Understanding the Importance of Property Inspections

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Inspections are crucial to becoming a successful rental property owner. Every time you get a new tenant or say goodbye to a departing tenant, you’ll want to understand adequately the condition of your property. Inspections serve many purposes, but some of the most critical include holding tenants accountable for any damage, remembering to make all necessary repairs, and protecting your interests in case of a future dispute with a tenant.

Move-In Inspection

The move-in inspection is a chance for you and your tenant to get on the same page by walking through the property. This inspection happens before your new tenant begins living on the property. Together, note and photograph any items of concern: if, for instance, a front stoop is chipping and potentially hazardous, you can record it for yourself as an item to fix. Let the tenant know the time-frame in which they can expect you to make such repairs. This sort of discussion can create a formal agreement if you bring your property inspection itemized list with you, and note on there that the tenant is accepting the property “as-is,” with knowledge of pending repairs.

It’s also a chance for the tenant to document pre-existing wear and tear, such as scuffs on walls or floorboards, mildly buckled linoleum in bathrooms and kitchens, or other cosmetic but not health-hazardous issues with the property. A tenant who is participating actively in this inspection will ask that you note any damages so that they aren’t considered as a reason to dock their security deposit later.

However, just because some of these inspection elements are protective for your tenant, that doesn’t mean that there is no benefit to you. Well-kept documentation from this day is best if it is co-signed and dated by both you and the tenant. Then, if new damages appear during the lease, you have a document showing that these damages occurred while the tenant was occupying the property. Documenting the condition of the property from the start gives you an umbrella of protection should there be a dispute.

Move-Out Inspection

The move-out inspection can be two or more inspections. A first “walk-through” inspection can be optional, but very helpful: asking your tenant to let you visit a week or two before move-out can give you the chance to identify any maintenance that you think will be necessary for them to retain their security deposit. Helping tenants understand what your standards are increases the chances that they will comply and make the required repairs before the end of the lease term.

The more traditional move-out inspection happens at the end of the lease. You compare the current state of the rental with its previous state on the move-in inspection and use any changes beyond normal wear to determine how much will be withheld from the returned security deposit. If you discover significant damages that will exceed the security deposit, this is the time when you’ll send a letter to the tenant asking them to remit payment.

However, there are some maintenance elements of a rental that aren’t going to come out of the security deposit because they are considered normal wear and tear for an occupied property.

What is “Normal Wear and Tear”?

Learning what types of damages qualify as “normal wear and tear” is part of your responsibility as a Landlord. For instance, slight discoloration in grout or caulking around the apartment is due to the average life of grout/caulking, because, after a while, that is simply an area that must be replaced. Other examples of normal wear include:

  • Slight discolorations in the carpet that were not there previously.
  • Minor cracks in walls due to the settling of the building.
  • Fading paint from open windows and minor scuff marks.
  • Minor marks on windows and countertops.

Essentially, the regular use of the building means that there will be occasional scuffing, fading, or settling. If you aren’t sure about a particular situation, use a property make-ready checklist to consider whether your needed repair is truly tenant damage.

Inspections Don’t Need to Be Stressful!

When you work with a Dallas property management company, they’ll take over the hassle of conducting property inspections. With years of experience and a well-vetted list of items to check for, your property is in safe hands throughout move-in, move-out, and even seasonal inspections! Let Uptown Dallas help you find the best property management company in the Dallas area with our FREE helpful tips guide! It’s time to love being a landlord again, and we can help!