How To Conduct a Tenant Walk-Through Inspection
A walk-through inspection is also commonly referred to as a move-in/move-out inspection.
When a tenant is first moving in, it’s common practice for both parties to walk through the unit and document its condition. As a tenancy ends, both parties in the lease will repeat this process. This will give you an opportunity to assess whether the tenant has caused damage or not.
With that in mind, here’s a detailed guide on how you should conduct a walk-through inspection.
1. Require a Security Deposit
Before even starting the move-in inspection, it's best to have a security deposit in place. This can be a big help for preventing tenant damages. Once you have approved their application, let them know of the required move-in costs.
Typical move-in fees include the first month’s rent, a pet fee, a security deposit, and an administrative fee.
Most states have rules regarding how landlords should handle their tenant’s security deposits. Kentucky doesn’t, however, have any statute on security deposit limits. Landlords can charge whatever amount they see fit.
2. Use a Move-In and Move-Out Checklist
Most landlords will include a checklist in the lease agreement. The checklist helps ease the process of moving in and out of the property, as it states how exactly tenants should return the property back to the landlord. This way, you won’t make the mistake of charging your tenant for damages they aren’t responsible for.
Having a template makes the process easier. You might also want to use abbreviations to record your property’s condition. Common abbreviations include:
- NA – Not Applicable
- NR – Needs Repair
- NC – Needs Cleaning
- ST – Stained
- SC – Scratched
A move-in checklist must also be signed by both you and your tenant. If, for whatever reason, your tenant refuses to do so, let them state the things they disapprove of in writing and then sign it.
In Kentucky, if a move-in checklist isn’t completed before collection of the security deposit, the landlord forfeits the right to make any deductions at the end of the lease term. As such, move-in checklists are required.
3. Record the Property’s Condition
You most likely have stunning photos of your property on your online rental listing and video tour. Even so, take before-and-after photos of your property for your own records to be on the safe side. This way, you’ll have documented proof of what your unit looked like at move-in and move-out.
Luckily, taking photos and videos is a task that requires no specialized skills! With some time to spare and a smartphone, you’ll be able to take quality photos by yourself. Most smartphones will also date the photos and videos taken.
4. Have the Walk-Through Inspection Before the Tenant Moves Out
This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, you may be able to determine the repairs that are needed and their approximate costs. Secondly, you may be able to avoid arguments by making a tenant aware of the potential deductions.
A walk-through inspection also gives a tenant an opportunity to fix any damages they might have caused.
When scheduling a walk-through inspection, keep the following in mind:
- Provide your tenant a written notice beforehand. A two weeks’ notice will suffice
- A tenant can choose to be present or not
- The inspection should occur one or two weeks before the tenancy ends
- You must provide your tenant with an itemized list of repairs (if any)
5. Conduct a Move-Out Walk-Through Inspection
This should happen the day your tenant is moving out. Wait until your tenant has removed all their belongings to start filling out the move-out checklist. You may also want to take a second set of photos and videos of the property for your own record.
Your tenant may choose to be present or not, but make sure that they hand in their keys and other appropriate materials before moving out of the property.
Make sure to go through each room and document its condition and the condition of certain amenities like smart security systems. Not everything you have to inspect is obvious, however. For example, when it comes to the kitchen, make sure to inspect the following parts with particular care:
- The interior of the microwave
- Any pipes that connect to a dishwasher
- The ledge beneath a washing machine
- The space underneath as well as behind a refrigerator
Basically, inspect your unit as thoroughly as you can manage. The last thing you want is to come across an issue long after your tenant has left and/or after a new tenant moves in.
6. Make the Appropriate Security Deposit Deductions
Landlords have a right to make appropriate deductions to a tenant’s deposit for certain reasons. In the state of Kentucky, you may be able to make appropriate deductions for reasons such as:
- If the tenant moves out without paying due rent
- If the tenant moves out with unpaid utility bills
- Causing damage exceeding normal wear and tear
- If the tenant breaks their lease early without a legally-justified reason
You must then send the remainder of the deposit (if any) and the itemized list of deductions to the tenant’s last known address. In Kentucky, you must do so 30 days after a tenant has moved out.
Please note that it’s illegal to wrongfully withhold a tenant’s security deposit. If you fail to return it within 30 days, you’ll forfeit your right to retain any funds in addition to paying the tenant legal fees.
There you have it! Everything you need to know when it comes to conducting a tenant walk-through inspection. By implementing the above steps, you'll be sure to keep your property in its top condition!
If you still find the process daunting, Alltrade Property Management can help. Get in touch to learn more!