Tenant Move Out Inspection – What To Know Before They Go

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When a tenant is moving out, they are usually eager to get as much of their security deposit back as they can. However, most tenants leave behind some damage to the rental property. A tenant move out inspection is a way for the landlord to evaluate how much damage has been done so they can deduct that from the security deposit.

Many landlords use a checklist with the move out inspection, but is it better to do so with the tenant or alone?

We covered in depth how to do a move in inspection but this post will be specifically about a landlord move out inspection.

Much of this is covered in the video below and we will provide further text to sumarize the video.

Benefits of a Move Out Inspection With the Tenant

Landlords that choose to do the move out inspection with the tenant present think its a good idea for several reasons. The first advantage is that both sides are present and can review the unit together. This avoids denials, accusations and more from both the landlord and the tenant with regards to damages. The tenant knows what damages the landlord is counting. The landlord doesn’t have to deal with the back and forth that often results with refunding the security deposit.

Another advantage to doing a move out inspection with a tenant is that the landlord can get their signature on the move out checklist. They also have the opportunity to get the tenant’s forwarding address and contact information. Once the tenant is gone, this can be difficult to track down.

Landlords should always take date stamped photos of any damages, with or without the tenant present.

Benefits of a Move Out Inspection Without the Tenant

The main reason why many landlords choose to do a move out inspection without the tenant present has to do with time. Landlords may feel as if they are rushed or don’t have enough of a window to do a really good inspection when the tenant is there. Often, tenants try to hide or cover up damages that aren’t discovered until later.

Another advantage of doing a move out inspection without a tenant is that it can be difficult to coordinate schedules. Landlords can do the inspection whenever they want after the tenant turns over the keys. Experts recommend doing an inspection within a day or two.

It’s especially important for landlords to take date stamped photos of all damages to the unit in case the tenant contests them.

RentPrep’s Take on a Move Out Inspection With the Tenant

There’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to doing a move out inspection with the tenant or without. Ultimately, the inspection itself is the important part. Landlords should always follow a checklist that includes lots of details about the unit. They should never be in a hurry to do the inspection. Too many problems will be missed if they rush.

RentPrep also advises landlords to never hand over the security deposit refund to the tenant at the move out inspection. States allow anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more to refund the deposit. This gives landlords time to really make sure the unit’s damages have all been discovered.

Make sure you’re researching when the security deposit must be returned. This can be city specific as shown by the NYC Laws.