Do you understand your rights and obligations when it comes to a final property inspection? Here’s how to avoid disputes and potentially save money and time.

What is a final property inspection? 

A final inspection is what you carry out once your tenant has ended their tenancy and delivered a vacant property. An important part of this process is comparing the condition of the property against the original Property Condition Report.

The Property Condition Report, or PCR, is a report you and your tenant both carry out before they move into the property. It’s a comprehensive document that details your property’s condition, along with any damages present before the tenant moves in.

In short, a PCR is a detailed list of every item within a property. This includes fixtures and fittings, cupboards, windows, doors, included kitchen appliances and furniture, and their condition. This document is normally supported by photographs and provides you with tangible evidence of the exact contents and condition of a property when a tenant first moves in.

If you’re self-managing, ensure you carry the final report out thoroughly as it’s a common area of dispute for tenants. Where possible, you must give your tenant a reasonable opportunity to be present for this final inspection and to arrange for the return of the keys.

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The final inspection: A bit of theory

As a landlord, you have to uphold several responsibilities. Of course, as with most things in the property management industry, there is state and territory-specific legislation to protect your rights and your tenant’s rights.

How to check the Property Condition Report

During the final inspection, carefully tick off every item in the house against the PCR list. It’s a great idea to use a rental property management agency for this purpose to make the job easier, but many landlords will choose to do this themselves.

To properly conduct a PCR check, you should inspect the property room by room. Take notes and photographs, while checking things such as the integrity of the floor, walls and ceiling, looking for any surface damage or stains.

You should compare the state of the property against the photographs attached to the PCR list created when the tenant first moved in.

Property damage vs Fair wear and tear

You’re entitled to have your property returned to you in a clean and undamaged condition at the end of a tenancy. There is, however, a difference between deliberate damage caused by recklessness and neglect and fair wear and tear. Your tenant is not responsible for fair wear and tear on your property.

Normal wear and tear is different to damage caused by tenants. Normal wear and tear occur naturally over time, but damage is the result of negligence, carelessness or abuse. For example, a carpet that has faded due to sunlight exposure classes as fair wear and tear, whereas food and drink stains on a carpet would be considered tenant-caused damage. You can use your tenant’s rental bond to pay for repairs necessary due to damage.

How do I calculate fair wear and tear?

This step can be challenging for landlords. Take into consideration factors such as the length of a tenancy, as well as the age of the property, which can naturally impact the condition of the property. Most items have a seven-year depreciation lifespan schedule when it comes to residential tenancy matters. There are many different scenarios you can encounter, but it’s always best to discuss them with your property manager who will best be able to guide you.

Who should attend the final inspection?

It is both with your rights (and obligations) and the right of your tenant to attend the final inspection. Ideally, try to arrange a time that works for both of you to do the inspection together. This date should take place after the tenant moves their belongings out and has finished cleaning the property.

If your tenant can’t attend the final walkthrough, take as many photos as possible and send them to the tenant (along with any notes) if any issues become apparent. This will help to ensure there’s no conflict.

What to look for at the final inspection

  • Aircon & heating: Check the aircon and heating during the final walkthrough. All sources should be working without issue. If air conditioning goes out of order due to fair wear and tear, it’s your responsibility to replace it and cover the costs.
  • Ceiling & walls: Check them for water damage, peeing paint or wallpaper, cracks or stains. Walls can often be left with nail holes.
  • Cleaning: All rooms should be evidently clean with no litter or debris. Cabinets and closest must have been emptied and the walls, ceilings and floors wiped, while all lights and fixtures should be in working order.
  • Doors & locks: Just like windows, doors should open and close smoothly. Check that knobs, bells, locks and other security systems work effectively.
  • Electricity: Check plug sockets, ceiling and exhaust fans and the circuit breaker. All light switches should be turned on and off to ensure they’re working. Outlets can be quickly tested by plugging in a phone to see if it charges or not.
  • Flooring & carpets: Look at the flooring for discolourations on wood or carpet.
  • Furniture & mirrors: Included furnishings should be left clean and in the same condition as they were when the tenants first moved in, save for normal wear and tear.
  • Garage: If your property has a garage, check that the doors and remote work, opening and closing easily.
  • Garden: A garden can often get overlooked when you’re busy checking the property’s interior. Any outdoor areas should be left reasonably clear with no shed tools or garden furniture left behind.
  • Utensils: Any included utensils that were listed as part of the PCR should all be there during the inspection. It’s time-consuming, but you should take the time to count everything and compare it against your inventory.
  • Water: Test any water fixtures during the inspection. Faucets should turn on smoothly and have both hot and cold water. Toilets should flush properly and there should be no leaks.
  • Windows & blinds: Make sure all windows and blinds are functional. Windows should open smoothly and any screens or blinds should work as intended.

