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04/04/2024
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France

What to look for in an entry inventory?

The move-in inspection is a critical component of the rental process for rental agencies, landlords, and tenants in an ever-evolving rental market.

The demand for clarity and honesty at the beginning of a tenancy is arguably more critical than ever. To safeguard the interests of both tenants and landlords, a clear and precise move-in inspection should be at the forefront of every lease agreement. While most landlords are good and most tenants treat their rental properties with respect, rentals often end with a discussion about the condition and cleanliness of the property.

The key pieces of evidence for negotiations will be the move-in inspection and move-out inspection, simultaneously.

In this guide, we will explore why you need a move-in inspection for a new rental? Why is it important at different phases of the rental process? And how to ensure you have a comprehensive inventory in case you need it to support negotiation? We will also provide our best advice on how to protect both the landlord or agency and the tenant while managing each other's expectations during the tenancy. Our move-in inspection checklist will help ensure that in your move-in inspection, you haven't missed anything.

What is a move-in inspection?

The move-in inspection is a document that provides a clear and precise overview of the condition of a rental property at a specific point in time. When the move-in inspection is conducted before the tenant enters the premises, it's called a move-in inspection.

A comprehensive move-in inspection includes a precise list of the property's items and locations, a detailed description of the condition of each room and its fixtures, as well as the overall cleanliness level. Even if not included in the report, the move-in inspection should also contain high-quality, timestamped images.

It's essential to obtain the tenant's agreement on this move-in inspection, which can be done by visiting the property with the tenant during the inspection to ensure they agree with the documented move-in inspection.

This inspection highlights how the tenant lived in the house and took care of it, as well as any changes discovered during inspections and at the end of the tenancy, during the move-out inspection.

Why is a move-in inspection so important?

You wouldn't believe the amount of damage a tenant can cause! The list is long, whether it's stains on carpets, broken windows, burns on countertops, holes in walls, or damaged doors. If you don't have a move-in inspection, or if what you have isn't robust enough, you'll be at a disadvantage in any negotiation with your tenant after the tenancy expires.

At the end of the tenancy, a proper inventory can help you avoid a dispute. Remember that in the absence of an inventory, you have no evidence to negotiate, raising the question of the necessity of a security deposit, as it will be almost impossible to prove that the tenant caused the damage.

Inventory essentials - Top tips

This list is intended to remind landlords, agents, and tenants of the most critical elements to include in reports, all of which contribute to protecting both the landlord and tenant and managing each other's expectations throughout the tenancy. If you're having your reports done by a third party, make sure you get a quality report.

Don't forget to:

  • Create a list of all items and spaces in the property, indicating the condition of each and the overall cleanliness level. Tip: Cleanliness and condition are two different concepts, with normal wear and tear only concerning condition.

  • Include photographic and video evidence to support your textual description. This evidence should be labeled with the location it pertains to. Tip: Take photos of scuffs on walls and marks on carpets with the same perspectives and features, and use a measure (like a ruler or finger length) to demonstrate the size and scale of scuffs on walls and marks on carpets.

  • Date the reports and ensure the inspection time is clearly visible if it's just photographic or video reports. Note that this is particularly true for student apartments and complexes, where decor and content are uniform, and turnaround times can be very short. When describing something on move-in and move-out inspections, use the same wording. Tip: Descriptions can be brief but informative, such as three black stains on the carpet, multiple indentations on furniture, and general wear and tear. DO NOT rely on terms like "good," "bad," or "excellent," nor simply use check boxes.

  • Define all words or abbreviations used in the reports for consistency reasons. Tip: Consider assigning a number to each item for reference. When visiting a property or doing the final inspection, it'll be easier to cross-reference with an object or location.

  • Digitally date all photographs not integrated into the main report. If not, they should be individually passed to your tenant for initialing and dating. Tip: Ensure the date shown on your phone, device, or camera settings is correct.

  • Don't neglect the need for periodic property inspections. Tip: When it comes to fulfilling obligations and any related fees at the end of the tenancy, they can help form a clear picture of what happened during the tenancy.

  • Send all reports to the tenant, who should sign them to acknowledge receipt. However, in case of negotiation or arbitration, you'll need proof that the tenant received the move-in inspection report and had the opportunity to respond and make necessary changes. For example, when they received the keys, they may have used a timestamped email or declaration form. Tip: Ensure move-in inspection reports are done before the tenant moves in and move-out inspection reports are done after the tenant has vacated all belongings, with no long intervals between the two events.

A comprehensive move-in inspection, along with inspections throughout the tenancy and a thorough move-out inspection at the end of the tenancy, are essential for a successful rental process. It's also crucial to be able to compare reports from the beginning and end of a tenancy. A consistent reporting style and the use of appropriate descriptive wording will give all parties the best chance of agreeing on who is responsible for what at the time of the tenant's departure, thus avoiding the possibility of a legal dispute.

Colonies

The checklist provided here by Colonies aims to help landlords, rental agencies, and tenants avoid rental disputes by ensuring all aspects of your inventory report have been addressed.

Finally, it's always good to plan for the unexpected. Even with all checks and protocols in place, things can still go wrong. In such situations, taking out landlord insurance, which protects the landlord against financial losses related to renting out a property, provides the best protection.

It's also necessary to surround yourself with the best collaborators to assist you in the various stages of the rental process. And these collaborators are part of the Colonies team.

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