How to Prepare for New Tenants


As military families prepare for a PCS move, housing concerns become paramount, whether it’s looking for a new home or leaving their current one. For military homeowners who choose to become landlords, there will be many tasks needing your time and attention. Start with this checklist for homeowners preparing their home for new tenants! 

Credit and Background Check 

As a landlord, whether you rent to a military or civilian tenant, the most important baseline of preparedness comes from the proper screening of your tenants. There are a variety of online options for screening prospective tenants for both credit and background checks, but SmartMove is one of the easiest and most secure programs available. 

SmartMove eliminates the uneasy feeling landlords often have when requesting personal information from tenants, and allows all information to be securely submitted and reviewed through a personal online account. 

Legal Forms 

Once you have screened the perfect tenant, it is time to procure a legally binding document. MilitaryByOwner partners with US Legal Forms to make downloading state-specific legal forms as easy as a click. US Legal Forms offers both sale and lease packages that have been reviewed to ensure that each document complies with the laws of your state.

Military landlords are advised to include a military clause within the lease agreement, should you or your tenant need to change the terms of the document due to military orders. In addition to including a Military Clause, you should clearly state the conditions of occupancy, such as how and when you can visit the property, guidelines for making modifications to the property, and expectations for the care of the home and landscaping.   


The likelihood is that if it annoys you, it will bother your tenant, too. It’s easy to become complacent about the items that are inoperable or damaged around your home, but it is unreasonable to expect that your tenant will come to feel the same way about those issues. If you expect your tenants to take care of your home, then you need to lead by example. 

Take a tour of your home, room by room, and jot down the items that need repair or replacement and make sure that you check every item off that list prior to handing the keys over to the new tenants. 

Photos and Video 

Once the home has been thoroughly cleaned and repaired, take extensive photos or video to include walls, carpets, sinks, tile, showers, toilets, closets, doors, pools, landscaping, and kitchen appliances. This will provide documentation of the condition of the home prior to the tenants taking ownership.

If you’re unable to visit the property yourself, employ a friend, neighbor, or local real estate professional to take the photos for you. These pictures may prove to be useful should a dispute arise.  

Move-In/Move-Out Walkthrough 

You probably already understand the importance of a final walkthrough on a home purchase, but a walkthrough on a rental home is equally important. MilitaryByOwner has created a helpful walk-through checklist for homebuyers and renters

If you’re unable to meet your tenants in person for a walkthrough, send them a copy of the checklist which you filled out after preparing the home for occupancy, and then have your tenants fill out the same form once they move into the home. If there are any discrepancies between your checklist and the tenant’s, these can be addressed immediately as to avoid any future conflict. Again, keep a copy of the signed and dated checklist with your other legal documents so that you have it to refer to when the tenant moves out of the home. 

Owner’s Manuals 

This is a great idea for any homeowner, but as a landlord, the ability to provide your tenant with a well-organized binder of owner’s manuals, extended warranties, and even paint samples is invaluable. A simple three-ringed binder filled with plastic sleeves will make the organization and safekeeping of all manuals simple. Be sure to include the binder on the list of items provided to the tenant on the Move-In/Move-Out checklist, with a reminder that the binder must remain with the home upon vacancy. 


The landlord/tenant relationship is important to both parties. As a landlord, it is essential to take care of both your property and your tenants. When PCS crunch time arrives for military families, it is easy to let some items slide. Allow as much time as possible to properly prepare for your new tenants and under the "military housing" item on your list, be sure to add these items: 

  • Run credit and background check through SmartMove.
  • Obtain state-specific legal documents through US Legal Forms.
  • Repair or replace broken items around the house.
  • Take extensive photos or videos representing the present condition of the home.
  • Download the MilitaryByOwner Move-In/Move-Out Checklist.
  • Gather Owner’s Manuals, extended warranty information, and paint chips to create a binder for your tenant. 

Preparing your home for new tenants may be time consuming, but the time you spend now will pay dividends later when you reap the benefits of your investment.

Original article by Monica Schaefer, updated 2018 by Jen McDonald.