Check-In Inspections — What You Need to Know

A man's hands are holding a model house for check-in inspections.

Our Northern Virginia Property Management Agents Share the Details

Also known as move-in inspections, these are vitally important for all sides, when entering into a rental property negotiation. No matter if you are a tenant-to-be or a rental property owner who is working with a property management company, you still need to know what these inspections are all about, what they cover, and why you need them in the first place.

As a Tenant

If you are about to sign a lease contract, you need to be sure that a check-in inspection has first been completed for your own protection. Most property managers do that, but if that is not the case for you, and you were not given a copy of the check-in inspection, you should make one yourself. 

As the Owner

If you are a rental property owner (a.k.a. the landlord) and you are not using the services of a Northern Virginia Property Management agency, you need to draft, share, and discuss (if necessary), the check-in inspection with the future tenant. 

Why It Matters?

Check-in inspections clearly define the condition of the property prior to the tenant moving in, which is crucial in resolving and avoiding disputes about any damage that occurred during the tenancy. 

The Rules

The standard Northern Virginia lease stipulates that the check-in inspection and follow-up report has to be done within 5 days of the lease commencement. Of course, as a landlord, you should complete the inspection before the tenant moves in. However, as a tenant, you have the right to provide additional comments on the inspection regarding any damage that was not mentioned in the report. You have no more than 5 days from receiving the inspection (or the lease commencement date) to provide your comments in written form. It is important that, as a tenant, you know what should, and should not be reported, so we will discuss that below. Even damage that cannot be fixed, like a burn on a countertop, should be included in the inspection.

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The Details

Many tenants and landlords wonder how detailed the check-in report should be. That is a perfectly plausible question that doesn’t have a strictly set answer. Essentially, how much detail you go into in describing the condition of your property depends on how much you want to protect yourself? Of course, it is tiresome and rather tedious going from one room to the next, only to deal with the exterior part of the property, too. But, given it is how you will later settle which side is liable to repair any inflicted damage, it is certainly worth the time and effort. 

Of course, if you partner with a Northern Virginia Property Management company, you will not have to do the inspection and reporting yourself.

What Goes in the Report 

In a nutshell, everything that can be considered damage should be included in the report. It can be burns on the kitchen countertop, stains on or holes in carpets, cuts and chips on tiles, interior and exterior paint condition, scratches on hardwood floors, damaged doors and staircases, punctured drywall, nail holes on walls and ceilings, missing fence boards, virtually everything. 

The exterior – it is usually easier to start by examining the exterior. The condition of the windows, walkways, driveways, lawn/garden, doors, siding, brickwork, everything has to be noted. 

The interior – it should focus on four major areas: bathroom, kitchen, rooms (living, bedrooms, playrooms, etc.), and utility. The condition of the walls, ceilings, staircases, doors, windows, floors, lights, outlets, it should all be addressed. 

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A Reminder

If you are making the report yourself, always remember that you need to format it in a way that it looks like a document that can be presented in court, should it be needed. It has to look professional and be thorough in its entirety. 

Closing Remarks

To make your report as cohesive and thorough as possible, it is best to integrate everything together. This means data, photos, videos (if possible), and other information you find relevant. 

If you feel like you need support with managing your rental property in Northern Virginia, our team is always here to help. Call us if you are interested!

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