What’s a Tenant Walk-Through?

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If you’ve got a tenant moving out soon, a tenant walk-through is an important component of the culmination of your lease and the rental process. When you initially had your tenant sign their lease, a security deposit was most likely paid, in addition to any other application fees or a deposit of first month’s rent. This security deposit is given back to the tenant in full, less the amount needed to cover any repairs necessary as a result of the tenant’s occupancy in your rental unit. So, how do you avoid cases he said, she said when such a deduction is required? Enter the tenant walk-through.

Also called a landlord walk-through or a move out walk-through, a tenant walk-through allows you and your tenant to document and discuss any damage or other issues in your unit prior to their lease ending. This enables you both to come to an agreement about any issues that may contribute to money needing to be taken out of their security deposit before anyone feels the need to raise their voice or threaten legal action.

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When to schedule a walk-through

Once you receive notice that your tenant is planning on moving out or will not be renewing their lease, it’s a good idea to schedule a tenant walk-through as soon as possible. Ideally, you would be able to initiate the walk through a month in advance, so that your tenant has a chance to remedy any issues in their unit. While larger structural issues are obviously out of a tenant’s control, filling in holes from picture frames, touching of paint, and replacing light bulbs are all simple things a tenant may want to do themselves rather than be charged for. This also allows you to put eyes on your unit prior to listing it for new tenants and accepting new applicants with a free rental application.

Things to look for

When you’re performing a tenant walk-through, it’s a great idea to bring a checklist. This way, you and your tenant can assess each aspect of every room in the unit detail by detail. The other benefit of bringing a paper checklist is that you have the opportunity to have the tenant sign their agreement on the identified problem areas that they are at fault for. Ideally, you can use the same checklist you utilized when your tenant first signed their lease so that you have an accurate, dated record from the time they started renting your unit. Here are a few things to make sure to address in your tenant walk-through:

  • Doors
  • Hinges and door hardware
  • Windows
  • Window shades or blinds
  • Smoke detector
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Outlets and light switches
  • Sink and plumbing
  • Refrigerator
  • Oven
  • Cabinetry
  • Shower
  • Bathtub
  • Any other miscellaneous features, like fireplaces or radiators
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How to document a walk-through

In addition to tracking condition with your checklist, it’s never a bad idea to take pictures, too. Should you ever run into a case where a tenant disagrees with you and takes you to court, having photographic evidence of any elements of your rental that are a point of disagreement can be incredibly helpful. With smartphone technology, it’s never been easier to take, organize, and store photos of each of your units. This makes for a simple and effective way to clearly document your rental to avoid arguments down the line.

When your tenant chooses to end their lease, it’s important to make sure that your unit is in good shape for your next renter. One way to address any potential wear-and-tear is to perform a tenant walk-through with your tenant, clearly noting and discussing any issues you find. Going into your tenant walk-through with a checklist and the ability to photograph any discrepancies is a great strategy to make sure that all parties agree upon the condition of your unit. Doing so will ensure that the move out process is smooth and drama-free.