Landlords and tenants use a rental property inventory checklist to document and communicate the condition of a property unit before it is occupied and after it is vacated. Without proper documentation, both the landlord and tenant leave themselves open to being held responsible for the condition of the unit and replacement or repair costs.
Whether initiated by the tenant or landlord, the first document reviewed after signing a lease should be an inventory checklist. While most private owners may not present this form, a tenant can request or download the form found on California’s Department of Consumer Affairs website at dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/checklist.pdf. This form clearly documents the condition of items throughout the unit and denotes household items if the unit is furnished.
What To Include In The Inventory Checklist
The checklist should document the condition of each bedroom including the walls, doors, windows, flooring, door knobs, ceiling, light fixtures and closets. Scratches, dents, loose door handles, missing light fixture covers and the like should all be noted. If findings on the inventory checklist determine items should be repaired or replaced, the property management representative or the landlord should note this. The checklist should include the kitchen, bathrooms, and living areas and the condition of appliances. If the unit is furnished, each household item should be listed from plates to furniture.
Keeping The Inventory Checklist On File
In addition to the checklist, both the tenant and property management can take pictures and video the condition of the unit. These files can be attached to the written version or combined to form an electronic file. It is imperative that both parties keep a copy for their records since it could be several years before the tenant ends her lease. Should the landlord change property management representatives, the tenant’s copy could be the only documentation of the unit’s original move-in condition.
Documentation Creates Expectation
Both the tenant and property management representative should carefully review the condition of the unit before the move-in date. This will increase the chance of the tenant getting his security deposit back after he moves out if the unit is returned in the same condition. Without the checklist, neither the landlord nor tenant will legally have documented proof of the unit’s move-in condition and risk responsibility for major or minor maintenance repairs.