By requesting a move out inspection PRIOR to the move out, a tenant gets the chance to try and make some the repairs or do the cleaning before the landlord deducts the costs of repair/cleaning from the security deposit. Here’s how it works:
1) Either the tenant or the landlord gives notice that the tenancy is ending (for more on this topic, see this article and this article). The landlord is supposed to give the tenant written notice of the tenant's right to request an initial inspection, but may not.
2) The tenant requests an initial move-out inspection. The landlord and tenant should work out a time when they both can be there, but if they cannot, the landlord may choose a time without the tenant agreeing. The landlord gives the tenant 48 hour notice of when the inspection will occur either way. The inspection cannot be earlier than 2 weeks before move out, but should give the tenant enough time to try and remedy any problems the landlord identifies. Note- the tenant does not have the right to request the move-out inspection if he/she is being evicted with a 3-day notice.
3) The landlord or landlord’s agent will inspect the unit. Ideally, the tenant is present so they can discuss each item the landlord points out as needing repair and/or cleaning. This gives the tenant a chance to explain about any defects that were already present prior to move-in, or ask for an estimate of the cost of repair. This is also a good time for the landlord and tenant to discuss potential cleaning charges. The landlord records an itemized statement of repairs the tenant must perform in order to receive the full return of the security deposit and either leaves it with the tenant, or leaves the list in the unit if the tenant is not present.
4) The tenant makes the repairs/does the cleaning listed in the itemized statement, or decides that the landlord can make the repairs.
5) Upon move out, the landlord evaluates the tenant’s work in the unit. The landlord can still deduct from the security deposit if:
–There were items identified in the inspection statement that the tenant did not repair or correct; or,
-There were items of repair/cleaning that materialized after the initial inspection; or
-There were items that were not identified during the initial inspection due to the presence of the tenant's possessions (like the sofa covering a huge hole in the wall behind it).
It is recommended you consult with a real estate attorney about your landlord-tenant concerns and inquiries. For more information, please contact Richardson “Red” Griswold of Griswold Law at (858) 481-1300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to check out the Griswold Law Blog’s complete list of articles of concern for landlords and tenants here.