Every landlord should capture the condition of their rental property on film before a tenant takes possession. So, if you don’t own a smartphone, video camera – or even a still camera – it’s ’round about time you get at least one. Visit your local “general store” (e.g., Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, K-Mart, etc.); it doesn’t matter which; with newer and inexpensive digital technology, you can get a good deal almost anywhere you shop – and a simple, uncomplicated camera will do just fine. As long as it can take a picture that’s in focus and then render quality prints or copies for your records.
Having a clear visual record of the condition and contents will speak volumes should there ever be a dispute over excessive wear or damage! – Just make sure you are organized and keep everything filed away securely so you know exactly where it is. You never know when – or how quickly – you may suddenly need to piece it all together to support your position in a legal dispute.
By the way, if you decide to become a videographer, keep the camera steady. Home movies and bad wedding videos notoriously have one thing in common – the camera jerks around so bad that viewers are more prone to epileptic seizures and severe migraines than to seeing your perspective. Don’t walk about – stand still at designated points outside and inside – around the entire perimeter of the property – so that you can steadily capture 30 seconds of each angle. This way, if you ever need to watch the footage back, you’ll be able to see everything without biting your tongue or having to offer some necessary audio commentary of your own to clarify what you were attempting to show.
For those items of great importance – perhaps newer appliances, fixtures, etc. –close-ups should be taken, just in case you need to provide evidence of excessive wear and tear that occurred during the term of the lease. Oh, and don’t forget about documenting all of the secondary rooms and surface areas – such as ceilings, switch plates, outlets, window treatments, doors, storage spaces, utility rooms, patios and even cabinets. Are you being too anal? Not in the slightest! You should expose everything in its current state from head to toe – and it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes of your time for about 1,500 square feet.