Tenant Move Out

Tenant Move Out

Tenant Move Out

For most landlords, preparing for a tenant move out is something that is often overlooked. After all, it is far more exciting on move-in day and easy to assume your tenants will stay forever. But the truth is, all tenants come and go. Although hanging on to your good tenants forever would be nice, the reality is they leave some more quickly than others. And, when they do, having proper procedures in place for returning the security deposit, can mean the difference between a successful tenant move out, and one that is not.

So, whether you are trying to classify wear or tear vs damage during the walk-through or deal with a security deposit dispute, your goal is to make the experience as straightforward as possible. To do so, all it requires is a little bit of up front prep work to be successful. With this in mind, we offer some insight on how to streamline the tenant move out process. 

Move-In/Move-Out Inspection Checklist

Believe it or not, you should start prepping for a move out before your tenant moves in! You can do this by providing your tenants with a Tenant Information Letter during move-in. This document provides your tenants with the requirements during a move-out, as well as your expectations for giving proper notice. Additionally, the Move-In/Move-Out Inspection Checklist should always be completed upon move-in. That’s because it helps to establish a baseline condition of the rental unit when tenants are moving in. This same detailed checklist is what you will use to evaluate the rental’s condition on move-out. And, to calculate appropriate charges, if any.

Tenant Move Out

Tenant Move Out Information Letter

The Move-Out Information Letter can help you end the relationship on a positive note. Use this letter to thank your tenants for making your rental their home. And, to provide them procedures on how to prepare the unit for the final move-out inspection. By setting them up for success, you can avoid security deposit disputes. After all, this type of dispute is the number one reason people go to small claims courts. For this reason, always provide your tenants with a Move-Out Information Letter.  

Tenant Move Out Walk Through

The best way to determine the current condition of your rental, is to inspect it as soon as possible. We recommend that you do the final walk through with your vacating tenants. Because doing so resolves issues that can later become contentious enough for small claims court.

Defining Normal Wear and Tear vs Damage

Normal wear and tear is the physical deterioration that occurs with normal use of the rental property. Normal wear and tear generally excludes a tenants’ or their guests’ negligence. This includes carelessness, accidents, or abuse of a rental property. What normal wear and tear is or is not, can often be difficult to define. For this reason, we offer some examples on ordinary wear and tear versus damage:

  • Ordinary Wear & Tear vs Damage: faded paint is ordinary wear and tear and drawings, or crayon markings on walls is damage
  • Ordinary Wear & Tear: carpet faded or worn thin from walking
  • Excessive Damage: holes, stains, or burns in carpet, food stains, pet urine stains
  • Ordinary Wear and Tear: scuffed varnish on wood floors from regular use
  • Excessive Damage: chipped or gouged wood floors, or excessive scraps from pet nails

Avoiding Security Deposit Disputes

After you inspect your rental unit to determine the proper charges (if any). The next thing you should do, is prepare a Security Deposit Itemization Form. Generally speaking, a landlord can only hold deposit monies for actual damages, material or financial. In other words, a landlord can deduct money to cover past due rent, or for damages beyond normal wear and tear (as in excessive). 

This includes charging for any cleaning or repairs that are necessary to restore the rental until to its original condition. Additionally, keeping records of the condition of the rental property with checklists, photos, and videos can help resolve issues. That’s because most disputes over security deposits come down to what constitutes normal wear and tear.


Don’t just assume that your tenants are familiar with proper move-out procedures. Instead, have a proactive plan that involves your tenant in the process of preparing your rental for the next tenant. As a landlord, your goal is to make the move-out experience as straightforward and painless as possible. If you are struggling with move-out procedures, you may want to consider hiring a property management company.

Our property management services can be tailored to your needs and include leasing, consultation, and monthly management services. From North County San Diego to Downtown, we manage all types of rental properties throughout San Diego including homes, condos, multifamily such as duplex and triplexes, and even small apartment buildings. Let us manage your rental properties, so you can enjoy your life! Call us today at (858) 576-2176, we will save you time, money, and the stress that comes along with managing your own rentals.