Move In and Move Out Inspections
After you have completed all of your repairs and upgrades and you have approved a tenant for move in you you will need to complete a move in inspection. This will be for your records so you can refer back to the condition of the home after the tenants vacate. Most Colorado Springs property management company’s currently use written reports and photos, but we at Muldoon are in the process of converting to video inspections. I suggest you use the method that works best for you but make sure you are thorough and have some type of visual documentation (photos or video).
You will need to test and document the condition of every light bulb, switch, socket, door, window, knob, blind, etc. Don’t forget anything! Open drawers, inside of fridges, furnace and filter, EVERYTHING! Once the lease has terminated and the tenant has turned over possession you will use the same process. Now that you have the move out and move in inspections complete you need to go line by line and compare the condition. Many of the items that need to be repaired or replaced will be normal upkeep items that the landlord is responsible for. You need to decide what damages are beyond normal wear and tear, complete the work, and keep receipts for the deposit disposition.
Your disposition will need to be written and delivered to the last known address of the tenant or a forwarding address if provided. Make a copy of the stamped envelope and place it in the file in case you ever need proof it was completed and mailed. Hopefully if you did everything according to the law the tenant will not dispute any of the damages and you are in the clear. If the tenant does dispute the damages they must do so in writing requesting their deposit be returned because it was wrongfully with held. The landlord has 7 days to return the deposit (right or wrong) or the precedence in Colorado is you are already wrongfully with holding a deposit. At this time the tenant can litigate for 3 times the with held amount. Based on my experience it’s best to just refund the deposit except in extreme circumstances. This will cost you less in the future and even though it can be a tough pill to swallow it’s the right financial decision.
You may have legitimately with held the items owed but this can only be proven by a magistrate or judge. It could take you month’s and thousands of dollars to “prove them wrong” or “prove your right” but that does not make sense in the scheme of things. I have also heard but not experienced that some magistrates will not award any money that was not addressed at move in. You should have a form that outlines how much each charge will be if the tenant does not take care of it at move out. I.E. cleaning is 250 dollars, locks are 75 dollars, furnace filter is 25 dollars, and the list goes on for virtually everything in the home. This should be given to and signed off by the tenants. A rock solid lease packet, inspections, and disposition will help keep your return on investment high and your days in court short.