Regardless of how much effort you put into screening your tenants, damage inevitably occurs. Even the best tenants can unintentionally cause damage to your units. Hopefully, the security deposit will cover any necessary repairs after the tenants move out. Even so, it is important to be able to differentiate between damage caused by the most recent tenants and something that might have occurred previously.
A move-in and a move-out walkthrough assists in solving this problem. Walkthroughs benefit you as well as your tenants. While a walkthrough is an extra step, it is one that should not be overlooked. Ultimately, a few extra minutes can help to save you money, time, and a lot of hassles.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding how you choose to implement walkthroughs, but even a simple form can work quite well. At a minimum, your walkthrough form should contain the following information:
- Property address
- Inspection date
- Move-in or move-out
- Signatures of the landlord and tenant(s)
When conducting a move-in walkthrough, it is important to explain to your new tenants that the walkthrough is designed for their own protection so that everyone is aware of pre-existing damage. There is no need to detail ordinary wear and tear, but if there are any issues beyond what you would consider ordinary use, it should be noted on the form. Items that you should consider checking include:
- Flooring and carpeting
- Light fixtures
- Doors and windows
- Bath fixtures
- Heating and air
Keep in mind that along with performing a visual inspection of appliances, you should also verify that everything works properly. When it comes to the walls, remember that tenants will usually need to put up pictures and other art, which often leaves unsightly holes. You will need to determine whether the holes are easy to repair based on their size.
Along with conducting a move-in walkthrough, it is also a good idea to conduct a walkthrough when the tenant moves out. Ideally, the walkthrough should be conducted with the tenant. This walkthrough can be used as a basis for deducting money from the security deposit, so you should be very detailed in your approach. You may also find it helpful to give the tenant a copy of both the move-in walkthrough as well as the move-out walkthrough.
In the event that you do note any damage, be sure to be specific regarding details. It is also a good idea to snap a photo with a time-stamp of the relevant damage. In the event that you need to deduct money from the security deposit later, photos can provide supporting documentation. Along those same lines, you may also find it beneficial to periodically photograph your units to provide a visual timeline regarding condition. Such photos can also prove to be helpful in the event that you ever need to file an insurance claim.
Conducting move-in and move-out walkthroughs, when handled properly, can help to protect you and provide tenants with an extra incentive to care for your units.