Ask Lucas

Ask Lucas 007: Must I Allow my Tenants to be at the Move-out Inspection?

Summary:

Mike from Madison, Wisconsin is concerned that if he allows his tenants to be at the move-out inspection, they will inhibit the inspection process and try to keep him from documenting all the damages. Mike asks the question: “must I allow them to be present, or can do the inspection without them?”

Full Transcript:

Lucas: Hey everyone, this is Lucas Hall from Landlordology and Cozy. Welcome to the 7th episode of Ask Lucas. It’s a bite-sized Q and A show where I answer your questions about landlording and property management. Just leave a recorded question on Landlordology.com and I’ll answer it in this podcast. It’s very simple. So let’s get started.

Our first question today is from Mike in Wisconsin. He’s asking about move out inspections.

Mike: Hi Lucas. My name is Mike from Madison, Wisconsin. I’m a landlord with a question for you. I have some tenants asked to be at the move out inspection. I’m a little nervous of having them be there and disputing some charges in terms of withholding the security deposit. Is that something that I have to let them be there or can I do it without them and just send them notice afterwards?

Lucas: Hi Mike. Thanks for your question. That’s something that I’ve actually thought about a lot because my state does not require me to give notice of the date and time of the move out inspection. I can relate to your dilemma.

In Wisconsin there’s not state statute that requires you to do that either. I did also look into the city of Madison and I didn’t see anything there either. Feel free to check out the Wisconsin state laws on Landlordology.com and then contact a local attorney too to just double check to make sure everything’s accurate.

With that said, I think it’s important to note that a good landlord has an ethical responsibility to not pull any fast ones on the tenant or try to scam the tenant out of money for deposit repairs that don’t really need to happen. I think it’s okay for you to allow the tenant to be there if they want to be there. In fact, if they every ask me to be there, I always let them. I don’t ever turn them down. However, I do go about my normal inspection process. I don’t bend over backwards and I don’t try to schedule it with them. I just tell them it’s going to happen at 2 o’clock on Tuesday. You’re welcome to be there and follow along and we can do that together if you want. Otherwise, that’s when it’s happening. If you can’t make it you can’t make it.

If they do show up, then I usually just tell them I’m going to be here for another hour. I’m happy to point out things that need repair and you can either clean it or repair it while I’m here but if you’ve already moved out and you’ve turned in your keys and you don’t technically have possession of the property anymore, I can’t let you come back tomorrow and make repairs.

That’s how I handle it. I will say that Wisconsin is like a lot of other states but there are some states like California that do require some sort of preliminary move out inspection so a tenant has an opportunity, possibly a week or two prior to the end of the lease to actually make repairs. Then there’s a final move out inspection where you can double check the issues that you brought up earlier.

Again, that’s not the case with Wisconsin that I can tell. Further, I’m not a lawyer so don’t consider this legal advice. It’s really just up to you to research the statutes and talk to your attorney if you need additional help.

I hope that helps. Have a great day and good luck with your move out inspection.

Ask Lucas is brought to you by Cozy which provides end to end property management software for landlords. I use Cozy personally in my own life to accept rental applications, screen the tenants and then automatically collect the rent on line. I automate my rental properties with Cozy and I love it. It’s really changed the way I do my business.

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About Lucas Hall

Lucas is the Chief Landlordologist at Cozy. He has been a successful landlord for over 10 years, with dozens of happy tenants and a profitable income property portfolio.
Read more about Lucas's story.