For rental property managers, the most common manager-tenant dispute is over the return of the tenant’s security deposit. A tenant who feels like he or she has been wronged may even go as far as suing in small claims court to get their money returned. If you are a property manager and a tenant takes you to court, would you be able to win? If your current inspection record-keeping system is lackluster or non-existent, keep reading.
Though laws differ slightly throughout the U.S., in California, the law specifies that the tenant’s security deposit can be used in four ways:
– To cover unpaid monthly rent
– To clean the unit in order to restore it to its condition at the time of move-in
– To repair damages other than normal wear and tear
– To cover the cost of replacement or repair of anything else included in the lease agreement, including furniture, keys, or other personal property
Starting from the date that the tenant moves out of the property, the property manager has anywhere from 14 to 60 days (depending on state laws) to either mail the tenant’s full security deposit back to them or deliver the remainder of the security deposit along with a list of deductions and the corresponding amount required to fix each deducted item. The property manager must also include receipts and/or other proof of cost for these deducted items.
If only it always ended there.
In many cases, tenants receiving less than their full security deposit will dispute any deductions. When this happens, it is imperative that the property manager has thorough and detailed documentation – including notes and photos – of both the move-in and move-out inspections. Ideally, both of these inspection reports are signed by both parties so that nothing can be disputed after the before and after photographs are compared.
But managing this kind of detailed information without a process in place can be overwhelming at best and a complete disaster at worst, especially when multiple inspectors are involved and sharing information. Shorthand notes and digital images can easily be misplaced, unorganized or deleted if not submitted to an online, cloud-based system like that found at EZInspections.com. This type of system is a crucial tool for rental property management companies who deal with multiple clients on a daily basis.
If you’re a rental property manager, making sure that your rental properties have detailed move-in and move-out inspection reports and photos available on a cloud-based system provides insurance for your company that can save you thousands in the long-run! Visit EZInspections.com to learn more about how an online system can benefit your company.