How to Keep Tenants from Wrecking Your Rental

by Chris on November 22, 2010

A provincial judge in Canmore, Alberta failed to find sympathy for three tenants who trashed their rental home, then fought the landlord over the cost of repairs – not even when the tenant brought his pocket-sized dog into court with him, apparently to prove that something that small could not have destroyed the carpeting by persistently urinating on it. 

Despite the ploy, the tenants were ordered to pay over $19,000 for repairs, and to compensate for the rent the landlord lost during this fight. 

While this is a fortunate resolution for the landlord, going to court to collect damages is stressful, and it doesn’t always end well for the landlord. This landlord’s success can be directly attributed to keeping good records, including property inspection reports. 

Requiring a move-in inspection with the tenant is one of the best ways to avoid having a tenant damage a rental property.  When the tenant knows that a move-out inspection will also take place, and that they will be responsible for the costs of repairs, they are far more likely to care for the property. 

These inspections are required in Alberta and British Columbia. Landlords who do not comply may not be able to take deductions from a tenant’s damage deposit. 

Even if these inspections are not mandatory in your area, this is still a great way to avoid misunderstandings with tenants, and can serve as evidence that the tenant is responsible for damages to the rental property if the landlord has to go before a board or court.

The inspections are done alongside the tenant, so both the landlord and tenant are aware of the condition of the residential premises at the beginning of the tenancy, and again at the end. Both must be conducted while the property is vacant.  When compared with the move-out inspection conducted at the end of the tenancy, a landlord can document any change that has happened to the condition of the residential premises during the tenancy.

The initial inspection report should list what’s in the residential premises, for example, the condition of the walls, floors, ceilings, windows, cupboards, appliances and plumbing fixtures.   Alberta’s Board suggests taking pictures or a video that is kept with the copy of the inspection report. A landlord may also want to include a statement regarding the lack of odors, especially if the tenant is moving in with a pet, or if the landlord needs to enforce a nonsmoking policy.  The move-out inspection should cover all of the same items.

Typically, a tenant is responsible for ordinary cleaning and for damage due to extraordinary or abnormal use. At the same time as the move-in inspection, the landlord can pass along a Cleaning Checklist so the tenant knows what will be expected at the move-out inspection.

A tenant may raise maintenance concerns if faced with an eviction or any attempts to collect rent.  The Move In/Move Out Inspection Reports can be useful tools in defending against these claims.   

In Alberta, Inspection Report forms, for both the move-in and move-out inspections, with duplicate copies for landlord and tenant, are available at nominal cost from the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Boards, the Calgary Apartment Association or the Edmonton Apartment Association.

A sample Condition Inspection Report for B.C. landlords is available online from the Residential Tenancy Branch’s website.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

HLL November 23, 2010 at 6:47 am

As always, I enjoy reading the newsletter. Thanks again,

HLL
an Ontario Landlords Association member

Dennis November 25, 2010 at 8:44 am

Without a signed Inspection Report in Alberta the Landlord doesn’t have a leg to stand on if there is damage done to the unit after move out.

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