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How to Protect Yourself with a Property Condition Report When Starting a Tenancy

By Donna Jones

Every new tenancy should start with a detailed move-in property condition inspection report. This was the reminder we were given by a recent Tenancy Tribunal decision, which ruled in favour of the tenants because the landlord’s report failed to provide an adequate benchmark of the property condition when the tenancy started.

Let us remind ourselves, and you: what is a move-in property inspection report, what should it include and who creates it.

What is a move-in rental property inspection report?

A move-in rental property inspection report is a detailed record of a rental property’s condition at the beginning of a tenancy, representing a benchmark that can be referred back to at the end of the tenancy. If there are any notable differences to the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy, the report can be used to make comparisons to help distinguish whether the tenants were responsible.

Without a detailed report to look at, landlords have no substantial evidence to prove that any damage beyond wear and tear visible at the end of tenancy was caused by the outgoing tenants.

What should a rental property inspection report include?

A rental property move-in inspection report should provide a fair representation of the rental property at the time the tenants are going to move in. It should list each item in each room (e.g., Laundry: walls, ceilings, Supertub, floors, etc.) and have notes describing the condition of each item (e.g., Three large brown marks to left hand side of north-facing wall), with reference photographs of each item and any issues (like the three brown marks).

Do tenants have input about what’s included in a start of tenancy rental property report?

When tenants are set to move into a rental home managed by McPherson Property Management, we give them a hard copy of the report and advise that they have seven days to note anything they think we missed and return a signed copy back to use — if necessary, we go back to the property to look at the items they commented on. The report states that if the new tenants don’t return the report in the seven day-period, the are confirming they agree with contents of the provided report, as is.

When is a rental property inspection report used?

When it comes time for the tenant(s) to leave the rental property, we can use the report as we complete our final move-out property inspection, checking for any damage that isn’t wear and tear and wasn’t noted in the report before they moved in.

What can go wrong without a sound move-in rental property inspection report?

A recent case that went before the Tenancy Tribunal in Waitakere ruled mostly in favour of the outgoing tenants because of shortcomings with the move-in property inspection report.

The property report the landlord was relying on hadn’t been signed by both parties, and the tenants contested the landlord’s claims, saying that the report didn’t fairly represent the state of the property when they moved in.

The landlord’s claim sought compensation for commercial cleaning ($350), and garden and lawn tidy up, rubbish removal and installing of a door handle and lock ($845.25). During the hearing the judge noted the burden of proof was placed on the landlord to prove their claim to the required standard and ruled this was not achieved on the evidence provided. Of the sought compensation (which included the filing fee), the judge ordered the tenants to pay only $100 towards garden tidy up and lawns.

Who is responsible for a move-in rental property inspection report?

Private landlords who manage their own rental property are tasked with taking care of the move-in report themselves.

Alternatively, for rental property owners who use the professional services of McPherson Property Management, a move-in rental property inspection report is all part of the package we offer. We manage the whole process for the property owners and stand behind our ability to capture an undeniable benchmark of a property at move-in time.

Drop us a line if you’d like to know more about move-in property reports or other parts of our property management services.


Contract’ by via CC BY-SA 2.0.

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