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The meaning for move-in condition can vary, but the term is most commonly used when dealing with rental properties like apartments. For rental properties, move-in condition refers to the state of a property when the tenant moves in. For property sellers or real estate agents, move-in condition means that the house on the market has been fully prepared and cleaned and is ready for the new owners to move in. This generally means that everything is in good repair, appliances are installed, and the dwelling has been professionally cleaned.
Tenants and landlords of business and residential rental properties should conduct inspections of the move-in condition whenever a new tenant moves in. By keeping track of the condition of the property at move-in time, a tenant can avoid charges for damage he did not cause, and a landlord can charge a tenant correctly for any damages caused by that tenant. When outlining the move-in condition of a property, a tenant and property manager fill out a move-in condition form. Information on this form includes notes about any damage already in the apartment, and often includes a detailed list of everything in the apartment so the condition each item can be noted.
The move-in condition inspection for a rental is the time to report things that need repair. A tenant inspecting a new property should take a close look at the inside and outside of all storage areas, walls, and appliances. Take note if any areas are left dirty or if anything is poorly installed in a way that might cause it long-term damage. Turn appliances on and off and make sure they work.
Taking photographs of the move-in condition while touring the property with the landlord is the best way to make a provable record of the move-in condition of the dwelling. Without record of damage in the dwelling when the tenant moved in, the tenant may end up being held responsible for costs related to damage he did not cause. Likewise, a landlord should take photographs of a dwelling when a new tenant moves in to avoid claims that damage was there prior to the tenant's arrival.
When moving into a property, it is important for the tenant to mark every damaged or dirty object, however small, to avoid being held responsible for it when he moves out. Take good photographs, and use the date and time function on the camera to correctly mark the date of move-in on the pictures of the property. Though most landlords are honest and simply want to protect their property, some bilk inattentive tenants by charging them for damage that other tenants already paid for.
I learned the hard way how important a property condition checklist can be. I rented an apartment one time in an older complex that was popular with college students because of its proximity to the campus. I wasn't expecting it to be in perfect move-in condition, but I did expect it to be safe and sanitary. The landlord showed me the apartment and we both filled out a tenant move-in checklist. The list of problems kept growing, and the landlord finally said he would reduce the monthly rent by $100 as long as I accepted the fact it was not in move-in condition.
I agreed to the terms, but the landlord dragged his feet for months on a lot
of the repairs listed on the rental condition form. I was afraid he was going to make it look like I caused some of the damage during my occupancy. When I did decide to move, a new landlord tried to claim I caused the damage to the dishwasher and the garbage disposal. I had to produce the original checklist to prove the damage was already done when I first moved in.
When we put our first house on the market, I had no idea how difficult it would be to get it into move-in condition. I thought we had it cleaned up well enough, but the real estate agent came in with an official property condition checklist and pointed out about a dozen things we would have to repair or replace before we could call it "move-in ready". A lot of these things were not visible, like some leaking pipes, but they could have caused some expensive damage soon after the new owners moved in.
I think we spent around $5000 to get all of those repairs made by licensed professionals, but our realtor also raised the asking price to
make up for those expenses. When the house finally sold, we still made a significant profit. I was willing to put it out as a fixer-upper, but my realtor assured me that getting it into move-in condition would be a better way to go in the long run.