In addition to documenting your rental property on film or video before the tenant moves in (the topic of an earlier article), both you and the tenant should perform a walk-through together – with an accompanying checklist. This way, you can both assess the condition and immediately address any “pre-move-in concerns” – such as cracked floor tile, holes in the walls, broken hardware, etc. The idea is that you obviously wish to have the unit returned to you in the same condition you left it, allowing (of course) for reasonable wear and tear that just occurs naturally over time.
The basic premise behind “normal wear and tear” is to expect the addition of minor cosmetic blemishes. Appliances, fixtures and hardware throughout the rental are expected to be left in working order, devoid of obvious abuse. An exception to this rule would be those items that are several years old and known to be on the way out.
Although it’s better for you to be present at this time, you can also have the tenant perform their own inspection alone upon moving in, then return a signed and dated checklist to you within a mandatory time-frame (usually within 3 business days). After all, you should be well aware of the condition of your unit already – and as long as their assessment is turned in right away, there shouldn’t be any major discrepancies.