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Things Landlords Should Know About a Move Out Inspection



When a tenant is about to move out, there is one crucial thing a landlord or property manager needs to do: schedule a move-out inspection.

A move-out inspection occurs when a landlord and a tenant walks through the rental unit to look for any damage or illegal alterations to the unit. As the landlord/property manager, you are looking for any damage in excess of normal wear and tear or any changes to the unit that have not been mutually agreed upon, such as changing the paint color.


Basically, it’s your chance to see if the current condition of the rental home is exactly what it was when the tenant first moved in.


Why Do an Inspection?

It may seem silly to do a move-out inspection, but it is absolutely crucial for you as the landlord/property manager. It allows you to condition the exact condition of the rental unit so you can do what is needed before the next tenant moves in.


It also allows you to get an accurate idea of how much of the tenant’s security deposit needs to be returned. The less damage, the more should be returned. The more damage and the more labor you have to expend, the less the refund should be.


If the tenant is still in the unit at the time of the inspection, you can go over the damages with them and give them a chance to fix it before they leave.


When Should You Schedule an Inspection?

As the name implies, a move-out inspection should occur when the tenant is about to move out. It shouldn’t happen when they’re in the middle of the lease, or if they just renewed!


When they tell you that they’re not renewing their lease and moving out, that’s when you think about scheduling it. The exact time when this inspection can take place will vary depending on your state laws.


In Arizona, the landlord shall notify the tenant when the landlord's move-out inspection will occur (upon request of the tenant). So you may set the time & place of the inspection. You must conduct move-out inspections. Tenants have a right to be present at the inspection if they inform the landlord of their desire in advance. The landlord does not have to allow the tenant to be present, however, if the tenant is being evicted and the landlord fears for his safety.


In other states, a move out inspection can be done anywhere from three days to two weeks before a tenant’s move.

State Laws

Not all states require a move-out inspection. You should check your state’s security deposit laws to determine if you are obligated to conduct this inspection.


How Landlords Benefit From Move-Out Inspections

It may seem like a hassle to walk through the rental unit and inspect every nook and cranny for damage, but it is beneficial to you !


As we mentioned before, it allows you to determine the repairs that are needed and the approximate cost of these repairs. Conducting an inspection before a tenant’s moves out gives the tenant the opportunity to fix the damages so that deductions are not taken from their security deposit.


It’s more than just that though; an inspection protects you from legal disputes. Making the tenant aware of the potential deductions that will be taken from their security deposit can help end disputes. The tenant will know what to expect and will not be surprised by the deductions.


How to Conduct Move-Out Inspections

The more detailed you are at the beginning, the better off you’ll be when you’re ready for this inspection. This means having a detailed record from the tenant (and from yourself) about the condition of the unit when they first moved in. This gives you something to compare to.


Keep that list and use it when you’re walking through the unit for this inspection. Each inspection needs to thoroughly list every room and area, with repairs and damages clearly laid out in the report. You should include pictures with your inspection report, get signatures, and hold onto it


Communicate with the Tenant

Planning ahead and keeping in touch with the tenant is key to have a smooth inspection. Several weeks before the move-out, you should have a calendar of scheduled events surrounding the inspection and move-out. What you need to plan for depends on where you’re located.


Hire Someone Who Can Help

A move-out inspection and dealing with the repairs, finances, documentation, and contact is a lot to ask. Sometimes, it’s just better if you have help. If you don’t have the time to do all of this or need a little help with your properties, it may be time to hire a property manager.


A property manager is an employee of the landlord — they can do as much or as little as the landlord wants. You, as the landlord, would set their responsibilities and follow through with them as you see fit. This includes handling inspections.


If you’re interested in getting a little help, contact the BC Team. They’ve been in property management for over 35 years and are happy to help you. Reach out today!


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