At the beginning of a tenancy or rental period, most Colorado landlords and their tenants are amiable and hopeful about the relationship. Both believe that any issues not discussed or contained in the lease will be reasonably addressed in the future.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out this way. In fact, some of those “unspoken assumptions” become disagreements that later give rise to bitter court disputes.
Better safe than sorry
Given these realities, it’s wise to document the condition of your rental property before your tenant moves in. You can use any and all of these methods:
• A walk-through inspection paired with a written inspection report . Your tenant should accompany you on the walk-through and sign the report. You can use the same report when you return the security deposit or need to keep a portion of the deposit for repairs. The advantage of this method is that your tenant signs it, and the court likes documents.
• Videotaping or photographing the premises. (Most good phones have video capability). The advantage of this method in court is the adage, “pictures never lie.”
Documenting damage and repair
Any damage to your rental property should also be documented before your tenant moves in and, if necessary, fixed. Plumbing leaks, mold, carpet damage (a major source of contention in security deposit damage disputes), and marred hardwood flooring should all be documented and fixed before your tenant moves in. That way, it’s clear that you have taken steps to fix any problems before the rental period starts.
When your tenant moves out, bring the original inspection report into the rental, and do another walk-through. Discuss any damage that occurred beyond normal wear and tear. Remind your tenant that you will be deducting the cost of repairs from the security deposit .
For more information, see the Landlord & Tenant Guide to Colorado Leases and Evictions, 5th Edition , by Victor M. Grimm, Esq. and Denise E. Grimm.