How to document your rental property condition

Real Estate Broker/Owner with American West Realty & Management 12599

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:



Property Inspection Checklist

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!

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Nathan Gesner, American West Realty


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Joan Cox
Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Nathan, I don't do property management, but have had buyers purchase rental properties, and they use video supplemented by some notes on condition.

Jan 16, 2017 06:23 AM #1
Jim Smith
The Property Management Company - Round Rock, TX

We also document, through photos and video, both the pre- and post occupation.  We do, however, do one more step:  we have an independent third-party also do a pre- and post move-out report (at the Tenants expense) to provide documentation that is not biased.  This has been part of our policy and  for a couple of years now, and it has more than earned it's worth.  (they are a NARPM vendor).

Jan 16, 2017 06:28 AM #2
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Good morning, Nathan -- I like your approach.  If it isn't documented correctly, there can be lots of finger pointing and that doesn't typically end well.  

Jan 16, 2017 07:55 AM #3
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

I like to use all 3, a list, pictures and video Nathan Gesner 

Jan 16, 2017 08:17 AM #4
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty & Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

Joan Cox and Michael Jacobs and Scott Godzyk thank you for commenting!

Jim Smith I've heard of that but in my small market it's just not an option for me. If you remember, I recently asked you about Texas regulations because you guys really do it right!


Jan 16, 2017 08:32 AM #5
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Nathan. When I was a landlord, before digital cameras, I would take a set of photos and mail them to myself. I wouldn't open them but if I needed proof in court, the judge could see the postmark and open them.

Jan 16, 2017 09:12 AM #6
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Nathan Gesner

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