The Right Way to Do a Walk-Through

 Many property management problems can be avoided with one simple procedure: the tenant walk-through.

The walk-through is simply a way to record — and prove — the condition of the rental property.  This information is recorded on a Move In/Out Checklist.

With this completed form in hand, you can avoid most security deposit disputes, spend less time rehabbing your rentals, and reduce the amount of time a property sits vacant.

Here are some tips to follow when conducting tenant walk-through’s:

1. To be an effective record, you must record the condition of the property at move in and again at  move out.  Use the same Move In/Out Checklist,  like the one available on our Landlord Forms Page, for both inspections.

2. While it’s not exactly a case for CSI, do get into the habit of taking photos or videos of the “scene” when a tenant moves in, and again at move out to make it easier to see the damage, and to prove when the damage occurred.

3. Involve the tenant in both the move in and move out inspections. It’s appropriate to invite the tenant to make notes on the form, especially at move in. That way, the absence of any notes regarding damage at move in can quell a security deposit dispute later on.

4. Remind a tenant well in advance of a planned move out that all their belongings will need to be out before the final walk-through. Encourage the tenant to be present at that time. If the tenant is experiencing selective memory regarding damage, show them the move in photos so they can see for themselves the damage they caused. This reduces the chances they’ll file a small claims for the deposit deductions.

5. Keep a record of any changes to the unit throughout the term of the lease, including repairs, routine maintenance, and tenant complaints.

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