15 Things to Check Before Your Tenant Leaves: A Visual Inspection Guide for Landlords
What to look for in a final walkthrough
1. Ceiling & Walls
The ceilings of a property can often be forgotten, but it is important that landlords check them for signs of water damage during a final inspection.
The walls should also be examined for peeling paint or wallpaper, cracks or stains. Walls can often be left with nail holes and discoloration once the tenants have removed their hanging decoration and electrical fixtures or appliances.
2. Flooring & Carpets
Landlords should look at the property’s flooring for discolorations on wood or carpet. It is important to move furniture out of the way to allow any damage or fading to show properly.
3. Windows & Blinds
During the final inspection, landlords should make sure all of the property’s windows and blinds are functional. Windows should open smoothly and any screens or blinds should work as intended.
4. Doors & Locks
Doors, just like windows, should open and close smoothly and landlords should verify that knobs, bells, locks, and other security systems work effectively.
5. Furniture & Mirrors
Furniture that is listed as part of the property’s inventory, which can include items large or small, from mirrors to paintings and sofas, should be clean and in the same condition that it was in when the tenants first moved in, save for normal wear and tear.
Dealing with tenants who leave their furniture behind
An unfortunately frequent occurrence that landlords have to deal with is when tenants leave their personal furniture and other possessions behind. Even if landlords do not have the storage for them, they are obliged by law to notify tenants that they are holding onto it until it is reclaimed.
If a tenant is unresponsive or fails to remove their items, landlords are entitled to dispose of the property as they see fit, i.e. by selling, donating, throwing it away, or keeping it.
During the final inspection, landlords should ensure that everything is in order with the electricity in their property by checking plug sockets, ceiling and exhaust fans, and the circuit breaker. All light switches should be turned on and off to ensure they are working and outlets can be easily tested by plugging in a phone to see if it is charging or not.
All of the property’s water fixtures should be tested by landlords during the final inspection. This includes all sinks and faucets, the toilet, the bath, shower, and even the toilet bowl, along with any irrigation systems. Landlords should ensure faucets turn on smoothly and have both hot and cold water. Toilets should flush properly and there should be no leaks.
8. Large & Small Household Appliances
Landlords should deal with large and small household appliances the same way as with furniture. Household appliances that come with the property and are listed in the inventory should all be there during the final inspection. The appliances should be clean and in good condition, save for normal wear and tear, and they should be tested.
Any utensils that are listed in the chattels list as part of the property should also all be there during the final inspection. Even though it is time-consuming, landlords should take the time to properly count everything carefully to compare it against their inventory.
No matter the weather outside, landlords should test out the heating during the final walkthrough. All heating sources should be working properly with no problems.
11. Air Conditioner
Landlords are not required by law to provide air conditioning. However, air conditioning is generally considered by tenants to be a useful amenity, especially during the hot season.
If air conditioning goes out of order due to wear and tear, it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix or to replace it and to cover the costs. However, if the damage has been caused by the tenant’s neglectful behavior, then the tenant can either directly pay the service technician, or the corresponding sum gets deducted from the security deposit.
12. Food rests & Garbage
It is a good idea for landlords to check that the garbage disposal unit is working while inspecting the property – something which can be easily overlooked.
If the property has a garage, landlords should ensure its doors (and remote, if there is one) work, opening and closing easily.
The yard or garden is another area that can sometimes be overlooked when landlords find themselves busy checking a property’s interior. Any outdoor areas that come with property should be reasonably clear, with no shed tools or garden furniture left behind.
When landlords visit their property for the final walkthrough, all rooms should be evidently clean with no litter or debris. Cabinets and closets must have been emptied and the walls, ceilings, and floors wiped, while light and other fixtures should be in working order.
The final cleaning: Whose responsibility is it?
End of tenancy cleaning is a regularly disputed issue, albeit one that can be effectively solved by clear stipulations in the lease agreement. Tenants who are leaving must return a clean property to the landlord. It is up to and within the tenants’ rights if they choose to either do their own cleaning or use a cleaning service, but the expectation is for the landlord to receive the property in the condition it was handed in to the tenant.
A landlord can charge a tenant cleaning fees if the property has not been left in a hygienic state.
Charging for cleaning
One of the most common deductions from the security deposit by landlords is for cleaning when a tenant moves out. The amount that landlords charge for cleaning depends on the condition of the unit, as well as the size of the property, but generally ranges from $200 to $500. Additional services, such as carpet cleaning, are charged extra and not covered by a regular cleaning fee.