Systems and Routines - Pre-Move Inspections
Systems and routines for your building are very important in having the outcome you want. The more actions that you specify for your property, the more predictable the outcome will be.
Many people with apartments rely on a property manager, myself included. I am also part of a property management team and have clients that have varying expectations about how the apartment is left.
Some people push the envelope and expect the tenant moving out to have the carpet cleaned. The next property owner handles carpet cleaning, but expects it to be otherwise move-in ready clean. Many owners are just happy when there isn't hauling to do and excessive grime.
Whatever the case you fall in, making your expectations clear to your manager (if you have one) and your tenants helps make handling deposit deductions a whole lot easier.
How do you do this?
I suggest creating a template that has all of the items that you expect to happen written out in a paper you can hand or email the tenant. A pre-move inspection happens while things are still in the space and it can be easy to overlook something covered by furniture. Having blanket statements about cleanliness, damage, and personal items left on the property means even a general maintenance person could do a walk-through and hand the resident the paper that has all of the expectations.
A section can look something like this: Cleaning: The apartment should be left in the condition that it was when you moved in. Please make sure to clean appliances, tub, toilet, sinks, baseboards. Hardwood should be swept and carpets should be vacuumed.
Leave space for notes, have a line to write in the address, apartment number, sign, and date the form. I take a picture of the form and hand it to the tenant in the spaces I manage.
Why should you worry about this as a property owner if you have a manager? Handing a property manager a form to use on your property guarantees your expectations to be met. Everyone has different qualities that they prefer in a property manager and this may not be a standardized process. This allows the property manager to enforce your decisions easily.
How does this save you time or money?
1. A past resident will have more trouble claiming you didn't inform them of what they had to do to get their deposit back. It avoids the 'gotcha' some people try to pull such as "You didn't point out that the mirror's glued to the wall had to be removed."
2. This process is standardized for your property and reduces time that you or your manager spends on the property.
This is one of the standard forms that I carry around with me. I can conduct a quick move-out inspection without forgetting something at an office and it easily covers the expectations even if specific damage isn't noticed or pointed out to the resident on that inspection.
I also have an email signature that has brief items listed that I use to sign messages once someone is in the move-out phase.
Though this is not a huge money-saver, it will make it easier to recover damages with less fight, have the apartment left in the condition you want, and make the pre-move out routine even when they are infrequent. This is one of the several standardized forms that is included with an Owner's manual from Tci Building Services.