Many owners have contacted us after dealing with a problem tenant. While finally getting problem tenants out of the property is a sizeable victory, deducting from the security deposit to make repairs may bring new challenges. A comprehensive move in process helps protect your interests and defend against tenant claims that they did not cause the damage.
Here are some tips for helping protect against a tenant claim for a full return of their security deposit:
1. Move in checklist: Provide tenants with a copy of a move in checklist and ask them to mark any damage or issues that they see at move in so that they will not be charged when they move out. California Department of Consumer Affairs provides a checklist free to the public that can help, here (warning: PDF). This is something that you can show to tenants when they move out that helps corroborate the condition of the property at move in.
2. Take Photos: Many landlords take pictures of the property, but many of the pictures are similar to the marketing photos. As many people are aware, landlords try to use photos that help the property look its best. However, for move in condition photos, you want pictures that show the property’s up close details/condition. Take pictures of cracks, chips in the paint, or holes in the wall to compare against the condition of the property when the tenant moves out.
3. Take Video: You don’t need an expensive video camera to take a good quality video nowadays. Many people have smartphones that can take video, but in our experience, many owners fail to use it. Take videos of the property and document the true condition. If a tenant comes claiming the wall had a hole there previously or the floor was already scratched, just show them the video! Video can then be uploaded and stored on cloud storage sites such as Dropbox or Google Drive for free.
Using technology and a simple move in checklist can make the process easier and help you defend any claims that you incorrectly withheld from the deposit or that the damage occured prior to the tenant living there.
Our office provides tenants with a move in checklist as a standard part of our move in process and offers video condition inspections to our clients for a very affordable price. Call our office or fill out the contact form on our website if you’d like us to help you with any step of the process. Feel free to reach out to our office by phone or email if you have any other questions about your current situation or if you want some help moving tenants in or out of your property.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.