Should You Make The Final Walk-Through Together With Your Estate Agent/Property Manager?
After living in a house for months or even years, it is safe to assume that not everything is the same as it was when you moved in. The carpet might be a bit rugged, the walls a bit dirty and peeled and of course some accumulated dust. All these are factors that the landlord or real estate agent will consider when refunding your deposit. So, should you move out and let the landlord do the inspection afterwards or should you do the final walk-through together with them?
According to Civil Code 1950.5, you should take the final pre-departure inspection together with the landlord. This can be done a few weeks or days prior to the moving day to give the tenant time to remedy any seen defects. You can schedule a walk-through with the agent/landlord on a day convenient for both of you where you inspect every corner of the house and note down all defects. The landlord will then give you a chance to do repairs, repaint and clean so that your deposit will be refunded in full. However, if the agent notices other defects after you have moved out, he can still use your deposit money to remedy them and note it down for you.
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Prevent disagreements and small claims
Usually when the landlord conducts the inspection after the tenant has moved out, it is likely that the tenant will feel cheated. Most people have no clue about the defects in their house so when the landlord sends them a list of defects they think he’s making them up. A final walk-through with the landlord will ensure that you both see the defects and note them down together so the tenant will not feel cheated. That will reduce the number of cases where landlords are sued by their former tenants for not refunding the expected deposit.
Why agents avoid final-walkthrough with the tenants
Despite the law requiring a move-out inspection to be carried out before the tenant leaves, most agents decline to do so. Here are their reasons;
- It is not possible to see all the defects immediately after the tenant moves out. Sometime the tenant will clean the house so you can’t see the stains immediately or smell the bad odor coming from the basement or even realize how much mold is in there. These things will come up after a while so agents prefer to do the inspection later on.
- During the inspection, the tenant can try to justify and minimize all the defects that are found. If the agent is light-hearted, he can give in to the tenants talk and agree that the house is okay even when it’s clearly not.
- The agent should be given the freedom to carry out their fiduciary duty towards their boss who is the landlord and they can’t do that when the tenant is breathing down their neck.
Doing a final walkthrough after moving out is very important. However, in order to meet both the tenant’s and the landlord’s interests the inspection can be carried out by an independent inspector or at a later time when the house starts showing its defects.