A move-out inspection is one of the most important responsibilities for landlords as they’re designed to protect both the property owner and the tenant during the separation process. However, with so many moving parts, it’s more common than not that important details are missed. Everything from landscaping, damage to floors, built up garbage, and more should be documented. But how exactly do you ensure you cover every single detail, and nothing goes missed? That’s where we come in! With this move-out checklist for landlords you won’t have to worry about forgetting anything on a walkthrough. This list will cover the entire property from top to bottom, so make sure to keep an eye out and check for the following:
1. Before the Inspection
First, be sure you know the state laws that apply to your rental property regarding when an inspection must take place. In some cases, the inspection is required on the day of move-out; in others, there is a time limit to how many days can pass before an inspection is done. Some states require the inspection to be completed before the end of the lease to provide the tenant an opportunity to correct any problems.
If it’s possible, it’s better to wait until after the tenant’s possessions have been removed from the unit. That way, all areas of the unit are exposed, and no damage can be hidden. Plus, you won’t have to worry about disturbing the tenant’s privacy or handling personal effects if the unit has already been cleared.
Some states require that the tenant is notified of the date and time of the inspection and provide tenants with the right to be present during the inspection. In most cases, however, it’s more comfortable for the landlord to inspect the unit without the tenants present as they will be better able to take their time and complete a thorough inspection without pressure.
Lastly, most tenants will be anxious to find out the status of their security deposit. Be certain not to make any statements or promises regarding the return of any deposits until the inspection is complete as even a verbal agreement could cause future complications.
2. Use Inspection Software
Inspection software will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth, organized closure of a tenant’s lease. Paper inspection sheets will eventually have to be scanned or otherwise input into a shared system for long-term storage and easy access and are also cumbersome to use.
Many property management software systems such as Appfolio include move-out inspections in the package, so check yours first to see if you have this feature. If not, there are plenty of stand-alone apps that will fit the bill. For example, Home Inspector Pro is designed to be used on-site and is easy to use on virtually any device including laptops and smartphones.
When searching for a software solution, look for one that is flexible. Many will come with inspection templates to jump-start the process, but you’ll want to be able to customize the templates to fit your individual units. It can also be helpful to use software that will incorporate photos and videos right into the file so you’re not juggling several different files for each inspection. Lastly, the software should be able to generate reports that make sense to tenants while also providing the details necessary for your records.
3. Take Photos of Every Room
Speaking of photos, this is a must for every move-out, even if there is no damage. Make sure to take several photos for each room from different perspectives to get a complete view. If damage is present, be sure to take several close-up photos that show the damage in detail from a couple different angles.
To get the best results, take photos during the daytime and make sure to open curtains and blinds to allow natural light into the space. This will help document details such as stains on walls or carpeting and reveal mold and mildew spots that may be difficult to see without adequate light. Be sure to set the date and time on your camera correctly.
If your inspection software provides annotation features, use them! Go beyond wide-view photos and include basics such as flooring, walls, and ceilings. You can also go into details such as light fixtures, sinks, and appliances making sure to note the current condition of the feature or fixture.
Ideally, your inspection software will link directly to each photo, so they become part of the report. That way, you don’t have to spend a considerable amount of time labeling and organizing your photos for future use.
Lastly, consider making a short video to include with the file, especially if there is substantial damage as this will provide a better overall perspective if a third party needs to view your documentation. When creating a video, be sure to state the address, unit, date, and time and identify yourself at the beginning of the video to avoid confusion.
4. Take Your Time and Be Detailed
With so many tasks to juggle on a daily basis, it can be tempting to rush through something as seemingly straightforward as a move-out inspection. However, a detailed approach is always best as the more slowly and methodically you make your way through the unit, the more items you are likely to notice.
Once you’ve done a general inspection of a room, move on to the smaller items that can be more discrete. For example, door knobs and plates, door stops, and closet doors can all appear to be fine but may prove to be damaged upon further inspection. Check plumbing fixtures such as sinks and handles, flush the toilets, and check underneath bathroom and kitchen cabinets for leaks. Check for clogs and ensure that hot water is running. Be sure to look for stoppers, plugs, and other accessories to make sure they have not gone missing.
Other things to look for include permanent spots on mirrors, damage to baseboards, marks and holes in walls, lighting and fan fixtures, stains on countertops and sinks, and pantry/cabinet shelving. You may also want to check electrical fixtures such as switches, wall plates, and outlets to be sure they’re all working properly and not cracked, damaged, or otherwise posing a hazard.
Lastly, take time to individually inspect each appliance for cleanliness and functionality. In the kitchen, make sure all knobs, drip pans, drawers, and shelving are present. Make sure stove burners are operational, the refrigerator and freezer are cooling properly, and test the microwave with a cup of water.
Remember, this inspection isn’t necessarily meant to be a nit-picky accounting of everything a previous tenant may be responsible for. Even if you choose not to charge the previous tenant for missing or damaged items, you’ll still want to be aware of them as you prep the unit for the next tenant.
5. After the Inspection
Once you conclude the inspection, make sure your report has been successfully saved in your software package and double check that what you entered is there. That way, if anything goes wrong, you’ll still be on-site to make corrections to the report.
Before leaving the unit, get a head start on the turnover by changing the furnace filter, replacing any burned-out light bulbs, and installing a new toilet seat. If temperatures are heading toward freezing, make sure the heat is on to avoid any potential damage. Lastly, change the locks (or change the key if you’re using smart locks like Kwikset) so previous tenants cannot enter the unit.
Move-Outs Made Easy
The move-in and move-out process can be a busy time for both landlords and tenants. The more organized and prepared you are for these processes, the better the experience will be. To make the process even easier, consider providing a tenant move-out checklist either at the time of lease signing or a few weeks before the lease end date. That way, tenants will have some time to correct problems themselves and avoid losing all or part of their deposit and making the turnover process easier for you, too.
If you’ve read through this move out check list for landlords and don’t think you’ll have the time to do the due diligence in your inspection, look into hiring a property management company like Bay Property Management Group to help with the process. Contact BMG today to see how professionals can get you through the inspection process without the hassle and in a short amount of time.