An unfortunate fact of move-in and move-out inspections is that they can cause an unnecessary rift between landlords and tenants. This is due to misconceptions about walk-throughs: tenants feel that they’re on the spot or in an uncomfortable situation. Here’s what you need to know about move-in and move-out inspections to clear the air.
Let’s start with an exciting day for both tenants and landlords: move-in day! Before your tenants start unloading the boxes from their truck, they must walk around the apartment with you, so you can both scope out the place.
What Is a Move-In Inspection?
Before moving in, landlords and tenants should perform a move-in inspection, also known as a walkthrough. This process is all about creating a record of the property’s state when the tenant received it. This is beneficial for tenants and the landlord.
Both parties should make detailed accounts of each room to note any existing damages or issues—you can fill out a move-in checklist that you and the tenant both sign. Once you’ve agreed upon the state of the apartment, it’s time for them to move in and enjoy their new home.
Some States Require Them
There are several different requirements for information disclosure on federal, state, and local levels. Landlords should check local ordinances to know whether their state requires move-in inspections. To avoid lawsuits, landlords must disclose certain pertinent information to tenants, such as lead paint on the property.
Failure to disclose any vital information could result in fines, lawsuits, or even losing your rental license. Luckily, a property manager can take care of these details for you if you have one.
Holds Everyone Accountable
Contrary to popular belief, a move-in inspection is not a way for landlords to “put one over” on tenants. In truth, a move-in walkthrough is an effective way to hold both parties accountable.
Walking through a property with both parties present is essential, as it allows tenants to hold their landlord responsible for any necessary repairs. Also, it lets landlords note the condition of the rental prior to a tenant’s occupancy so that they can assess any damages caused by the tenant at the end of their lease.
Landlords, remember to hold the move-in inspection as soon as your tenant arrives and before they’ve started moving in their belongings. If you neglect to do so, you can accidentally miss prior damage or inadvertently forgive damage caused by your new tenant during their move-in process.
You should also make sure the tenant completes their move-in inspection with you present. This removes the worry of an inaccurate inspection and ensures an entirely fair outcome.
What To Look For
Armed with a move-in checklist, tenants and landlords have a few specific things they should keep an eye out for during the walkthrough.
While you should take care of major repairs before a new tenant’s arrival, you may notice some minor damages that don’t need immediate repair. Tenants should watch out for issues like chipped paint, scratched floors, cigarette burns, and stains. They must document every problem they spot so that you won’t charge them for the issues at the end of their lease. You should also take note of these previous damages so that there’s no confusion between you and the tenant.
Tenants and landlords should test everything. Turn on every light, check every outlet, and try out every appliance. You don’t want to assume the dryer works, only to learn that you have to handle the repairs after your tenant moves in.
Health and Safety
Before signing off on the inspection checklist, make sure all the health and safety tools in the apartment function properly. This includes smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Test the locks on all the doors and windows, too. Finally, discuss documentation on lead paint and asbestos with your tenant to ensure their safety.
At the end of a tenant’s lease, both parties will need to come together once more for a final inspection. Once your tenant has removed their belongings from the apartment, walk through the space with them. Then, you can begin the move-out inspection.
What Is a Move-Out Inspection?
Like a move-in inspection, a move-out inspection involves both parties taking stock of the apartment’s final condition. Look around for illegal alterations and excessive wear and tear—you should consider anything that wasn’t listed during the move-in inspection to be caused by the tenant, and they are responsible for paying to get it fixed.
Landlords hoping to reduce vacancy times should schedule move-out inspections promptly so that they can recover the costs of any damages as fast as possible. On the other hand, tenants will want to undergo a move-out inspection if they’ve kept their apartment in good shape, as a positive move-out inspection will result in their security deposit’s return.
Prepare an Itemized Statement
Once you assess the property, you should create an itemized statement that lists all repairs and cleaning costs for the tenant. If the damage and cleaning costs eclipse the security deposit that the tenant initially gave, the tenant is responsible for paying the difference.
Mistakes To Avoid
Tenants can be tricky when money is at stake, so you should prepare to undertake a lengthy investigation. Look for hidden pet odors and stains to avoid returning a security deposit prematurely. While it’s a good idea to do a final walkthrough with your tenant, you may want to let them know that your inspection will take a long time.
Use an Inspection Checklist
For both the move-in and move-out inspections, an inspection checklist makes everything easier. With so many rooms and issues to look for, it’s understandable that landlords and tenants may overlook something. An inspection checklist ensures you cover all pertinent areas before signing off and returning their security deposit.
Now that you understand what you need to know about move-in and move-out inspections, consider hiring a rental property management company to make everything easier. Take some responsibility off your plate and let the experts help.