The move-in and move-out process are both all-important when you’re managing a rental property in Georgia. Today, we’re talking about how you should handle these inspections.
Move-In Process: Be Present
There are a couple of ways to conduct a move-in inspection. You can have the resident come to the office and collect the keys and a move-in form, sending them on their way to do the inspection themselves. Or, you can meet them at the property and conduct the survey yourself. While having a resident complete the inspection is cost effective and efficient, it’s not the best way. Every inspection will be done differently, and there will be no consistency from one inspection to the next. Writing on the checklist may not be legible, which could lead to disputes. A lot of damage happens during the move-in process, so if the tenant damages something while moving in, he or she can place those damages on the move-in inspection report. Or, the resident may not return the inspection report for days, weeks, or even not at all. When they do give it back to you, there may be lists of damages that were not there prior to moving in.
Conduct a Thorough Move-In Inspection
Best practices dictate you meet the resident at the home to do the inspection. We meet the resident at the house on an agreed upon move-in date. Then we do a thorough step-by-step review, where we document every single nick and ding. The tenant can’t come to us at move-out and claim that damage existed prior to move-in. We will look at our inspection report to prove otherwise.
A good move-in checklist includes showing the tenant how and where to change filters. You’d be amazed at the number of people who don’t know how to do this. We also show the tenant where and how to shut off the main water valve in case there’s an emergency requiring them to do so. We test smoke detectors and mechanical devices. We also deliver the tenant handbook with rules and responsibilities. It’s also a good opportunity to provide the tenants with a copy of HOA covenants and restrictions. The tenant signs a form to agree that everything is in good working order.
Security Deposit Disputes
Here’s a word of caution – the number one reason residents take legal action against landlords is disputes over security deposits. If a landlord does not follow proper move-in and move-out procedures, in Georgia they can be liable for triple damages, court costs, and attorney fees. It’s critical that the landlord follows the letter of the law when dealing with security deposits.
In Georgia, it’s helpful when the tenant is present but not mandatory. All damages that didn’t exist prior to moving in are documented on the move-out inspection. Keys, remotes, and pool passes must be returned or the resident has to pay to replace them. Ask your tenants if they are aware of any current problems at the house that aren’t obvious. If the resident was not present at the move-out inspection or won’t sign the inspection, we’ll mail a copy of it to them within three days. Within 30 days, we send a detailed list of the costs to repair any damaged items, and how much of their deposit they will get back. If there are no damages, we make every effort to return the security deposit as quickly as possible.
If you have any questions about move-in and move-out procedures, please contact us at Haas Properties.