You lived in that great little apartment for 3 years and you loved it like it was your own but the time had come to move on to a new home. You cleaned every nook and cranny, caused no new damages, and followed your lease instructions for checkout, certain you would get your entire deposit back.
When the check comes, there are tons of deductions for damages that were there when you moved in and your once-awesome landlord refuses to hear any of it. They just keep saying, “Well, you didn’t notify us of the damage when you moved in, so tough luck, cupcake!”
For many tenants, this sounds all too familiar. Well, maybe not the cupcake part 😉
This is why it is vital that tenants complete a check-in sheet immediately upon moving into their new home. In some states it is required that the landlord provide this to you but that isn’t always the case. Regardless, it is up to tenants to be diligent to ensure that their landlord is aware of any pre-existing damages to avoid being charged for them upon move-out.
If your landlord didn’t provide you with a check-in sheet, there are many basic forms available online. Check out this one from Landlord.com or this one from the Wisconsin Realtors Association. The one we use is a modified version of our maintenance checklist and can be found here.
It is important to note that you do not have to use a form to report any issues you find at move-in. Simply put your notes into writing and provide them to your landlord, preferably via email so that you have a record of giving the notice to them.
Contact your landlord directly if you have any questions or concerns regarding your check-in or move-in process. Providing your landlord with a detailed account of pre-existing damages or cleanliness issues will help protect your security deposit upon move-out.