Move- Out Notice Policy

A proactive lease management program has the opportunity to give managers some insight into resident’s intentions for their future housing plans. Too many times, management staffs sell themselves short when the move out notice option is discussed. What are the services used by this resident at your property? 

  • ·         services lost with a move-out notice
  • ·         after school latch key programs for children?
  • ·         evening or weekend social activities?
  • ·         concierge service for packages delivered when the resident is away from home.
  • ·         dry cleaning pick up or delivery
  • ·         emergency maintenance service 

Taking five minutes to talk with someone about their decision to move could influence and even change that decision. Residents may be surprised, belatedly, to learn many of the conveniences they appreciated and utilized at your apartment community are not offered at other properties. If we don’t take the opportunity to inform them, the resident might believe, “If I have that service here, it’s probably available elsewhere.” 

Are They Renting a Single Family Home?

For individuals deciding to rent or purchase single family homes, the aspect of carefree living, no maintenance repairs, no lawn work, no snow removal, and emergency maintenance that is available 24/7 should be talking points. 

Move- Out Notices Can Be Prevented

Communicating with your residents throughout the year can assist you in the lease renewal process. Providing information early in the decision making process could secure the renewal for you.

Handing a resident the form to document their intention to move, without a question, certainly creates impression that the leasing staff doesn’t care if the resident renews or moves. Don’t assume the decision is made. Ask the question “Have you made a commitment on a new place to live? Is there anything we could do to have you reconsider this decision to give your move- out notice? We’d love to have you renew.”

Asking a question could reward you with a lease renewal…but you’ll never know if you don’t ask. 

Lori Hammond has been in the property management business for over 30 years, after starting as a part time leasing consultant. She has worked with some tremendous industry leaders such as Oxford Management, NHP Management, AIMCO, Alliance Residential, Boston Capital, The Sterling Group, P.K. Housing and currently Management Resources Development.  For more information, visit her web site at www.propertymanagementminutes.com