By Alexx, staff attorney
‘Tis the season for moving, if you live in a town or city with a significant number of college students. In Tucson, home of the University of Arizona, nearly 4/5 of U of A students live off campus in the neighborhoods surrounding the university. Even if you’re not a student, you might find that there are a lot of deals to be had for fabulous rental homes or apartments this time of year.
Whatever the reason and whatever the season, it’s a good idea to be prepared going in to a move.
Rule of the day: Know what you’re moving into.
You may have found the brand new spacious home on the outskirts of town or a charming duplex built that still sports its 1940s charm. Whatever the type or condition of the home, it’s important to understand what your new rental comes with, what you’re responsible for fixing or maintaining, and what happens if something goes wrong.
The two biggest tools in your move-in tool box are going to be a move-in inspection or assessment sheet and photos, lots of photos.
The purpose of the inspection and photos is to document the condition of the property as it was when you started to live there. It gives you and the owners a way to keep track of what damage, if any, is caused to the property while you live there. Without an inspection, tenants and owners have no documentation to make their case for who is responsible for damage that shows up at the end of the lease.
The Move-In Inspection or Assessment
Some landlords/property management companies will conduct a move-in inspection with you. During the inspection, the landlord or staff member will walk through the property after you’ve signed your lease and note the condition of the house as it is before or just after you move in. Usually there is a sheet or log book, something in which the inspector can make notes about anything that’s already in disrepair.
1) Ask to present during the move-in inspection (or ask to have one if it’s not normal procedure).
2) If your landlord doesn’t use a log or inspection sheet, bring your own. There are examples all over the web or you can make your own.
3) Spend some time filling out the inspection sheet. Keep a copy for yourself and send the sheet and photos off to your landlord.
There’s a reason the cliche “a picture’s worth a thousand words” has stuck around so long. In situations like a move-in, it’s true.
You could write down on your move-in assessment sheet that the floor is dirty and the baseboard is missing, but following that up with a photo really drives the point home.
You really can’t take too many photos.
All in all, the point of being alert and doing your homework is to make sure that your understanding of what you’re moving into matches your landlord’s.
A little bit of work when you move in can help you make sure that you get your security deposit back at the end of your stay.
But wait- What happens if you’ve already moved in and haven’t done any of the steps above?
Do them now.
Documenting the condition of your home within a few weeks of your move-in is certainly better than having no proof that it was ever in good condition. Start now.