If it's not in writing, it doesn't exist!
If you want to protect your rental property, you must keep strong documentation. How should you do that? You could use a printed checklist. This is a simple way to walk through the rental, with or without the tenant, and document what you find. Here's a sample:
There are a couple reasons I don't like this. First, it's time-consuming. Second, you have to keep track of the paper. Third, it's not easy to read words on a page and correlate that to what you see with your eyes. I provide a paper checklist to all my tenants and encourage them to use it - or some other tool - to document the condition. But I personally prefer video or photographs.
Before a tenant ever moves in, I document the condition of the home in detail. I take pictures of the outside from every angle, ensuring I capture the condition of the lawn, sidewalk, driveway, home siding, roof, doors and windows, etc. Then I walk through the home and methodically document every room. I take a picture of every wall, window, window dressings, ceiling, floor, doors (front and back) and closet interiors. Then I take close-up photos of any existing damage. I repeat this throughout the entire house. Thanks to digital cameras, there is no limitation to how many photos I can take. The average apartment will have around 150 and a home will have 250. When the tenant moves out, I take another set of pictures and can easily compare whether they are responsible for any cleaning or repairs. Easy!
I use video for advertising rentals but I also use it for some move-out inspections. Why? Because it's easy to prove my case before the Tenant ever complains or takes me to court. If I walk into a rental and see the tenant moved out without doing any cleaning or they left some damages, I'll conduct a quick walk-through video. I upload the video to a private YouTube channel and then email the Tenant a link so they can view it. They may huff and puff, but the evidence is clear and I've never had anyone complain about deductions from their deposit. When it comes to protecting an investment property, you can't be too careful! If you need a professional property manager in Cody Wyoming, contact us to earn more about our services and how we can protect you!