Last week we discussed the importance of qualifying your tenant. Now it’s time to move the tenant in which brings to light another important procedure to protect your investment. That is the MOVE-IN INSPECTION. This is a vital step in ensuring that the tenant is held responsible for any damages to the property caused by the tenant’s abuse or neglect. The move-in inspection is also intended to protect the tenant from being held responsible for existing damages. Basically, the move-in inspection documents the actual and current condition of the property. There is another reason for completing the move-in inspection: Georgia law requires it.
O.C.G.A. 44-7-33 (a) of Georgia law states, “Prior to tendering a security deposit, the tenant shall be presented with a comprehensive list of any existing damage to the premises, which list shall be for the tenant’s permanent retention. The tenant shall have the right to inspect the premises to ascertain the accuracy of the list prior to taking occupancy. The landlord and the tenant shall sign the list and this shall be conclusive evidence of the accuracy of the list but shall not be conclusive as to latent defects. If the tenant refuses to sign the list, the tenant shall state specifically in writing the items on the list to which he dissents and shall sign such statement of dissent.”
It is key to point out that the move-in inspection must be completed and signed before a security deposit can be collected from the tenant.
It is best to walk the property with the tenant and get as detailed as possible on the move-in inspection. Some good things to notate on the inspection list outside of obvious damages are the lawn condition, mailbox condition, whether there is a fence and it’s condition, window screens present, gutter condition, door color if not white, storm/screen door present, wall paint colors, woodwork condition/color, ceiling fans present and model/color, floor types and condition, fireplace condition (gas key), the color/brand of all appliances as well as their operating condition, burned out light bulbs, any leaks from plumbing, towel rack and fixtures in the bathrooms, garage door openers/remotes, garage floor/driveway condition, HVAC filter condition, water heater condition/age, smoke detectors working, satellite dish present, sprinkler system, alarm system, HOA rules/regulations, how many door keys, mailbox keys, gate remotes and any pool keys for the neighborhood. Make sure both the tenant’s signature and your signature are dated as well. Make sure the tenant receives a copy of the signed inspection.
With the ease of digital technology dated photos can also be a good, simple addition to the move-in inspection list. That way when a tenant moves out you have two forms of documentation if you ever have to defend your move out charges. But photos are not an alternative to the move in inspection. When the time comes for the tenant to vacate the property the same move-in inspection is used to detail the damages to the property that go beyond normal wear and tear. We will discuss the move out procedure at a later date. A detailed and organized move-in inspection is a good tool to protect both the rental property and the landlord’s interest in the rental property. It is a vital document in complying with the strict way Georgia law allows the security deposit to be applied to any damages caused by the tenant.
Article written by John Durham, an employee with Excalibur Home Management, LLC, an Atlanta property management company.