There is one thing that can always be said about any property inspection: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In the age of the smartphone, there is no reason not to have pictures and even video of every major area of your rental property.
Any less that perfect items can be easily described but they must be documented with pictures. This inspection becomes the basis for the move out inspection that then determines what you can charge for damages and what you have to write off as normal wear and tear.
Without pictures it becomes a finger pointing match in Small Claims Court.
We once had a tenant who had a dog that literally urinated in every room with carpet in the house and the entire house smelled like dog urine. The problem was that the carpet looked fine since they had it cleaned and the smell doesn’t translate in a picture or video. But a black light and video walk through will clearly display the evidence of dog urine in carpet.
Taking a 60 second video showing all the dog or cat urine in a home with a black light and then sending that video to the past tenant will typically shut down any protests about how the deposit disposition was spent on replacing the carpet.
This is one simple example of how documenting the property prior to move-in is critical.
Once the inspection is done and well documented, it’s time to move the tenant into the property.
The process of moving a tenant into your rental property should take no more than 60-90 minutes if you have done your job prior to the day the tenant takes possession of the property. We suggest doing the pre-move in inspection prior to move in day so you can take your time and you don’t have the new resident following you around nitpicking the house.
If you use an iPad for your inspections, you can review it with the tenant and make any additions they call out during the move in process. You should have them sign the move in inspection and then mail it to them.
Give them a finite period, such as 7-10 days, to make any additional notes on the move in inspection in case anything gets missed on the big day. If they don’t make any changes, you have their signature on the document stating that they agree with the contents of the move in inspection report as it stands.
Always collect the funds via cashiers check or money order if you are collecting them on the day you are giving possession to the tenant.
Be careful not to accept any funds via ACH or regular check within 7-10 days of the tenant moving in, as those payments can sometimes take a very long time to bounce. There is nothing worse than moving a tenant into a property and immediately having a tenant behind in rent!
Be prepared to walk the tenant through the house explaining all the main systems. They need to know how the thermostat works, how to shut off the gas and water in an emergency and what to do if their garage door won’t open. Spending a little time on the front end will go a long way to both establish a good working relationship with the tenant and hopefully save you from having to deal with unnecessary service calls during their tenancy.
Remember, once you turn over possession to the tenant it is legally their property from a possession standpoint. You may still own it, but you can no longer access it as you did when it was vacant. Do not use a spare key or worse just walk into the home. You need to get verbal consent to enter the home or post a 24-hour notice of entry before doing anything inside the property as long as the tenant has possession.
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