Ah, moving – it’s exciting but generally stressful. And that stress can be compounded if you know you’re due for a move-out inspection.
Worry not, though. Despite your concern over crayon marks in the kids’ room or that drawer pull that keeps coming loose, these inspections can benefit you as much as the landlord, particularly if you were diligent in documentation when you first moved in!
Generally speaking, landlords don’t view the move-out inspection as a “gotcha” moment during which you will be held accountable for every scratch on the linoleum.
Apartment complexes perform inspections for several reasons, one of which is to note normal wear and tear and determine what will need to be done (renovations, upgrades, repairs, etc.) in preparation for the unit’s next tenant.
In many cases (in the state of California, for example) landlords are actually required to perform these inspections, though often – and wisely – most management companies make it routine.
It may seem one-sided, but often a move-out inspection will benefit the tenant when it comes to getting your security deposit returned. Did you receive or make a checklist at move-in? Shoot video of damage or wear and tear? It’s time to get those out to make sure anything your landlord does find was already there.
As for “new” damage, this is the time you and your landlord can hash out quick fixes – wall scuffs that can be painted, nail holes you can fill. These tasks won’t take much time or money but can result in you walking away with the deposit they’ve been holding since you signed your lease.
Remember that normal wear – the carpets aren’t as spiffy or the electric stove burners or bathtub could use a scrub – isn’t anything to worry about. Major stains or holes, however, will likely need to be addressed. If you know something was damaged considerably, it may pay to fix or clean it before the inspection happens.
If you didn’t document the state of your apartment at move-in (well-dictated video or detailed photographs are evidence it would be difficult to refute), remember to do so before the boxes are unpacked in your new place. Create an email folder in which you can save any correspondence about issues or fixes during the time you’re living in the space. Having all this information on record will make your next move-out inspection a far more stress-free experience.