Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While I don’t know if he owned rental property, this axiom rings true for just about every part of being a landlord. It is certainly no exception when talking about a move-in inspection.
One of the more common disputes between landlord/tenant is regarding the return of the tenant’s security deposit when the lease is up. By completing a thorough inspection prior to the move in, there is a lot of guesswork removed from the equation upon move out. What does a thorough inspection look like? Well it may look a little different from landlord to landlord, but with modern technology and the access to cameras or video equipment, it is better to over document, then under document. Generally, a good combination of photos, videos, and written descriptions regarding condition, functionality, and overall aesthetic of the home is the goal. The more documentation there is, the better protected you are as the landlord, and the better the expectations are set for the tenant.
Robert Griswold wrote an in-depth article detailing the importance of the move-in inspection, which can be found here, entitled “The Importance of the Move-In Inspection.” In addition to harping on the importance of this inspection, he also gives ideas on how to structure a checklist, and how to help avoid the “he said/she said” that is inevitable without these inspections.
We didn’t want to overlook the move-out inspection, which is equally as important. Again, detailed documentation is the key, so that it can be cross-referenced with the move-in inspection. But to have a move-out inspection that holds water, you first need a move-in inspection with no holes in it.