Be attentive, but civil and fair

Where possible, make every effort to agree with your vacating tenant on deductions from their rental bond. If you cannot agree, try to compromise. If this still doesn’t go to plan, the bond disposal will need to be resolved in your state Magistrate’s Court.

Return of the keys

At the end of the tenancy, your tenant is responsible for returning all sets of keys provided to them. If they don’t return the keys, you can hold them accountable for the cost of changing the locks or charge them rent until the keys are returned.

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  1. In WA is it legal for the final inspection to be done by the agent alone only this was done after the tenant moved out

    • Hi Patricia,

      As soon as possible after the end of the tenancy, and in any event within 14 days, the property manager must conduct a final inspection of the property, prepare a final property condition report describing the condition of the property and provide a copy to the tenant. You (as the tenant) must be given a reasonable opportunity to be present at the final inspection. It is 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 keys. Hope this helps!

  2. Are the tenants liable to pay for rent if they have requested the keys to the property to rectify any issues listed in the final inspection report?

  3. What should I do if my leaser did not lodge the bond with Bond Administration? How can I get my money back? I am pretty sure she will hold a big part of the bond without any reason.

  4. Hi, I moved out of a house in QLD about 2 months ago. After leaving the real estate conducted the final condition report on there own, and came to the conclusion that they were going to take the full amount of bond money ($2000) without actually giving me any reasons. All though I thought this was unfair I let it go and let them have the money with no dispute. Now 2 months later they have contacted me saying that I need to pay a further $300 to repair some lights which I know for a fact were all working properly when I left. Can they do that?

  5. Hi. I was just wondering if the owner can have tradesman in the house while I’m waiting for my bond to be finalized and the exit report to be finalized.

  6. How long must i wait for the portion of bond to be repaid for the tenants willful damage and neglect to my property. i have waited over 30-days now and the excuse he is FIFO, but surely there is a postal service?

  7. If the landlord gives a in home care worker a spare key he gets fired later by that landlords tenant and worker refuses to return the key back to the landlord what is that called? how can I protect my rights as the tenant?

  8. HI there – what happens if the landlord does not complete the exit report within 14 days? We have just been handed ours 16 days after we handed in the keys

  9. Not sure if there is anything that can be done now. We moved 4 hours away from our family home due to work. We rented our house out through an agent, for 2 and a half years. We put our house on the market and the tenant decided to move out. The real estate returned the bond to the tenant saying the house was satisfactory. We stayed at our home 3 weeks after the tenant had moved out. To say we are disappointed is an understatement. We have a very bad cockroach infestation. Damage to windows screens and doors. Windows were absolutely filthy, carpets were full of dirt in areas. Food particles left on our plates and cutlery. Oil stains in garage, the list goes on. Also we haven’t had our garage remote returned. Emailed the real estate almost a week ago and still haven’t received a reply.

  10. How long does the tenant have to rectify any issues found on final inspection before it becomes a matter of withholding the bond to have it restored?

  11. Also interested to know this, specifically for NSW. If the tenant is not given the opportunity to attend final inspection and then notified of issues to be resolved, is there a reasonable/mandatory period of time required to be given to allow the tenant the opportunity to resolve the issues?

  12. The person handling the rental property did a final inspection by themselves and advised us of what needed fixing, which was reasonable. The owner then did their own inspection, by themselves, 3 days later and added a number of items to the list. I don’t think this is fair or legal. What can we do?

  13. Can someone please help me? In NSW, if your lease ends and you’re still moving, and it’s one day after your lease ends, can the owner take possession of the house? My agent called and said not to go back as the owner has taken possession and still has rubbish and a few things to do. I didn’t hand my keys back, and now they’re billing me nearly 5 grand.