The importance of an initial walk-through inspection with a tenant cannot be overstated. Apart from having the chance to document the property’s condition, you can take the opportunity to outline your expectations on how a tenant should take care of the property moving forward.
A property walk-through can significantly help to reduce the amount of damage you’ll have to repair thus keeping your property in great shape. Tenants will also have a better understanding of how the property functions and develop an appreciation for the importance of property maintenance.
In this article, we will discuss the different aspects involved in walk-through property inspections and how they can help you protect the value of your property.
Create an Inspection Form
The first step in a walk-through inspection is preparing a form that outlines all the specific areas of focus. The form should include all the rooms on the property and all of the elements in each room such as the floors, walls, ceiling fans, windows, doors, fixtures, etc. You can also leave some space for any additional items you might come across.
The inspection form should also include the condition of each of the appliances found on the property. Be sure to include some columns to input information such as the condition during the move-in and move-out inspections as well as the cost estimates for cleaning, repair, and replacement of damaged items.
Walk Through the Property with Your Tenant
The next step in the process is to schedule a walk-through with the tenant and any other individual mentioned in the lease. The purpose of this walk-through is to check on the property’s condition as well as to let the tenant know what is expected in terms of protecting the property’s condition.
The walk-through inspection is also a great opportunity to explain to the tenant the difference between property damage and reasonable wear and tear. This helps to ensure that you remain on the same page should repairs become necessary, thus reducing potential conflicts down the line.
Keep it Simple
It’s always advisable to keep things simple in a walk-through inspection. While going through every nook and cranny might seem thorough, you risk scaring the tenant into thinking that the property needs to be in absolutely perfect condition when the tenant moves out.
Going through unnecessary details could send the message that the tenant would be held accountable even for normal wear and tear. This could spook the tenant and might cause them to try and back out of the lease or not renew their lease when the time comes. A walk-through inspection needs to be short and concise and last for approximately 20 minutes.
Use Pictures and Videos to Document the Inspection
While taking notes is a great way to keep up with the property’s condition, pictures and videos can help to add more detail. Utilizing visual media in a walk-through inspection can significantly reduce the number of disputes related to the property’s condition.
A smartphone could come in handy when taking pictures and videos. One of the useful features is the time stamp which shows the exact date and time when the picture or video was taken. This can act as proof of the property’s initial condition if a dispute were to arise.
Though most tenants would not be intimidated when you start recording the walk-through inspection, it would help if you explain the reason for it. Also, be sure to back up the labeled files on a hard drive or on a cloud storage system for future reference.
Inspect the Property Before the Initial Walk Through
Before conducting the walk-through with a tenant, you need to go over every aspect of the property to ensure everything functions as it should. During this inspection, you should test every element so as to avoid any issues arising in the first few days of the tenancy.
By ensuring that every element functions optimally, you’ll be in a better position to establish a good relationship and build trust with the tenant. Test all of the appliances and fixtures such as sockets and faucets to avoid any surprises when you conduct the walk-through inspection with your tenant.
During the walk-through inspection, go over the process a second time and request the tenant’s signature that everything is in good condition.
Give the Tenant Some Time
Though you may conduct a thorough inspection, some issues can only be noticed when the property is put to normal use. For example, a damaged kitchen cabinet might only get noticed when the tenant opens it to put away dishes. For this reason, you should give the tenant a few days to see if they might discover any additional issues that require repair. Be sure to document these issues in your notes as part of the initial walk-through inspection.
Stay Up-To-Date with the Landlord-Tenant Laws in Your State
In the state of California, the landlord-tenant laws determine what a landlord can and can’t do when a tenant moves in or vacates a property. The laws specify the amount of security deposit to be collected, the time period for its return, and the circumstances under which deductions can be made.
These laws can also determine who is responsible for certain repairs and how to proceed in a dispute relating to the security deposit. It’s therefore imperative that you understand these laws and the implications they may have on you as a landlord.
Walk-through inspections are completely necessary for you to avoid damage to your property and to reduce the number of disputes relating to the security deposit. A property management company can help you avoid common mistakes and identify issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.
At Home Choice Property Management, we understand what’s involved in property inspections and we strive to maintain your property in excellent working condition. Get in touch with us today for unparalleled property management services in Southern California.