No matter how thoroughly you screen your Dundalk tenants, having your property management company follow a strict move-in process is a must. In fact, the success of your rental property business relies on a comprehensive move-in, successful rent collection, correct handling of maintenance issues, and proper eviction processes.
In order to avoid unnecessary disputes both during and after a lease term, your property management company should conduct routine inspections of your rental property. More specifically, right before a tenant moves into your property, and takes up residence with all of their personal belongings, you and your property manager should conduct a routine move-in inspection.
The importance of a good move-in inspection can never be understated. Designed as a way to protect you, your investment property, and your new tenants, move-in inspections are a crucial element to a successful lease term.
Read on to find out the top reasons why you should be conducting proper move-in inspections of your rental property at the start of every new lease term. Additionally, find out exactly what should happen during a move-in inspection, so that all parties are protected and satisfied with the rental property’s initial condition.
Why Conduct Move-in Inspections of Your Dundalk Rental Properties?
The general purpose behind a move-in inspection is to document the existing condition of your Baltimore County rental property before a tenant moves in. This documentation serves as your property’s baseline condition at the time your tenant moves in. In addition, it will be used for comparison at the end of the lease term when your tenant moves out.
Here are 8 key reasons a move-in inspection is so important to the success of your lease term:
- It provides factual proof of the condition of your rental prior to move-in that can be used in court as evidence, should a dispute arise
- It reveals maintenance issues that you were unaware of that you are responsible for fixing before a tenant moves in
- It dictates where any damage to the structure of the property exists, so your tenant will not end up responsible for repairing that damage at the end of the lease term
- It serves as a solid foundation when it comes to deducting from your tenant’s security deposit at the end of the lease term
- It demonstrates your tenant’s satisfaction of the condition of your property at the time of move-in
- It is used throughout the tenancy for subsequent routine inspections to ensure further damage has not occurred to your property
- It sets the tone at move-in that you and your property management company take leasing a property to tenants seriously
- It helps to build a better relationship with your tenant from the start
How to Conduct Better Move-in Inspections and Avoid Future Disputes
Now that you understand the importance of performing move-in inspections every time a new tenant moves into your Dundalk rental property, look at some of the best ways to conduct move-in inspections, so that everyone is on the same page come the end of the lease term.
Conduct an Actual Walk-Through
Do not rely on your tenants to document the damage they see in your rental property prior to move-in. Go ahead and give them 3-10 days to add to the walk-through list anything either you or your property manager missed during the initial inspection.
However, in order to document a true move-in inspection, you or your property manager need to be present with the tenant as you view the condition of the investment property.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you perform the walk-through with your tenant:
- Let your tenants add their observations
- Print everything legibly
- Determine whether something is dirty, scratched, broken, or in poor condition
- Note specifics whenever an issue is found
- Make sure to observe any health or safety hazards that you find such as mold, mildew, pests, or fire hazards, as these must be remedied immediately
- Document everything that is in good condition for later comparisons
Have All Parties Sign in Agreement
After conducting the physical walk-through of your property, make sure all parties in attendance – you, your Dundalk property manager, and your tenant – sign the inspection form prior to the tenant actually moving in.
Having signatures agreeing to the condition of your property will prevent any disputes at the end of the lease term, long after your tenant has lived in your property for some time and the conditions have changed.
This way, should you end up in a conflict with your tenant about how the security deposit is being put to use, you can remind your tenant that they agreed beforehand that the property was handed over in one condition, and that they are returning it in an entirely different condition.
Indicate the Condition of the Flooring
It is very important that you note on the move-in inspection the conditions of your property’s flooring. While normal wear and tear is bound to happen over time, if any of the flooring is destroyed during the tenancy, your tenants can be held responsible. This is only the case if you have the move-in inspection on hand to prove the property’s original condition.
Take Pictures if Possible
Not only should your Dundalk property’s move-in inspection include a written checklist detailing the condition of the property, it should also include photographs, if possible. If you take photos or video of your rental home prior to the tenant moving in, you will have surefire proof that damage was not pre-existing, and that your tenant is responsible for repairs.
It is worth noting that taking pictures of the rental property while in the presence of the tenant is a good idea. Not only does this show that you are serious about the move-in inspection and the state of your investment property, it helps assure your tenant that you are not trying to outsmart them.
In the end, conducting an effective move-in inspection of your entire Baltimore County rental property is always a good idea. Being sued by your tenant over a security deposit dispute is not something you (or your tenant) want to deal with. In addition, paying for damages that were indeed your tenant’s fault is not something any property owner wants to be faced with either.
If you live in the Dundalk area and own a rental property that is about to occupy a tenant, contact Bay Management Group to help you with all of your property’s move-in inspection needs. Not only can we help conduct move-in inspections of your property alongside your tenants and have all of the correct forms filled out, we can discuss any questions or concerns your tenant may have regarding the condition of the property.