Forgot to do move out inspection, tenant now wants free rent.

16 Replies

My tenant is set to move out next Friday. I made the mistake of assuming that a move out inspection was not required in CA unless a tenant requests it. The tenant is now asking for me to perform a move out inspection on their move out date and basically give them two weeks of free rent so that they can have time to remedy any repairs we find. Giving them two extra weeks would mean I would have to collect the keys from them on Christmas and delay my new tenant from moving in. The tenant is also claiming that they're afraid we're going to charge them for items we said we would fix but never fixed (this isn't true, we fixed the items and there were also a few small items they offered to fix, I have everything documented). I'm not sure how to proceed here. Would it make sense to just return their deposit in full to get them out of the house or? Suggestions? Thoughts?

Hey Julia,

Unless the law specifically states the move out inspection needs to be done two weeks in advance of them moving out, then I would deny them the two weeks of free rent. I would simply email them the move in report now and schedule the move out inspection asap. They are grown people and if something was broken while living there, they should have fixed it or reported it beforehand instead of trying to get out of it by asking for free rent. They had the move in report from the beginning, so it was not like they were unaware of the move in condition. 

If you have everything documented regarding past repair requests, then just move forward with the original move out day and give them nothing outside of what you are required by law. 

Good luck!

@Julia Preciado Cali may be different, but typically the move out inspection is done Agter they have vacated the property.  I’ve never seen the requirement to do a “punch list” inspection in advance for a tenant to do the repairs.  Just look up your state/local laws.

I stand corrected...

https://www.courts.ca.gov/part...

The tenant has this right if they request it, but you are required to notify them of this right, in advance.

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@Julia Preciado

Unless California Law requires a move out inspection in order for the tenant to conduct repairs, I would not comply.  If the inspection is while all there belongings are there in my mind it’s pointless.  Furniture, pictures, throw rugs, etc  covering walls and floors.  If they signed a move in sheet then they know what the condition of the property was.  I think the move out inspection with them while they are still there or right after they move out is full of antagonism.  I conduct them alone and reject the inspection.  It just turns out to be a complaint session.

I never inspect the property until it is empty. How can you see everything with their furniture covering so much.

I also never inspect with them present. I have also never heard of a tenant wanting to repair damage. I wouldn't trust them to repair things correctly.

A move out inspection is done when they move out, not before they move out.  Why would you do a move out inspection before they leave?  There is furniture and stuff in the way and you may miss things, plus they could do damage between when you did the inspection and they actually move out.

If they are moving out at the end of the month, tell them you can do a pre move out inspection, but put it in writing that as their belongings are in the property, you may miss things.

the link provided earlier for California, says you can do an initial inspection, but it is also followed up by a regular inspection after they move out.  There is no mention of when the initial inspection has to be done, so the tenant wanting 2 weeks' free rent is BS.  Also if you did the initial inspection now, they still have 3+ weeks before they move out at the end of the month to fix anything.

@Wayne Brooks @Theresa Harris

Correction: this is a pre move out inspection. I was required to give them the option in writing allowing them at least two weeks to make any necessary repairs. They said they don’t want to waive their right to the inspection and are concerned I’d add items to the repair list that were supposed to be fixed before as agreed to by us when they first moved in. I assured them that those repair items are all documented, I have all the emails to prove the specific items that were repaired in the past. Those items shouldn’t be on the repair list unless they’ve damaged them themselves after being repaired. I’m trying to get them to agree to a pre move out inspection tomorrow. If there’s only minor repairs, having til their move out day (Friday)to remedy repairs sounds reasonable. I’m not sure if they’ll agree to it but I’m not sure what else to do to avoid their staying another two weeks. 

Originally posted by @Julia Preciado:

My tenant is set to move out next Friday. I made the mistake of assuming that a move out inspection was not required in CA unless a tenant requests it. The tenant is now asking for me to perform a move out inspection on their move out date and basically give them two weeks of free rent so that they can have time to remedy any repairs we find. Giving them two extra weeks would mean I would have to collect the keys from them on Christmas and delay my new tenant from moving in. The tenant is also claiming that they're afraid we're going to charge them for items we said we would fix but never fixed (this isn't true, we fixed the items and there were also a few small items they offered to fix, I have everything documented). I'm not sure how to proceed here. Would it make sense to just return their deposit in full to get them out of the house or? Suggestions? Thoughts?

Julia, I will start by stating the obvious: you are in the most heavily regulated, Tenant friendly state in America and had better know the laws inside and out if you want to do well. NOLO produces an excellent book, "Every Landlord's Legal Guide", that is full of practical advice and leads you to the actual state laws so you can read them for yourself. They also have a very helpful website. How heavily regulated is California? NOLO produces two books: one covers California and the other covers the remaining 49 states! There are a TON of Landlord/Tenant sites available, most of them provided by your State, City, or County. Research and take advantage of this free information because I can assure you there are some savvy renters out there that will rake you over the coals if you make one mistake.

If you do a Google search for "California Landlord law" you will get plenty of resources to start with. Here's just one example: https://www.courts.ca.gov/docu...

I'm no expert, but it appears your tenant can request a "pre-inspection" up to two weeks prior to departure to get an idea of what they can expect and for you to give them cleaning tips. This is an opportunity for you to forecast what will be needed but DO NOT make any promises about what will be returned; tell them you can't make the final decision until they have vacated and you have an opportunity to inspect a vacant unit. I didn't read the entire document but page 58 has a good example of the move-out inspection process.

