Pre-Move-Out Inspections (and Why You Should Care)


Pre-Move-Out Inspections (and Why You Should Care)

Yes, you still need to do a Move-Out Inspection as well. A lot can change between ‘someone’s home’ and ‘no one’s home!’

A magnifying glass looking at a house.One of the more annoying aspects of property management is the need to perform inspections when the tenant is still living in the home. Sometimes, it’s easy — but more often than not, the tenants don’t cooperate with the desire to inspect. That means coming in to do an inspection is always a gamble, even if you give warning that you’re coming: no one wants to take the time to actually have an inspection performed. No one likes an interruption! But the benefits of consistently doing pre-move-out inspections outweigh the risk by a solid margin.


What Is a Pre-Move-Out Inspection?
Hopefully, everyone reading this knows what a move-out inspection is: it’s what you do after the tenant is gone, to figure out what all needs to be done before the next tenant can move in. A pre-move-out inspection is actually remarkably similar — but you do it while the tenant is still there.
Your inspector, with or without the tenant (more on that in a moment), goes through the house and notes everything they can find that would cost the tenant a part of their security deposit. They compare that list to the list of problems that existed when the tenant moved in — you did perform a move-in inspection, right? — and cross all of those pre-existing conditions off of their new list.

The Second Reason for Pre-Move-Out Inspections
That new list gets turned over to the tenant so that they can fix up everything they care to fix up (so as to get back as much of their deposit as possible). This saves the owner time and money on fixing easy problems, and makes the tenant happy to get more cash in their pocket. But that’s only the second reason.

The Main Reason for Pre-Move-Out Inspections
The main benefit is that the inspection will tell you the condition of the property, which reduces turnaround time when the tenant moves out. If the place is a mess, showings aren’t an option, which means advertising isn’t an option. On the other hand, you know you need to line up contractors for maintenance, and you can arrange them to start the day after move-out (or as close as possible). On the other hand, if the place is nice enough to show, you can start advertising as soon as you have the ability, which will also help reduce vacant time.

Tenant’s Option
We mentioned above that you can end up doing a pre-move-out inspection with or without the tenant on hand. This isn’t up to you! You are legally obligated to give the tenant the opportunity to walk through alongside your inspector (which means you must adapt to the tenant’s schedule as far as is reasonable). If they choose to let you inspect without them present, that’s fine — but in our experience, few of them will.

It’s a Trap!
There is one major legal trap you have to beware of when you send an inspector out to a property for a pre-move-out inspection. Many times, a tenant will try their hardest to get your inspector to make any sort of statement to the effect of “here’s what you need to fix up in order to get your deposit back.” It is 100% mission-critical that your inspector not say anything of the sort.
The reason why should be obvious: you don’t want to give the tenant a leg to stand on should they decide to try to take you to court because they didn’t get their security deposit back in full. It’s ridiculous to think that a pre-move-out inspection could possibly catch every single issue that might require you to withhold a portion of the security deposit — heck many post-move-out inspections don’t do that!

So leave the tenant with some official documentation that specifies that these lists will help them get their rental up to snuff before they leave, but in no way constitute an agreement that you will be returning any portion of their security deposit. Avoid that one trap, and getting pre-move-out inspections done regularly will help your owners minimize the downtime on their properties, and your tenants will appreciate your efforts as well.

7 thoughts on “Pre-Move-Out Inspections (and Why You Should Care)

  1. In my case the list owner is out of town and left the house with me as he’s tenant to look after before he comes back from overseas,, now the landlord left me a pre move out inspection on my door ..what can I do and we never owe any rent at all ..what should I do,,the primary list owner is not around..I paid all the bill rent without any delay..

    1. Not sure we understand your question, but it appears the lease is up and the landlord is giving you the chance to complete a pre-MoveOut report.

      Suggest you contact the landlord about renewing the lease if you don’t want to move. You can also request to have your name added to the new lease if you desire.

  2. When the owners of property is doing a pre- inspection with you shouldn’t they tell you what damages or faults that they find if you’re doing the walk thru together?

      1. I’m in Florida? They require 2 inspections 1. Pre-inspection and last when Everything is out there’s another walk thru final inspection.

  3. What’s the difference between a pre-move out inspection and a walk-through at the end of the lease? The property manager does a yearly inspection and just completed one in September 2023. We are moving out April 30, 2024, and the manager wants to do a pre-move out inspection two weeks before we move out. I suppose a final walk-through inspection will be done after we are completely out to determine the security deposit return amount.

    .We’re confused as to the need for both pre-move out inspection AND a final walk-through inspection when the yearly inspection was done fewer than 6 months ago.


    1. When do you want to find out about possible damage charges to your security deposit?

      A Pre-MoveOut Evaluation is meant to determine what needs to be done to get the home RentReady AND to alert the current tenant to possible damage charges.

      This gives the current tenant a chance to make repairs themselves, acceptable to property management, and avoid charges to their security deposit.

      The MoveOut Evaluation determines what damages the vacating tenant will be held accountable for.

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