Landlording & Rental Properties

How to Conduct an Inspection When Your Tenant Moves Out

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Your first impression when you pull up in front of the unit will give you a pretty good indication of how the rest of the property is going to look. If the flower beds and lawn are overgrown, you see broken blinds in the living room window, and there is a pile of garbage in the backyard, brace yourself before going through the front door. If it looks great from the get-go, then congratulations, the rest should be easy!

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When doing the move-out walk-through, inspect the entire property from top to bottom, just like when your tenant moved in. Take pictures (or a video) of everything, including up-close pictures of things you need to remedy; all your visual evidence will come in handy later on if any disputes arise from the tenant regarding deductions from their security deposit.

Related: Follow This Moving-Out Checklist Before Tenants Leave

Things like dusting the trim, wiping down the walls, cleaning out the oven, washing the outside of the appliances, cleaning beneath the refrigerator, and really getting into the corners while deep-cleaning are some common areas tenants miss, so while doing your move-out walk-through, just remember to be thorough so you don’t get stuck with footing the bill for your tenant’s grime.


Related: 5 Ways Landlords Can Achieve Better Tenant Stability

What to Look for When Inspecting the Unit

Here are few other things to look for during the move-out inspection. Some of these can be charged to the tenant—if it is damage or an expense they caused—and others are just general upkeep.

  • Unapproved alterations to the unit, such as changes in paint color
  • Strange odors
  • Evidence of smoking or pets
  • Holes behind doors (from slamming the door open)
  • Holes in doors or walls (we will never understand this one)
  • Fleas and other bug evidence
  • Missing or burnt out light bulbs
  • Missing smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors
  • Missing blinds


Related: How to Raise the Rent on Your Tenants as Painlessly as Possible

Assess the Property for Condition & Needed Improvements

In addition to looking for damages caused by the tenants, now is also a good time to look at the property’s condition and assess what you can do to improve it for the long-haul. You probably will not be able to charge the tenants for the upgrades below, but the tenant turnover period is a great time to improve the condition of your property to keep it running in tip-top shape. Therefore, while doing your walk through, keep an eye out for the following.

  • Does the caulk around the bathtub, shower, or sink need to be redone?
  • Are there any signs of plumbing leaks, roof leaks, or drippy faucets?
  • Are there any signs of mold?
  • Do all the doors open and close easily?
  • Are the carpet and other flooring in good condition, or are they at the end of their life?
  • Is anything outdated that can be replaced to attract more rent and better tenants, such as overhead lights, countertops, fixtures, cabinets, or appliances?
  • Is the exterior of the building in good shape? How’s the paint, siding, and caulking?

[This article is an excerpt from Brandon Turner’s The Book on Managing Rental Properties.]

Any other areas you inspect during tenant move-outs?

Leave your comments below!

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He is a nationally recognized leader in the real estate education space and has tau...
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    Replied over 3 years ago
    If we are talking about vertical blinds, I would not blame tenants for missing blinds. The little hole at the top that holds the blind in place is notoriously flimsy. It does not take much wind to twist the blind clear off.
    Jerome Kaidor Investor from Hayward, California
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Indeed. My daughter demolished most of ours when she was a year old. I took down the six that were still up. We’re waiting till she reaches a more responsible age before putting up new.
    Kimberly H. Residential Real Estate Broker from Chicago Suburbs, Illinois
    Replied over 3 years ago
    There are metal brackets that fix blinds that have the hole torn through, blind repair kit at Menard’s.
    Jerome Kaidor Investor from Hayward, California
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Indeed. My daughter demolished most of ours when she was a year old. I took down the six that were still up. We’re waiting till she reaches a more responsible age before putting up new.
    Jon Loca Rental Property Investor from Saint Paul
    Replied over 3 years ago
    How would one assess the damage of “strange smell” and correctly charge the tenant? For example, I had a situation where because of the smell, I think a renter had a cat without permission, but I didn’t have any proof nor could I assess any damage as nothing was visibly damaged.
    NA Brown from Lansing, Michigan
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Use a black light to detect evidence of cat urine.
    Jessica Renard Real Estate Agent from Hainesport, NJ
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Keep everything original =) And you can be the relaxed version of that writer guy right there.