Property Management 101: What To Know Before You Give Tenants Their Keys

Photo Credit: Philipp Berndt

You have successfully found a new tenant for your investment property, the lease has been signed and the security deposit has been paid. Before you hand over the keys, you have one last step to complete to ensure you start the tenancy off on the right foot – the walk through. Our property management team sees this as an integral part of taking on a new tenant. This step in the rental process serves two main functions.

1. The Condition Inspection Report

During the property walk through, you fill out the Condition Inspection Report. The Condition Inspection Report is essential for property management if a dispute ever arises down the road regarding whether or not a damaged item was pre-existing or was damaged as a result of the tenant’s actions.

It is not unusual when doing a move out walk through with a tenant, to hear “it was like that when we moved in” when referring to an item that is damaged. If a damaged item was not marked down on the Condition Inspection Report at the time the move in walk through was completed, then it was not pre-existing damage. This means it was damage that occurred during the tenancy. Where this becomes important is in a dispute that winds up in an arbitration at the Residential Tenancy Office. If you know a certain item was not damaged at the time of move in, but a Condition Inspection Report was not completed within the timeframe as set out by the Residential Tenancy Office (or was completed improperly), it is highly unlikely that you would be awarded any costs to repair the damaged items if the tenant disputes it.

The Condition Inspection Report should never be skipped and great care should be taken to ensure the following:

  • the correct form is used and has been filled out properly;
  • the form has been completed in the presence of the tenant within the allowable time frame to ensure it is valid
  • and a completed and signed copy is provided to the tenant within the mandatory deadline.

2. Maintenance And Care Instructions

When it comes to property management, many landlords don’t realize how valuable the time during the walk through really is in terms of preventing future headaches, damages, or disputes. Remember, this is your last time in the apartment with your tenants before they are given the keys. This is an ideal time, and your final opportunity, to highlight any items that you want to make sure they know before they officially take over as residents.

Let’s say you have just replaced your carpets with new laminate wood floors. Laminate flooring is a great upgrade for rental apartments. What is important to know about laminate wood floors is that water will cause significant damage to them over time, and specific care instructions should be given to your new tenants to ensure they know this. If, for example, the wrong type of cleaner is used, the floors may be damaged beyond repair when the tenants move out. This may open a dialogue that begins with the tenant saying they were never told that there were special cleaning instructions. That could result in a time-consuming dispute over who is responsible for repairing them. If this dispute were to go to an arbitration, it is very possible that an arbitrator may find in the favour of the tenants because, as the landlord, you did not relay this important information to them.

Laminate flooring is just one example of several items that will have specific use or care instructions. The reality is that tenants will know at least some of them, but make the assumption that they won’t, and cover each special care item one at a time. This will add about ten minutes to the walk though, but taking those extra ten minutes may save you time, money and stress if, down the road, tenants do, unintentionally, damage anything as the result of not being given proper care instructions when they moved in.

The walk through is one of the most important and valuable steps of property management, and any landlord moving new tenants into an apartment should ensure that the process is properly and fully completed. As a homeowner, you may find peace of mind in having a property management company complete this process for you. It will ensure that the correct form is used and handled properly within the rules of the Residential Tenancy Office. A property management company will also pass on all proper care and maintenance instructions to new tenants.

Contact the property management team at Bruce Ward Realty today to inquire further about the walk through process and to hear how we can help.