To avoid disputes and potentially save time and money, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to a final property inspection.
As a landlord, you have various responsibilities which must be upheld. As with most things in this industry, there is state-specific legislation that protects your rights and your tenant’s rights.
You’re entitled to have your property returned to you in a clean and undamaged condition at the end of a tenancy. But remember the difference between deliberate damage caused by recklessness/neglect and fair wear and tear. Your tenant is not responsible for fair wear and tear on the property.
The final inspection
As soon as is possible after the end of a tenancy, you or your property manager must conduct a final inspection of the property, prepare the final condition report describing the condition of the property and then provide a copy of that report to the tenant.
Where possible, your tenant must be given reasonable opportunity to attend this final inspection. It’s in the best interests of both parties to undertake a joint inspection at the time the tenant moves out and to arrange for the return of the property keys.
Use your property condition report
Using the Property Condition Report you prepared at the start of the tenancy, you / the property manager should compare the condition of each item with the original details and discuss any issues such as breakages, damage or items missing with the tenant. You should then work out any outstanding liabilities of the tenant, such as:
- rent arrears;
- outstanding water, gas and electricity bills;
- cleaning costs (if the property was not left in a clean condition); or
- damage to the property and contents belonging to the lessor (if applicable).
Your tenant is liable to compensate you for any wilful or neglectful damage they may have caused. However, unless your tenant has completely caused havoc on your fixtures or fittings, it can be difficult to ascertain an amount to claim for damages to contents. The general rule of thumb is that if the damage can be reasonably repaired, only the repair costs can be charged.
If the damage is severe – i.e. carpet damage that requires replacing, the tenant would be liable to pay for replacing the damaged carpet with one of similar quality to the original. Generally, it’s far more difficult to assess burn marks or stains that cannot be removed. Assessment is going to depend on a few factors, including the age of your property and the size and location of the damage. Where possible, it’s better to negotiate the sum of money to be deducted from the bond as compensation.
Keep it civil
Make every effort to agree with your outgoing tenant on the amount of deductions from the security bond. In the event of a disagreement with the tenant, try to compromise if possible. If this doesn’t go to plan, the disposal of the bond will need to be resolved in your state Magistrate’s Court.
Return of the keys
Your tenant is responsible for returning all sets of keys provided to them at the start of the tenancy. If they don’t return the keys, you can hold them responsible for the cost of changing the locks or charge rent until the keys are returned.