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Why are Inspections Important for Rentals?

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, properly done inspections of a rental property can benefit you by keeping the property in good order and by documenting the condition when moving in and moving out.

Inspections are not just for tenant entry and exit.  Keeping property maintained, responding to maintenance requests, and using those occasions to keep an eye for property condition are also in everyone’s best interest.

Inspections can be done the old-fashioned way, in detail, with a clipboard. However digital inspections are becoming more common, as they provide more detail, photos, time stamps, and other records of an event. Instead of a clipboard, the landlord carries a tablet equipped with software for inspections.

For example, when a family moves into an apartment, the property manager conducts an inspection, timestamping photos of each room. When the family moves out, an inspection that shows damage that was unreported and not present at the time of move in can be proved, and there is justification for withholding a portion of the security deposit to cover damage.

In addition, when repairs are done, time-stamped inspections can document the occurrence.  Suppose the railing on the back stairs need repaired.  Documenting the repair and timestamping it can show if the railing was damaged at the time a tenant claims to have fallen because of the loose railing, or if the tenant’s claim is shown to be after the repair had occurred and been documented. 

When landlords and property managers utilize digital inspections, there is less likelihood that photos will be lost and paperwork will be buried.  The information is stored in an organized and accessible manner. You don’t have to worry about a hodge-podge of sources – paper, emails, photos on a cell phone that is gone. With the best software, you have cloud based documentation, that can be stored and backed up.

Tenants benefit as well from well documented inspections.  For example, if a previous tenant’s pet chewed a door or a baseboard, that damage shows at the move in inspection.  It is documented, and upon moving out, the tenant will not be held responsible for damage by their pet when in fact the damage occurred previously.

These are incentives for landlords and property managers to keep up with property maintenance and document what they are doing, and for tenants to report the necessity for repairs in a responsible and timely manner.

By John Austin

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