You spent a lot of time on the screening process, carefully selecting a qualified resident who is the best possible fit.
Don’t throw that investment of time, money, and energy away by discounting the importance of the move-in process.
After all, it sets the tone for the entire resident experience—and it’s about much more than just collecting rent, handing over the keys, and then bolting. A good property manager sets expectations and ensures the new resident feels knowledgeable about the property.
A thorough move-in process benefits both the owner and the resident. How? It forestalls issues because it clearly delineates resident and owner responsibilities. This may seem obvious, but at Haven Homes, we’re often engaged to take over property management from other companies. Sometimes, the residents don’t even know the basics like how/where to pay rent or who to call in an emergency, let alone fully understand things like HOA rules. In addition, documentation is often practically non-existent.
So, what can you do to ensure a resident’s tenure is smooth from the very start? Here are our tips:
- Begin laying out expectations during the showing of the home and then reiterate those expectations during the screening process and while conducting the move-in.
- The property manager should arrive at the house 30-45 minutes prior to the resident’s arrival to make sure everything is in good working order. This is the time to check windows, faucets, appliances, blinds, and more.
- Don’t rush. A thorough move-in should take anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half to walk through the entire house properly, demonstrate the functionality of the house to the resident and photo document the condition using a prepared room-by-room checklist. Anything less, and the resident will not get the full experience, which means the property owner may not be fully protected.
- When the resident arrives, begin with a walk around the home’s exterior. Explain what the resident is responsible for and what will be taken care of by the property owner, such as landscaping. Will the resident need to mow the grass and trim the shrubs? Or will the owner take care of this responsibility? This should also be outlined in the lease. Explain any parking considerations, especially regarding guest parking if applicable. When is trash picked up? Are there any restrictions on the number of trash cans and how long they can be out?
- Moving inside, the property manager should perform another run-through, room-by-room, with the resident. Show and explain how appliances work; where the fuse box, heater, and air conditioner are located and how they function; clarify what’s the resident’s responsibility and what’s the owner’s responsibility. Also, be sure the resident is clear about who to call if they have further questions or an unexpected issue comes up.
- At the end of the move-in, have the resident sign off on the move-in checklist, then email all parties a digital copy of the checklist along with the photos. This provides proof that you and the resident agreed on the results of an extensive inventory detailing the state of your property. It also ensures you can hold the resident accountable for damages and reduces the likelihood of security deposit disputes upon move-out.
- Follow-up with a resident welcome letter via email or snail mail. Both are friendly ways to welcome your residents to the property.
At Haven Homes, we often say we approach management from an owner mindset, and a thorough move-in process forestalls issues because it clearly delineates responsibilities. This may seem obvious, but after countless take overs, we often find that the property owner’s real estate investment is not being managed up to our standards.
Does your property manager hit all the marks or do they subscribe to the “flee and here’s the key” approach? Download our Rental Property Management Scorecard to find out, along with other potential red flags.
Of course, we’re always happy to talk more, either over email, on the phone, or in person. Please get in touch if we can answer any questions for you.