Move in, move out inspection process
All property managers and landlords should use a move in / move out inspection report. It is another piece of the landlord and tenant communication puzzle. In Nova Scotia and several other provinces and states you can get a form to use online. The forms are free and if used will be favored by the residential tenancy board. I have attached a link to the Nova Scotia form. Landlords Move in / Move out inspection report
When we started buying buildings, we would take time to meet with each tenant to sign a new lease, and ask about any concerns. I will have to admit that even though we were diligent about the lease signings and doing repairs and maintenance work to make our tenants happy, we were a bit slack on filling out a report.
We were also a bit slack when we rented to new tenants. We would always do a move in walk through and make notes on the back of the lease, but we did not always fill out a form.
We are not the type of people that like to hold back damage deposits. We always like to pay it back in full when tenants leave.
This method of inspection put us in a bit of a poor position when it came time for those tenants to move out. If there was any damage that we suspected was done by the tenant, we could not be certain. We also were also not the best at setting our cleaning expectation.
I can remember doing a move out inspection with a tenant and she was so proud to show me around after she had spent the day cleaning. Let’s just say I spent a couple hours re-cleaning the bathroom, stove, on top of the fridge etc., and yes I gave her back her damage deposit in full.
We learned from this experience that the move in / move out inspection report needs to be filled out for all tenants. It is not all about the form, or creating paper work. It is a great time to have open communication between the landlord / property manager and tenant to set expectations.
My idea of a clean apartment could be different from someone else’s. The stage needs to be set. I had a friend who was moving out of a high end apartment, the property manager tried to withhold his damage deposit because she found a couple of finger prints on the windows and on the stainless steel fridge. This is an example of something that could have been dealt with during a move in inspection.
I also found when I did not do a proper form, I would always find myself being a bit of a soft touch during the move out. Especially if the tenant was a really great tenant, and they were moving on to buy a house, or leave town. I know how important the damage deposit cash can be to a tenant, but I also know how important my time and money are.
If you do a slack move in or move out inspection it will cost you time money or both.
Here is our current process:
When a tenant moves in we go through the inspection form with them. We carefully note any damage or unclean areas. We take our time and explain / show how clean each room needs to be. It is important to show the new tenant how clean you expect the fridge, stove and bath tub when they move out. We also note any work we are going to carry out after the move in.
We have the tenant sign and date the form.
When we have a tenant move out, the form we use has a move in and move out section on it. We do a final walk through and discuss any damage that appears to be outside general wear and tear. We can refer to the notes on the move in side of the form.
We discuss the damage deposit at that time. If everything is good and the tenant is fully moved out at this point, we give them the damage deposit on the spot. If something else needs to be done before the damage deposit is released, or they are not fully moved out, we hold the deposit and tell the tenant exactly how much will be deducted if the problem is not solved.
We have discovered that having a properly filled out form ensures a cleaner and more ready apartment. It also avoids awkward conversations with tenants who think your are with holding part or all of the damage deposit as a cash grab.
Make sure to check out the attached link.
Michael P Currie