A walk through inspection with tenants, especially exit inspections, and whether to give them a heads up is the question. Each week veteran landlord and property manager Hank Rossi answers questions from other landlords and property managers around the country about their rentals.
Dear Landlord Hank:
Could you spell out what is expected at a walk through? I would love to mail a list to give our tenants the heads up!
Dear Landlord Pat,
The exit walk through inspection is done to determine if the tenant has caused any damage to the unit other than “normal wear and tear.”
Also, you want to make sure all the keys, etc are collected, including the mail box key. You’d want to make sure that the unit maintenance the tenant was responsible for, per the lease, has been performed.
In my lease, tenants are responsible for light bulb replacement, furnace filters must be clean, remotes for garage doors, fans, etc must be working, as well as smoke detector batteries and that the unit has been left clean. Clean doesn’t just mean free of junk, trash and debris, but really clean.
Hopefully you will have the original walk through inspection form that you used on lease inception, which you can refer to.
The exit walk through inspection is the “follow-up” inspection to the initial walk through you did when tenant moved in. You want to be just as thorough then as in the beginning.
A walk through inspection is extremely important
Walk through inspections are extremely important. You have a security deposit of the tenant to refund, after you deduct any damage costs.
If you are thorough and professional in the first walk through, the tenants will be confident you won’t be charging them for damage they didn’t cause when they leave.
The day the lease begins, I meet the tenant at the property and the first thing we do is a thorough inspection of the property.
I have a special form I use, and it is dated and the complete address is noted. Any negatives in each room are noted. Or I write “OK” on the inspection sheet. Also I note keys, fobs, garage remotes, etc. and quantity of each given to tenant, and have tenant sign the sheet. I sign it as well.
Email a copy of the checklist
I then email them a copy of the inspection checklist later that day.
I also note that all light bulbs are working, that the property was just painted and that the property was professionally deep cleaned, on the form.
At times I take a photo of an issue. We now have a standard of comparison for when tenant moves out.
If you have even the slightest hint that there could be trouble at lease end, then take loads of photos of everything and save them to your computer (hopefully it’s being backed up regularly).
I try to have all my properties in tip top shape when someone moves in. But, sometimes there may be a minor defect to be noted such as maybe a small chip in a tile, etc.
I tell tenants that I will be doing the walk through when they leave. Now we both know the starting condition of the property.
I want to be fair with tenants
I want to be fair to tenants and not charge them for damage they didn’t cause.
Being a property manager, I have an app on my phone where I can do a property inspection from my phone and email results including all photos to tenants and keep for when tenant moves out.
Photo credit AndreyPopov via istockphoto.com
So, if you wanted to give your tenants a heads up of what to expect, I would email them a copy of the original walk through inspection. That would include any photos of damage or condition of the property that you have, so tenants can remember.
I’d also tell them you’ll be checking lease specified maintenance items (furnace filter) etc.
When I’m doing the exit walk through, I want to be fair to my tenants and to myself.
As an honest businessman, I like to keep everything as transparent as possible, so a well-documented initial walk through inspection will make the exit walk through hopefully painless.
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About the author Landlord Hank:
“I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc , in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta. “ Visit Hank’s website here.