Renting a home or apartment is more than handing over keys or moving in furniture, it’s a legal agreement. There are contracts to sign, agreements made, and money that exchanges hands. An important aspect of this process with Redding rentals is move-in, move-out, and pre-move inspections. These inspections are designed to protect both the landlord and the tenant. Understanding and following the letter of the law is the best way to protect yourself whether you are the tenant, landlord or Property Manager.
In 2003, California adopted a law that gives tenants the right to have a pre-move out inspection. The inspection isn’t required unless the tenant requests it, but the landlord is required to offer the tenant the opportunity to have this inspection. There is a lot of confusion about this law. Some older established landlords, property managers, and tenants aren’t even aware of it, and some think it means a required inspection upon move-out. Which isn’t the case. A move-out inspection is different from the pre-move inspection. The purpose of this inspection is to give the tenant an opportunity to make necessary repairs and cleaning before the move-out inspection so they can get their full deposit back.
There was a time when California landlords or property management companies were able to keep all or most of a tenant’s deposit for even the slightest cleaning mistake. Those days are long gone, and California law has shifted with many built-in tenant protections. This is another one. This law requires a landlord to give a tenant a written notice of their right to request an initial pre-move-out inspection. This notice is given after the tenant’s notice is given or a reasonable time before the tenant’s lease expires. The inspection must occur within two weeks of the tenants move out date. The purpose of the inspection is to give the tenant a chance to remedy things that may need cleaning or repairs, so having the inspection at the beginning of the two-week period gives the tenant ample time to clean the unit or make repairs to the rental property. The notice must state that the tenant has the right to have the pre-move-out inspection and may be present during the inspection. Once the landlord or property management company sends the tenant the written notice, they are not required to have the inspection unless the tenant requests it.
If the tenant requests the inspection, the landlord and the tenant need to work out a reasonable time to have the inspection. The landlord also has to give the tenant written 48-hour notice before the date and time of the inspection. The landlord and tenant can waive this written 48-hour notice in writing, or the 48 hours written notice can be waived if the landlord and tenant have not agreed on a date and time, and the tenant no longer wants the inspection. Understanding the law can protect both parties. If you are a landlord or property management representative, be sure to send your tenant a letter informing them of their right to the inspection. Make this brief notice a part of your move out procedure and send it once you have your tenant’s 30-day notice. Inform them of their right to have the inspection and their right to be present. You may want to copy the law or just explain briefly what the inspection is and give the tenant the option to request the inspection.
A good property management company Redding CA will have a procedure in place to cover this. Smaller mom and pop landlords may dread sending the letter because it might be awkward walking through the rental property pointing out things that need cleaning or fixing. Plus, most landlords don’t want tenants doing shoddy DIY repairs. The good news is that most tenants don’t want a landlord walking through their apartment pointing out things that need cleaning or repair in the rental. So, send the letter, there is a good chance most tenants won’t take you up on the offer anyway. If you have a tenant who wants the inspection, then you or your agent will meet at the specified time and create an itemized list of things that need cleaning or repairs. As always, be as fair as possible and give the tenant every chance to meet or exceed your expectations and get their full deposit back. This is also a great time to prepare the tenant for deductions they can expect if the cleaning isn’t performed.
As a tenant, it’s up to you if you want the inspection or not. It may be a good chance for you to touch bases with your landlord or property manager and make sure there are no surprises. Although, you shouldn’t have any worries as long as you leave the Redding rental property in the same condition it was when you first took possession of the unit. Both parties should document the move-in condition and fill out a pre-move-in check-list. Photos are always a good idea, then there won’t be any doubt about the move-in condition. A landlord has to offer the pre-move-out inspection, but it is not mandatory unless the tenant requests it. After the tenant moves out, the landlord will do a final inspection and refund the tenant’s deposit or send an itemized list of deductions. The deposit or deductions need to be sent to the tenant within 21 days of the move out date. Updated 1-6-2019
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