When moving in to a new apartment or house the process is exhausting and the last thing on your mind is moving-out day, but since your landlord is probably holding a sizable chunk of your money in the form of a security deposit, it's risky not to prepare for the end of your tenancy right from the beginning.
Before you start unpacking your belongings and hanging prints on the walls, take a few simple steps to avoid the misunderstandings and disagreements that have made disputes over security deposits legendary.
1. Inspect your house
Give your unit a thorough inspection before you move in better yet, do it before you sign the lease. It's advisable to inspect the premises before you move in because it will be easier to spot problems while the place is empty. You should check the place over for damage, dirt, mildew, and obvious wear and tear.
Also, don't neglect or refuse to check out things that might not be readily apparent, such as water pressure and sink drainage in the kitchen and bathrooms, the operation of appliances, the appearance of floors and walls, and the condition of the carpet and sofa sets if the house is furnished.
2. Using a Checklist when you Move-In
You should make a detailed inventory of what you find and the best way to do this is with a good checklist. The more you record about the unit when you move in, the better position you'll be in when moving out to show that certain problems already existed before you moved into the unit.
In practice landlords are required to give new tenants a written statement on the condition of the unit at move-in time, including a comprehensive list of existing damage. Regardless of whether or not it's required by law, some landlords and agents provide a checklist to new tenants, but some do not.
Another inspection must be done again when moving out using a copy of the checklist that was filled when moving in checking the same items and noting their condition at move-out time. If it happens that the items that were in good conditions when moving in are now damaged, the landlord may hold you responsible for fixing them, but you'll be protected from being billed for damage that existed before you moved in.
3. Use Pictures as Evidence
Apart from having a checklist, it's also important to document the condition of your unit with photographs or video. Whether you take a photo with your phone or use a separate camera, print out two sets of the photos as soon as possible and give copies to your landlord without forgetting to date and sign them. The same applies to videos taken that must clearly state the time and date when the video was made and send the landlord a copy.