Move In / Move Out Inspection Guide

If you are a landlord, you will frequently be dealing with tenants moving in and moving out of your property. Despite what many people think, it’s actually in the interest of both parties to perform an inspection. Our move in / move out inspection guide will help you better understand and organize the process.

What are move in / move out inspections?

These are inspections that are performed by the tenant and the landlord. Both can be present, but inspections can also be done with just one party. Tenants are expected to sign a lease agreement in which they agree that when they leave the property, it will be in the same state as when the tenant was moving in.

There is an exception to leaving the property in the same state, and that is called “normal wear and tear.” This is the type of wear that occurs from everyday use and age. It represents something that would have happened regardless of who was living there.

Normal wear and tear is hard to precisely define and agree upon. The law also varies from state to state. Try to use your best judgment and expect things like carpet wear, chipped paint, and minor scratches to be unavoidable.

How do move in / move out inspections help the landlord?

The obvious way these inspections help landlords is by protecting their property from unnecessary damage by the tenants. Before moving in, the tenants agree to leave the property in the same state.

In case of any damage, it is up to the tenants to perform the required repairs. If the tenants did any modifications to the property, it is also up to them to restore it to the original state. Landlords can also use inspections to keep track of the condition of their property and perform regular maintenance.

How do move in / move out inspections help tenants?

By having a move in inspection, the tenants can check the property. This is an excellent opportunity to bring a tape measurer and measure the place you will be renting. Seeing the home in person is entirely different, and you should measure all the items to make sure that all of your furniture will fit.

The inspection should also reveal any pre-existing faults that were present even before the tenants moved in. Tenants should point out any faults or damage to the landlord to avoid later discrepancies. If any repairs need to be made, tenants can use the inspection to find out about them and to get the landlord to perform the needed work.

Who should be present for the inspection?

We highly recommend that both parties be present when the inspections are taking place. Treat this as an opportunity to look at the condition of the property. Discuss any issues that you see and make a note of everything that is not functioning correctly or that is not in perfect condition.

When it comes time for move out inspections, some tenants claim that they will be busy. Instead, they offer an early move out inspection, which would take place before they leave the property. As a landlord, you should avoid these situations and perform inspections only once the tenants have moved out.

Do you always need an inspection?

Regardless of the state of the property, you should always perform an inspection. If you are a landlord, you can save a lot of money by detecting any faults on the property early. To avoid problems, you should do the inspection before returning the deposit to your tenants.

On the other hand, if you are a tenant, you’ll need to be vigilant for the move in inspection and point out anything wrong with the property. If you fail to notice a fault during the process, the landlord might charge you for it later.

If you will be moving into a small apartment, then the inspection won’t take long. You should still remember to be thorough and check everything. Moving into a smaller apartment from a larger one might tempt you to be creative and get used to new space after downsizing. Be sure to talk to the landlord about any changes you plan to make to the property. You will probably need to return things to how they were when it’s time to move out.

Larger apartments and houses can take more time to inspect. Ask the landlord how long he expects the inspection to last, but don’t rush it. Take it one room at a time instead of going back and forth.

Checklist and tools next to damaged wall
Inspection checklists are a great way to note any faults on the property that need to be repaired.

The benefit of using a checklist

If there is only one thing you will remember after reading our move in / move out inspection guide, let it be this: Always use an inspection checklist! This goes for both tenants and landlords. If you don’t already have an inspection checklist, you can find a link to a printable checklist here. By following an inspection checklist, you will be sure nothing gets skipped.

Tips on making the inspection run smoothly

Using a checklist during an inspection is a great way to make sure you cover everything. Here are a few more tricks to get the most out of the inspection:

  • Take photos. Photos can go along with the descriptions from the checklist.
  • Video footage is great. How are you going to take a photo of a creaking door? The video footage can also confirm that both parties were present.
  • Put everything on paper. You can discuss special requirements, but never leave anything on just a verbal agreement.
  • Agree on dates for repairs. If you are a tenant and see something faulty, write down the date the landlord promises to do the repairs on all copies of the checklist.

As you have seen from our move in / move out inspection guide, it is in the interest of both parties to have an inspection. Whichever side of the landlord-tenant relationship you are on, try to avoid confrontations and leave a good impression. Use the move in inspection as a great start to your new landlord-tenant journey.

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