Departing Tenants Want Attorney to Attend the Move-Out Inspection

by Wallace Gibson, CPM, GRI

landlord helpOne of the pitfalls of the Internet is that there are common misconceptions about the move-out inspection.

In California, tenants can request a pre-move-out inspection so they are given time to correct any deficiencies and mitigate damages taken from their security deposit.

But in Virginia, we actually have two codes that govern the landlord-tenant relationship.  One is fairly strict and its use is triggered by the number of rental properties owned.  One is common law, and is used by smart landlords (and their property managers) with less than 10 rental units.

My rental units fall under the common law statutes so I define the check-out inspection for residents. My procedure is outlined in my Resident Handbook which accompanies the lease and is included in the lease by reference. My residents have knowledge of this inspection procedure at the time they sign the lease.

Residents of 2 years are now leaving the area and moving 5+ hours away. They have been e-mailing me for several months and want to change my move out inspection procedure. I have 20 properties turning over in the next 2 weeks and I want to be fair to all of these residents and allow them to attend my move-out inspection, if they follow the procedures.

Now their attorney has written me a letter requesting that he be notified of the inspection time after they return their property keys.

I have responded that I do not see the value to his clients/my departing residents of his attending the inspection. My move-out inspection with departing residents is to allow them to advise me why the property is in the condition it is in. I have 45 days to clean, repair damage and account for their security deposit in writing.

I do NOT have to find all damage/cleaning items in the 30 to 45 minutes inspection.

I do NOT have to allow them re-entry into the property to rectify any defects.

I do NOT have to advise them how much of their deposit they will be getting back.

Five years ago, I had a resident attempt to videotape our move-out inspection showing his wife on her hands and knees pulling weeds in 90 degree heat–they are now divorced.

So I have responded to these current residents’ attorney that he should accompany his clients/my residents on a property inspection prior to them returning their keys to me and that if he still wants to view the property with me, I’ll notify him of the time the property owner and I have agreed to meet at the property this coming weekend.

These tenants are probably spending more in attorney fees than if they had just followed my cleaning move-out instructions.

Wallace Gibson, CPM, GRI, is the owner/broker of Gibson Management Group, Ltd., a full-service property management company offering 45 years of professional property management services for investment property owners in Central Virginia“Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Louisa and Greene counties. Her firms website is and she blogs at


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