Move-out inspections are an important responsibility for landlords and property managers to perform. Some states require a move-out inspection, but even if your state doesn’t, many find it worth it to take the time to do so. Here are a few basics that will help landlords handle move-out inspections efficiently and effectively.

What is a Move Out Inspection?

A move-out inspection occurs when a tenant is about to move out of a unit. The landlord and tenant walk through the unit to look for any damages or illegal alterations. The landlord typically looks for any damage that exceeds usual wear and tear or any changes that were not agreed upon such as changing the paint color or permanently altering the look of the property. They compare the current conditions of the unit to the condition it was in when the tenant first moved into the property based on the photos and notes the landlord took before the current tenant moved in.

Purpose of the Inspection

The main purpose of move-out inspections is to allow the landlord to document the condition of the property. It allows them to see if any damage has been made, which will decrease the amount of the security deposit the renter will receive. If move-out inspections are done before the tenant moves, the landlord can supply them with a list of damages found and the tenant may have the chance to make the necessary repairs before they move out. This also allows the landlord to see what repairs need to be made before the next tenant moves into the property.

How to Prepare

There are a few important things landlords must do before each move-out inspection in a rental unit. First, always give the tenant at least a few days’ notice before landlords do the inspection. The state laws for how much time landlords have to give vary, so be sure to do your research and make sure you follow the regulations set. Explain to your tenant why a thorough move-out inspection is necessary so they understand how this is beneficial to them as well. Finally, be prepared to take pictures of any damages found and date them so you have evidence of deductions made to the security deposit.

What to Look For

There are many examples of checklists online that landlords can use, however, there are a few basic things to be sure to look for. Make sure all of the walls are the same paint color they were when the tenancy began unless given specific permission to do otherwise. Check all appliances to make sure they work and are free of damage. Check that all plumbing is flowing freely and the pipes are free of blockages. Check walls behind furniture for any dents or holes. Finally, the unit should be thoroughly cleaned and all trash should be removed from the rental property.

During the move-out inspection, landlords should differentiate between normal wear and tear and excessive property damage. This is because the property damaged repair costs can be covered by the tenant’s security deposit. If landlords make any security deposit deductions they need to send the tenant an itemized list and the remaining amount of money, if there is any.