One of the biggest conflicts that can develop between a landlord and a tenant is the return of the tenant’s security deposit. Deductions are often made from a tenant’s security deposit because of damage done to the rental unit. The tenant may believe that they left the property in good condition, but the landlord may feel otherwise. Conducting a walk-through inspection with the tenant can help alleviate
What Is a Walk-Through Inspection?
A walk-through inspection is when a landlord and a tenant go through the rental unit to inspect for any damage or illegal alterations to the unit. The landlord is looking for any damage in excess of normal wear and tear or any changes to the unit that have not been mutually agreed upon, such as changing the paint color. The landlord is comparing the condition of the property to the condition of the property when the tenant moved into the unit.
When Does a Walk-Through Inspection Take Place?
A walk-through inspection takes place when a tenant is moving out of a rental unit. The exact time when this inspection can take place will vary depending on your state laws.In some states, the inspection must take place on the date of the tenant’s move out or two to three days after. Waiting until a tenant has removed all of their possessions from the unit means no damage can be hidden and the landlord can clearly see any potential issues.In other states, a walk-through inspection must be conducted from three days to two weeks prior to a tenant’s move-out. This is done to allow the tenant to make any repairs to the unit prior to their move-out so they can receive their full security deposit back.
Why Does a Walk-Through Inspection Take Place?
A walk-through inspection is done so that a landlord can document the condition of the property. The landlord is trying to determine if damage has been done to the unit that would warrant deductions from the tenant’s security deposit.If this inspection is conducted prior to a tenant’s move-out, the landlord can present the tenant with a list of the deductions that will be taken from his or her security deposit. It allows the tenant to make the necessary repairs to the unit prior to move-out. This walk-through inspection is also done so that the landlord knows what must be fixed before the next tenant moves into the property.
Who Schedules a Walk-Through Inspection?
In states where a walk-through inspection is required by law, it is usually the landlord’ s responsibility to inform the tenant when the walk-through inspection will take place. The landlord must serve the tenant with written notice of this inspection, informing the tenant of the tenant’s right to be present at the inspection and the date and time the inspection will take place.In states such as Georgia and Kentucky, the landlord will first inspect the unit and will write down any potential deductions from the security deposit. The tenant is then given or sent this list and has a specific amount of time to inspect the unit themselves. The tenant can either consent to or disagree with the charges.
Do All States Require a Walk-Through Inspection?
All states do not required a walk-though inspection. You should check your state’s security deposit laws to determine if you must lawfully conduct a walk-through inspection. For example, landlords in Alabama and Colorado are not required to perform a walk-through inspection, while landlords in Arizona and California must perform a walk-through inspection.Even if your state does not require you to conduct a walk-through inspection by law, it is still beneficial to both you and your tenant to do so.
Benefits to Landlords:
Anticipate Repair Costs- The walk-through inspection allows you to determine the repairs that are needed and the approximate cost of these repairs.
Avoid Disputes- Making the tenant aware of the potential deductions that will be taken from their security deposit can help alleviate disputes. They will know what to expect and will not be surprised by the deductions.
Tenant Fixes Damages- Conducting a walk-through prior to a tenant’s move out gives the tenant the opportunity to fix the damages so that deductions are not made from their security deposit.
Benefits to Tenants:
Remedy Damages They Did Not Realize-A walk-through inspection allows a tenant to remedy damages they may not have realized existed.
Get Full Security Deposit Returned- If the tenant fixes the damages the landlord has noted before he or she moves out, the tenant is likely to have their full security deposit returned.
Avoid Disputes- The walk-through inspection informs the tenant of the deductions that will be taken from the tenant’s security deposit so that the tenant is not surprised when he or she does not receive the full security deposit back.