Tenant move ins call for a variety of responsibilities, including collecting security deposits and issuing necessary disclosures. But what’s required of landlords when it’s time for a tenant to move out?
Move-out inspections are conducted by the landlord after a tenant vacates their property. These inspections allow landlords to see if there are needed repairs from the tenant’s stay and lets landlords make appropriate deductions from the security deposit as needed.
New landlords may not know what to look for when conducting a move-out inspection. This article lays out what is included in normal wear and tear versus deductible offenses, and anything else you may need to know when inspecting your property after a tenant moves out.
What to Look for in a Move-Out Inspection
In order to deduct from a tenant’s security deposit, they must have created damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear. Real damage decreases your property’s value and is a result of tenant negligence or abuse.
Normal wear and tear could be things like nail holes, chipped paint, or general wear of kitchen appliances. Damages that warrant deductions from a security deposit could be appliances that are damaged beyond being usable, large holes in the wall, or excessive dirtiness of the unit.
If you find substantial damage in your property following tenant move out, be sure to take pictures and document each offense. Tenants have a right to ask for an itemized receipt of security deposit deductions, and you need to be ready to back up each deduction you made with evidence.
How Long do Property Inspections Take?
Property inspections should take at least a couple of hours. You must be diligent and thorough, since after you return your tenant’s deposit, you may no longer deduct from it. If you miss anything that would have been a deductible offense, the repair will have to come out of your own pocket.
Should You Allow Early Move-Out Inspections?
Sometimes, tenants will ask you to conduct their move out inspection prior to them leaving the property. That tenant may want to ensure that they’re not charged for pre-existing damage or that you don’t take out excessive funds from their deposit. It could also be that they think they have to be present for the inspection. Tenants, do you have to be present for an apartment inspection? No. In fact, it’s best that you are not.
Landlords can do their most diligent inspections when the tenant has already moved out. Tenants may move furniture or boxes around strategically to hide damage like holes in the wall, or they could simply distract you from the task at hand and cause you to miss major issues.
Although you want to be accommodating, it’s crucial that you do not allow early move-out inspections. As mentioned before, when you refund a tenant’s deposit, it’s gone forever. You may find that you conducted an early inspection, the tenant moved out, and only then discover that damage was left behind. For this reason, you should only refund a deposit after the tenant moves out.
Be sure to check your state’s laws to see how long you have to refund your tenant’s deposit. Usually, states give landlords anywhere from 20 to 30 days to conduct their inspections and return the remaining deposit.
Security deposits are an important way for you to ensure that your property is treated with respect, and for tenants to be motivated to take good care of their rental homes. Although part of being a good landlord is trying to accommodate tenants whenever possible, avoiding early move-out inspections is the best way to ensure you have a fair opportunity to deduct from tenant’s deposits when they neglect your property.