When it’s time for a tenant to move, one of the most important steps is the move-out inspection. This allows you to see if any damage has been done to the property while the tenant has lived there, giving you the right to charge them so you don’t have to pay for it out of pocket. Although this may seem like a simple enough process, it’s important to follow certain guidelines to make sure it goes smoothly for yourself and the tenant. This way you can both go away feeling content and justified

Notify the Tenant

It’s important to let the tenant know that a move-out inspection will be taking place so they have time to clean the property and fix any small damages that may have been caused. This should be a written notice that includes the date and time of the inspection, as well as information about itemized deductions from the deposit that may occur. You may also inform the tenant that they can choose to be present at the inspection if they wish to do so.

Clear Communication During Inspection

If the tenant is present during the inspection, it’s important to give clear communication as you go through the property and be careful not to promise too much. Even simply implying that the rental property “looks pretty good” when doing the inspection can give the tenant the wrong impression about how things really went. Instead, give them facts about the apartment, show them your checklist, or simply avoid the subject until after you’ve done a complete evaluation.

Go in Without Expectations

Whether you’re doing the inspection for your best tenant or your worst, it’s important to begin with the same headspace. Even the best tenants can leave behind damages. If you go into the inspection not expecting to find anything, you may become lax in your search and miss small things that would otherwise cause them to lose part of their deposit. Also, be sure to check for smells or appliance malfunctions they might try to cover up. Be sure to compare the results of the inspection with the original move-in reports for the most accurate report.

Return Deposit With Statement

Once the inspection has been completed, it’s important to return the tenant’s security deposit with an itemized statement of deductions. The more specific you are in this statement, the easier it will be to prove if the tenant tries to fight any claims. This statement and the deposit should be given within 14 days after the tenant has moved out, not including weekends or holidays. 

The best thing you can do to avoid mistakes during a move-out inspection is to give clear communication. As long as you let the tenant know when the inspection will be, what’s expected, what’s found, and why any deductions from the deposit were made, it will be hard for the tenant to have any complaints. Keep a record of what’s found in every room in detail in case any problems do arise, and you’ll have a smooth move-out process for yourself and your tenant.