The tenants are required to vacate by the termination date. You are not required to give them additional cleaning time, and you should make that very clear to them. They should do their best prior to turning in the keys. After they turn in the keys, the clock is ticking for you to clean and repair the rental and charge the departing tenant. If they want "extra time" to make corrections, the solution is for them to move out a week early, let you do a pre-inspection and identify problems, and then they have a week to make corrections before the lease terminates.

Buy the NOLO California Landlord's Law Book. It's the best $35 you'll spend as a Landlord.

@Nathan G. Thank you so much for that information and your reply. The tenants should have received a pre move out inspection option in writing allowing them 2 weeks to make repairs, of which I mistakingly forgot to give them. Staying two weeks after their move out date is not only creating us to go beyond an expired lease(not sure what other problems that creates) but it’s the equivalent of a prorated amount of $1100. It would probably be less costly to agree to give them their full deposit on move out day, no?

Originally posted by @Julia Preciado:

@Nathan G. Thank you so much for that information and your reply. The tenants should have received a pre move out inspection option in writing allowing them 2 weeks to make repairs, of which I mistakingly forgot to give them. Staying two weeks after their move out date is not only creating us to go beyond an expired lease(not sure what other problems that creates) but it’s the equivalent of a prorated amount of $1100. It would probably be less costly to agree to give them their full deposit on move out day, no?

If you don't anticipate a lot of major repairs/renovations, then it would probably be easier to just give them a full refund. I wouldn't tell them that until they are out, however.

@Julia Preciado since this is your mistake I would just return the entire deposit to them.  If you are going to anticipate damages then give the tenant the 2 week notice and let them do any needed repairs once the have vacated - you could schedule a time to meet them to allow them access.   But I generally find repairs done by tenants have to be redone. Cleaning is a different matter - i personally would allow them the opportunity to clean....  

A heads up - before you send out your deposit accounting read the CA laws very carefully -  thankfully laws are changing to protect tenants from over charges from the security deposit - but this means there are very strict laws regarding this. 

I also suggest before you sign a new lease that you read the CA  LL/tenant law and sign up for your local rental owners association so you can take classes and get some solid education. 

Originally posted by @Julia Preciado:

@Wayne Brooks @Theresa Harris

Correction: this is a pre move out inspection. I was required to give them the option in writing allowing them at least two weeks to make any necessary repairs. They said they don’t want to waive their right to the inspection and are concerned I’d add items to the repair list that were supposed to be fixed before as agreed to by us when they first moved in. I assured them that those repair items are all documented, I have all the emails to prove the specific items that were repaired in the past. Those items shouldn’t be on the repair list unless they’ve damaged them themselves after being repaired. I’m trying to get them to agree to a pre move out inspection tomorrow. If there’s only minor repairs, having til their move out day (Friday)to remedy repairs sounds reasonable. I’m not sure if they’ll agree to it but I’m not sure what else to do to avoid their staying another two weeks. 

 If they are to move out in Friday (and paid rent up to and including Friday) and then they stay another two weeks-you take that amount of rent from their deposit when they leave plain and simple.  Also if they do stay another two weeks, that suggests that they have not found another place to live.  

Also look at the wording-if it says up to two weeks, that doesn't mean it has to be two weeks, simply that you can't do it before that.

Originally posted by @Julia Preciado:

It would probably be less costly to agree to give them their full deposit on move out day, no?

No. Do you have any idea what condition the place is in? If you are very confident, then maybe go ahead, but these tenants sound squirrelly to me....I'd be suspicious. And as Nathan said, you live in The Worst state for landlords.......if you insist on doing business there, you'd better make sure you know the rules of the game...you may have got off easy this time....

All very thoughtful replies from our savvy colleagues.  Just a coupla other thots:

1). Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered-free rent, fat chance!  Returning a majority of their security if it is just wear and tear that you would fix anyway (paint, carpet, deep cleaning) ALWAYS beats an eviction proceeding, especially here in California.

2).  This pearl of wisdom was gleaned from another landlord brother here on BP.  Do quarterly 'HVAC,infestation, whatever-excuse-you-can-come-up-with' required visits to do maintenance/assess how they are treating your sacred investment.  Anything/any crap they have done that you find in these visits needs to be fixed in 48 hours or it is a breach of the lease.  

This will make this current situation moot, and give all of us more peace of mind as these, our beloved tenants, keep making our mortgage payments and thus making us rich!

My 0.02. . . 

Merry Christmas all,

Tevis

Originally posted by @Tevis Verrett:

 our beloved tenants, keep making our mortgage payments and thus making us rich!

Reason #2,456,211 why tenants hate landlords - gloating over "getting rich" off the backs of tenants (this is how they see it) -

I long ago made a policy where I will not under any circumstances comment on the amount of security deposit I plan to return until after the keys are on the table and the tenant is gone.

Now I HAVE done a quick walk through in the week BEFORE move out to give my general opinion of the condition of the property, and any specific things I see that I MAY consider after move out. I only do this if I have time, I like the tenants, and only verbally.

I've found the only tenants who ask are the ones who know they're losing money.