The best way to handle a move-out inspection is to have been prepared before your tenant ever moved in. Part of the move-in process is documenting the condition of the property with photos and videos of the interior. If you’re renting out a single family home, you’ll need to document the condition of the exterior as well.
Property Management Miami: Documenting Property Condition
When you finish moving a tenant in, share the pictures and videos you took with those tenants via email or some other digital file sharing service. That way, it will be dated and time-stamped. This will eliminate any doubt later on as to what the condition of the property was. If you do this before your tenant moves in, the physical inspection of the property when a tenant moves out should be a breeze.
Property Management Miami: Tenant Responsibilities
Your lease should be specific in terms of move-out requirements. Your tenants should know what’s expected once they provide their end of lease notice. But, if it’s not specific, there are a few things you should be sure to look for. Remember that it’s not your tenant’s responsibility to leave the home turnkey ready so a new tenant can move right in. There are certain wear and tear items you cannot charge the tenants for.
Here’s an example: if the tenants have not painted the property, you cannot charge them for scuff marks on the walls. But, if the tenants did paint the property a different color than what you provided, you can charge them for paint. Another example: you cannot charge for small nail holes in the walls, but you can charge for large holes that are bigger than a quarter.
If the property is carpeted and there are wear marks from foot traffic, you cannot charge the security deposit. But, you can charge the tenants if they left the carpets dirty. Essentially, you cannot charge your tenants for anything that could have occurred with normal use of the property during their tenancy.
Property Management Miami: Intentional Damage
You can charge for intentional damage. If there’s a hole in the wall or the door that was created by a tenant kicking or punching it, that’s damage. Broken or cracked light fixtures, deep scratches in the floors, and dented or scratched appliances are all examples of tenant damage. If any furniture or personal items are left behind, you can charge for their removal.
Cleaning requirements should include broom-swept floors and ceiling fans that are free of dust and dirty. There shouldn’t be soap scum or mold in the bathroom tiles. The stove should be free of grease, and the appliances should be wiped down and clean.
Property Management Miami: Florida Security Deposit Law
If there are damages, you cannot arbitrarily take the entire security deposit. If a tenant left a couch behind, you can charge what it costs to hire someone to haul it away. If a tenant broke a light, you can charge the cost of the light fixture, and then return the rest of the deposit to the tenant.
With any deductions you make, think about whether you can justify the charge in court. There is no better way to justify your charges than with documentation. Keep photos and receipts. You have a specific amount of time in Florida to refund the deposit. If there are no deductions, you must return the deposit within 15 days of the tenant moving out. If there are deductions, you have 30 days. You’ll need to send a letter with itemized deductions and other specific language. Contact us for help in using the right notice. Send the letter via certified mail, return receipt. The tenant can object up to 15 days after receiving the letter.
If you follow this advice, you shouldn’t have any disputes, especially if you documented the condition of the property prior to move in. Contact us at Trident Real Estate if you have any questions about Florida security deposit law or anything pertaining to Miami property management.