Successful move-in move-out inspections are crucial for effective property operations, management, and resident relations
Move-In Move-Out Inspections — Basics & Security Deposits
First, a few basics. Landlord-tenant law often impacts the security deposit aspect of a move-in move-out inspection.
Landlords can charge two to three times the monthly rent for a security deposit. In some locations, the deposit must collect interest but that varies from place to place.
For example, in California when a tenant moves out the landlord has 21 days to return a security deposit. They are also required to outline the move-out charges imposed.
Sometimes that timeframe is actually shorter. If the cost exceeds the deposit amount, a landlord can charge for any damage beyond normal wear and tear. Altogether this can include:
- Unpaid rent
- Damage to the rental unit
Charging Tenants for Damages
Move-in move-out inspections are important for establishing the condition of the unit. To collect damage and cleaning charges, the landlord must prove that the unit was, in fact, damaged.
You can’t charge for carpet replacement due to normal wear and tear if the carpet is five years old, for example. The useful life of a carpet is about five years, so this does not fall under damage that the tenant may cause. But, if the tenant manages to leave a giant burn mark on brand new carpet that is a legitimate damage charge.
A move-in inspection is a critical step to establish the initial condition of the unit. Your move-out inspection can then prove where cleaning and damage fees apply.
Retaining Move-In Move-Out Inspections For Your Protection
Keeping inspection records is vital. Residents have about three years to recover security deposits if they choose to sue. Keeping records can protect you. The best way to conduct these inspections is online using Leonardo247. With this program, you can track and save your data. Leonardo247 allows you to come back years later to find that original inspection if you need it.
During a move-in move-out inspection you should check every fixture, furniture, and equipment. You’re looking at the condition of each piece of FF&E and taking photos for confirmation if necessary.
Of course, using a digital inspection tool is the best way to ensure consistency. It can also help you store information in a folder associated with that unit. So if you need to come back years later and justify the charges in court, you can pull that information up.
When the resident moves in, you must capture the initial state of the unit. You also need the resident’s signature on a digital form if possible. You can capture that signature in person or from any mobile device.
During the move-out inspection, you’re looking for damage beyond the normal wear and tear. Carpets, appliances, and furniture are all expected to last about five years. If you need to replace them sooner, you can charge the resident the pro-rated remaining value of that item.
Say you have a carpet that should last five years, for example. If you have to replace it after three years, you can charge back two years of the probative value.
Tracking Assets via Inspections
A key part of this whole process is having an asset tracking system in place. The system can track an asset from installment to the end of its useful life. It can also help estimate replacement and damage costs.
Vacated units should appear in the same condition as when rented. You can assess charges for very soiled items that need extra cleaning.
A thoughtful move-in move-out process goes hand-in-hand with a well-developed inspection form. These can ensure that no charges are arbitrary or discretionary. Both should be completely defensible in court if it ever becomes necessary.
Further, you can avoid arguments with your resident over the unit’s conditions. You can completely bypass the he-said-she-said and look at the facts. That’s a big benefit of a proper move-in move-out process. To document conditions you have to have a thoughtful system.
What Does a Modern Move-In Move-Out Inspection Form Do?
The most important element is the speed at which you can capture the information. You don’t want the resident to go more than a couple of days without having done the move-in inspection.
The same goes for the move-out inspection. You might do a pre-move-out inspection to establish what the resident will pay. This way you can avoid some tension with the resident. Once they’ve actually moved out, you can perform the full inspection right away.
Also, you should complete this online. You’ll want a mobile device that can work in a disconnected mode. If you’re in an area that doesn’t have a cellular signal, you still need to be able to use that device. The inspection form should be able to capture and store photos and signatures. When the resident moves out, you will have records ready for comparison.
Leonardo247 will deposit all that information into a system. You can use it to generate a comparison report to show move-in move-out changes. That’s very important. you will need to store the information in such a way that you can come back any time. You should be able to find inspection data if you ever get into a dispute with a resident.
The system should also create a statement of deposit accounting or SODA. That immediately goes out to the resident once the move-out inspection is complete. Usually, that’s within a period of time that can be as long as 21 days. But it would be great if you could print that out right after you do the inspection and provide that to the tenant.
Customized, Standardized Inspections
Using a tool like Leonardo247 can make it easier to manage your property. It allows you to fill inspections and create forms exactly how you want them. Now you can ensure everyone is using the same form across your whole portfolio. This can help with completing timely inspections.
Further, you can pre-populate many questions using drop-down menus. That was you don’t have to impose on the resident for long. They’re very quick.
These components are important for a smooth and efficient move-in move-out process. In the end, that is going to save you money.