Legal Q & A by Franco Simone, Attorney
The Landlord’s Responsibility for Move-In and Move-Out Inspections
Q: Should I do a pre-move-in walk thru with my new tenant?
A: Yes. Before signing a Rental Agreement or collecting any rent or security deposit, DO A MOVEIN
INSPECTION!!!! It is best to use a written Inspection Checklist signed by the tenant, as it protects
you in case of an eviction or a dispute arises with the Security Deposit accounting. If you can, take
pictures of the unit and be sure to make repairs on any items in need of repair prior to the move-in date.
Q: Am I required to do a move-out inspection?
A: Generally, the landlord MUST do an inspection BEFORE the tenant moves-out. The move-out
inspection provides the tenant with the opportunity to clean and repair the premises so that he may
receive his full security deposit back. However, there are two exceptions to the general rule:
1. Landlord cannot do an inspection UNLESS tenant requests it, and
2. Landlord is NOT required to do inspection if the landlord has served tenant with a
3- day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit; Perform Covenant or Quit for waste, nuisance,
or illegal use.
Q: Am I required to give my tenant a notice that they are entitled to a move-out inspection?
A: A Landlord MUST give written notice to a Tenant within a reasonable time after Notice to
terminate tenancy is given. Leases require the inspection notice to be given within reasonable time
before lease expires.
Q: When do I have to schedule the inspection?
A: If the tenant requests an inspection AND the landlord did NOT serve tenant with a 3-Day Notice as
described above, then set up an inspection on a date that works for both the landlord and the tenant.
However, the date must be within two weeks of the move-out date and the landlord must give at
least 48 hours notice to tenant prior to the inspection (48 hours notice requirement may be waived by
the tenant in writing).
Q: Does the tenant have to be present at the inspection?
A: No. Once you have set up the date and time the tenant does not need to be present for you to
perform the inspection. If the tenant is not present at the appointed date and time then proceed with the
inspection and leave a copy of the inspection for your tenant in the rental so that the tenant knows
what items he needs to correct in order to receive his full security deposit back.
Q: What things should I be looking for during the inspection?
A: Typically, a landlord should only be putting cleaning and repair items on the checklist that did not
exist prior to tenancy and which is beyond normal wear and tear.
Q: Should I do another inspection after the tenant moves out?
A: Yes, a final inspection may be conducted before or after a tenant vacates. After the final
inspection, a landlord may deduct from the security deposit such sums needed to repair or correct a
condition that was on initial inspection and not corrected, that occurred after initial inspection, or that
was not found during the initial inspection due to the tenant’s possessions. Further, the landlord may
deduct for cleaning if the tenant did not leave the rental in as clean of a condition as when the tenant
[Editor’s Note: AOA Members can download the instructions and all necessary forms from
www.aoausa.com to comply with these guidelines. See the AB2330 Walk-Through – form #135.]
Attorney Franco Simone, of the Landlords Legal Center and has been doing evictions for 18 years. He
is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego. Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday-
Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Walk-in’s welcome -no appointment necessary. Tel: 619-235-6180,
website: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email [email protected].