Whether you perform an annual inspection or a move-in/move-out inspection (ideally both!), you need a formal, standardized system. An easy form that you use every time makes the inspection process easy for you and makes sure that you always check the same things every time.
Tenants also want to know what you’re checking and looking for, because the majority of tenants are very concerned about their security deposit. If you don’t have a checklist and need to make one, here’s what it should include.
You can structure your checklist in any way that works for you, but there are a few things it should include:
● A list of what you’ll check in each room
● A section for each separate room. Instead of “Bedrooms” say “Bedroom 1” and “Bedroom 2”
● A space to document move-in condition
● A separate space to document move-out condition
● Cost for repairs -- this helps you keep track and also show your tenant
● Signature space for both parties -- your tenants will get a copy of this at move-in and move-out, while they’ll want if their security deposit return is reduced
● Blank spaces for each room to add special features that aren’t standard in every rental you may have
What to Check
When you do your check, you should look very closely at the condition of the property. Has this gone through typical wear and tear or are there marks, cracks, rips, holes, etc that can only occur through neglect? Did your tenant not report problems that could be fixed? These are questions you need to answer, and the form will help you document what you discover. When making your form be as thorough as possible.
In general, you’ll check the same things in all rooms and these should be listed by room:
● Light fixtures
● Ceiling fans
● Outlets and switches
● Blinds Screens
In the kitchen and bathrooms, you’ll need to add other features:
● Cabinets and drawers
● Appliances (kitchen)
● Toilet/bath/shower (bathroom)
You want to make sure everything works correctly. Turn things on. Open doors. Look inside. Basically, check and look at everything. If you don’t and you return the security deposit, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for anything you find later.
Mechanical and Safety Checks
You need to make sure some of the most important parts of your rental property still work. These things tend to be the most expensive things to repair or replace, too. Even if the tenant isn’t at fault, this helps you know what needs to be done before you find a new tenant.
● Make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
● Check to make sure the electricity and water work properly.
● Locate and check the access to escape routes in the house -- do the doors and windows open and close properly?
● Check the thermostat, hot water heater, and HVAC system to make sure they work well.
● Look at the roof and gutters and check for repairs or replacement.
Every rental will be different, but if you have outdoor amenities and features that the tenant had some responsibility for, you need to check those too. Make sure they’re included on your checklist:
A good checklist will keep you organized, make it easy for you and your tenant to see the condition of a home at a glance, and more quickly calculate whether you’re returning the security deposit or keeping all or some of it. Make sure to give your tenant a copy of the move-in checklist so they can monitor the condition of the rental while they live in it. Remind them that they have a responsibility to do certain upkeep (based on the lease agreement) and to notify you when something stops working or needs repair. This will make the move-out inspection easier for everyone.
Feel overwhelmed at everything that needs to be on your checklist? Worry you might miss something? Work with a property management company who has a solid process and knows how to be thorough at inspection time. Contact ERA American Real Estate today and let us help you manage your rentals.