Just because the tenant has signed the lease agreement, arranged the move-in date, and provide you with any upfront fees, does not mean the job is done. There is one final thing that you are going to need to make sure gets done. You are going to have to have the move-in inspection. While you may think this is a large chunk of your time wasted, it can come in handy when it comes time for the tenant to move out. The report is also convenient if you should have to evict the tenant due to disrespecting your property. We don’t like to think about eviction, but it is a harsh reality when you are renting a property. Should you not have proof of the condition of the home before the tenant moving in, you are likely not to receive judgment for your settlement. Courts tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to awarding damages. Therefore, no proof, no compensation. Below, I, Mark Roemer, am going to share a few tips on how to conduct these inspections to protect you and the tenant.
When it comes time to inspect the apartment or home, it is best if you have the tenant with you. This way, when it comes time to sign the inspection report, both the tenant and the landlord are in full agreement on the condition of the home. Having them present will also allow you to have the ability to go over any maintenance details. This can be anything from what they are expected to do while living in the home to the things you for which are going to be responsible. One of the things that I need to bring up is if you have hardwood floors. When you have a tenant moving into your property that has hardwood floors, you need to remind them to use felt padding on all their furniture. A way to avoid them forgetting or simply not doing this is to give them a welcome package that includes felt pads. That way, they do not have an excuse for not using them.
What to Look For
When you meet the tenant for the inspection, you both need to look for things that may come up later. Here is a quick list of things to look for when doing the review.
Ceilings and Walls: Walk the entire apartment looking for any dents, scratches, or scuff marks that will not easily be repaired. That way, when it comes time for the move-out report, you can overlook those as part of your damage assessment.
Floors: Again, walk around the apartment looking for any stained, damaged, or loose flooring material. This should not be limited to just carpet. Make sure that you look at any brick, linoleum, tile, or wood surfaces.
Trim: Look high and low at any trim that is at the base or crown of the walls. Be sure to check door jams both inside and outside. Again, we are looking for any stains, scuffs, or scratches.
Bathrooms: When you are looking at the bathrooms, you want to make sure there are no stains around the toilet, as well as inside the toilet. Double-check that the faucets are not leaking. You are going to want to check all the points that water can enter and ruin your home. Additionally, you are going to want to check the sinks, tubs, toilet, and showers to make sure there are not any cracks in them. Should you find any cracks, it would probably be best to replace them. This can be a significant point of leaks that can severely damage your home.
Exterior: To the best of your ability, make sure there is no damage to the outside of the property. This will be quickly done on the first floor of a house or apartment complex. However, it can become confusing on any level above the first floor. Do your best. Bring a set of binoculars if this makes things easier. Be sure to allow the tenant to use them as well. Most of them will not think of bringing something like that to an inspection.
Decks/Patios/Balconies: Check to make sure that any stone, brick, or wood decks are not damaged. Likewise, check to make sure all balconies are in sound condition. You don’t want to have to deal with a lawsuit for damaged property and a tenant having a fall.
Emergency Alarms: Check to make sure that any smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors are in working condition. As a matter of fact, in addition to supplying the tenant with felt pads, I often like to provide them with a set of batteries for all the emergency alarms in the house. That way, there is no excuse for them not to work.
Storage: Last, but certainly not least, make sure that any storage facility that you have for the tenant is cleaned out and locked. Many times, when I go for move-in inspections, I find that the tenants before have left some things behind. Most of it is intentional, but not always.
When you are conducting your move in/move out inspection, it is imperative to take pictures of any discrepancies. This will serve as a reminder for you and the tenant of what the condition of the home was before them moving in. Make sure that you add these to the rental agreement. Additionally, it is crucial to let the tenant take pictures of their own. That way, they will not be able to say they didn’t know about existing or new damage.
There you have it. A complete list of things you need to check off when you are moving a new client in or moving an old client out. Remember, when you are conducting the move-in inspection, you need to do this before the tenant has moved anything in. Conversely, when you do the move-out report, you are going to do this after they have moved everything out. This will allow you to see exactly what damage was or was not inflicted to the home.