As a landlord, you have the opportunity to make the moving process easier for your tenants by giving them a thoughtful tenant move-in package.
No matter how many times I move, I seem to forget how to function in a new place. Do I need toilet paper and cleaning supplies? Where do I park? Are there move-in rules? That’s a lot to keep straight when I’m also in the middle of hiring moving people (or begging my friends), arranging utilities, and forwarding mail.
My favorite part of being a landlord is creating a good experience for my tenants, which starts at move-in. Remember, being a landlord is a customer service job. If you have a great customer, you don’t want to lose them at the end of the lease.
From the first impression to the last, a landlord should have great communication skills and give their tenants a positive experience.
- First, the application process should be simple and straightforward. This can be accomplished with an online application, like the ones Cozy offers for free, plus clear criteria for requirements.
- Second, you should clearly outline the tenant screening process, so the tenant knows what to expect.
- Third, which is what we are focusing on in this article, is the tenant move-in packet. This is the first real impression you will make as a landlord. This is your opportunity to set your business relationship up for success.
What do I include in a tenant move-in package?
1. Informational binder
The most important aspect of a move-in package is the informational binder. In this binder, you provide all pertinent information the tenant needs to know.
- Utilities – Include the utilities and contact information.
- Parking – Is parking included? Is there an assigned spot? If it’s street parking, do tenants need a city sticker?
- Insurance – Provide information for renters insurance.
- Move-in rules – Include any move-in rules. Do tenants need to move in on a certain day of the week? Do they need to use a special elevator?
- Keys and codes – Include copies of the keys, any codes tenants need, and garage door opener (if they have a garage spot).
- Maintenance – Have a section on what maintenance requests are included and what would be an extra charge. Outline how tenants make maintenance requests.
- Payments – Explain the rental payments. When does a late fee start? How much is the late fee? Can tenants pay online? If they don’t pay online, where do they send their rent checks?
- Forms – Add a section in the binder with forms. Include forms on lease renewal, ending a lease, and—most importantly—a tenant move-in packet, including a move-in inspection sheet. Within five days of move-in, require the tenant to complete a simple move-in inspection form and turn it in. This is important for several reasons: one, any maintenance needs can be addressed immediately; two, the landlord has proof that the tenant agrees the unit is in its proper condition; and three, the landlord can better assess the cause of future maintenance needs.
The move-in binder does not have to be a physical binder. If you prefer digital, convert the “move-in binder” to a shared Google Drive folder that tenants can easily access.
A nice touch for move-in day is a small gift. Provide a gift card to a local restaurant with maps and brochures for local hot spots. A plant or bouquet of flowers is a nice welcome as well.
A gift is an opportunity to make a negative into a positive. I had a unit with no laundry in the building. As a move-in gift, I provided a gift card for a fluff-and-fold service that did laundry and dropped it back off. Landlords can write a portion of the gift off on their taxes.
3. Move-in kit
To make move-in day easier, provide a small move-in kit. The kit can be a gift basket with cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, air freshener, moving blankets (bonus: protects your floors), and a gift card for a local pizza place for a moving day meal. We suggest even providing bathroom essentials on move-in day.
Landlords have the unique opportunity to make moving an exciting and less stressful adventure. By providing some elements of customer service to your tenants’ move-in day, you start your relationship off on the right foot. Tenants know exactly what is expected of them, and they know the value you place on keeping the unit clean and well-maintained. Creating the perfect tenant move-in package is the beginning of a positive business relationship.