Final housing inspection - how long should it be?
April 27, 2010 7:19 AM   Subscribe

How long should an end-of-lease final inspection be, and what kind of questions/attitude should I permit/tolerate from the owner? I have been renting a small apartment for about four years, and have just moved out. I had the 'pre-inspection' for moving out today, and the final inspection will be held on the weekend. The apartment is in good condition, I've been a good tenant, but I'm really nervous.

This is totally TL;DR, but for those who'd like more background:

I won't bother giving the location of the apartment as I am more after opinions/experiences than legalities (I am aware of the legalities in my area as I have consulted an expert). Today there was a pre-inspection, which I was not legally obliged to permit, but did so in the interests of getting everything sorted & keeping the property management company happy. The property company rep was a total PITA in my opinion. For example, she complained that the last day of the month & therefore of my lease is a public holiday, and that I should therefore pay rent until the next business day (nonsense), repeating several times that I was legally obliged to hand back all copies my keys (duh), claiming that the mattress in the apartment is not the original one that they rented to me (nonsense) and that the original one was much better quality, pointing out obvious things like that the floor needed sweeping, etc etc, all done in a very condescending way.

Not such a huge big deal, I know, but because I suffer from social anxiety I have had quite a lot of guilt over the encounter - feeling like I did something wrong, like they are in charge of me and I should be working on cleaning the apartment right this minute, like I'm a bad person - all the tricks that social anxiety plays on you. The anxiety itself is pretty much under control and I am under medical supervision, that's not my problem here.

So my question is, what is 'normal' behaviour for a property manager and for a tenant at the end of the lease? Do I have to stay and listen to lectures? Or is half an hour enough and I can then call it a day? The apartment is only 350 square feet, so it's not like there's that much to discuss!

If it's at all relevant, the property company is notorious for never giving the deposit back, so I anticipate a lengthy legal battle regardless of how clean and tidy I leave the house. I will be leaving it in great condition, just for my own satisfaction.
posted by different to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My end-of-lease inspections have always been the landlord going through without me or any other tenants present. One time it had to happen before I was fully moved out (moving day and we were running late), and the super asked me to wait outside while he did the walkthrough. (It worked out well, since the oven apparently needed to be cleaned, and I was able to do it instead of getting charged for it.) But I have never actually gone on the walkthrough with anyone. What would that accomplish? At worst it would make (any) tenant nervous or anxious, and at best it would just be awkward, with you following the rep room to room. Next time they come, just excuse yourself. There's no reason (as far as I know) for you to be there, too.

Do you have any pictures of the unit before you moved in? Take them of the empty unit on your way out, in case you need to challenge anything. If the rep is going to be there with you, try to get things in writing (e.g. "Tenant has been informed that he must return all copies of the keys." Rep's signature, your signature; or "Tenant was informed that he should pay rent until the next business day." Rep's signature "That is not a part of my lease, my lease ends on [date] and I will pay to [date]." Your signature).
posted by phunniemee at 7:35 AM on April 27, 2010

You can relax for one aspect. Four years of tenancy covers a lot of normal "wear and tear" that the landlord should not hassle you about. You should any inspections you are able and take pictures of the good condition you left it in ASAP, as above. Note that if your landlord behaves like a jerk you have the right to sue in small claims court and, depending on your state, can recover twice the amount contested. Awareness of your rights is often enough to give shady landlords pause.
posted by Pamelayne at 8:49 AM on April 27, 2010

In NY, the premises should be inspected and any deposit returned in a "reasonable amount of time." Reasonable time is later defined to mean "30 to 60 days." Whatever that means, so here I'd use 30 days as the limit.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:40 AM on April 27, 2010

Simply in terms of your anxiety, it might help if you had a friend present.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2010

They want to keep your money and in these economic times will go to great lengths to do so. Take photos, get them to sign something saying all is okay and do it before any time deadline is up. I was careful, but they still got me - instead of mailing me my deposit, they sent a note saying that the mirrors needed more cleaning (probably because mirrors are hard things to photograph as being clean) and I could drive a long way to do it and meet them at a specific time (during my work hours) or pay them $150 to do it. Then they took another $75 out of my deposit to replace the stove plate covers because, even though they were clean, it is standard procedure to replace them (although it didn't say this anywhere). Repeat for more tiny silly things until all I got back was $200 of my deposit.

Good luck!
posted by meepmeow at 9:56 AM on April 27, 2010

FWIW, as a landlord where I am, I know that I can't charge you for the carpet in a 4 year old apartment. You, as a tenant, don't know that. I'd talk to a tenants rights group and figure out exactly what constitutes normal wear and tear in your city/state and be ready to respond to your rental company when they try to screw you. Best case, if they try any funny business you'll have established that they're crooks (because they *do* know what they're allowed to charge you for) and you may very well be able to tell them to f*** off on the rest of it.

And no, you don't have to listen to them lecture you. Just have a friend come over and let them in/keep an eye on them if you want.
posted by paanta at 10:15 AM on April 27, 2010

Recently, I moved out of a large, professionally managed complex after living there for three years. My experience was that the inspection took about 5-10 minutes with the leasing agent, and he was mostly concerned about major non-wear-and-tear damage (holes in the wall and the like) and if I had I'd removed all of my stuff. He didn't spend more than a few seconds judging my cleaning job or the carpet condition. I got my full deposit back.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:42 AM on April 27, 2010

I sent you a memail with a copy of what we provide to our tenants.
posted by vespabelle at 11:59 AM on April 27, 2010

Thank you, everyone. I chose to skip out on the final inspection and left the keys with a (very trusted) neighbour. It really helped to hear others' experiences. I also took a bunch of photos of the gleaming apartment surfaces, stove, oven, fridge etc once I was done cleaning. We'll see what happens next.
posted by different at 12:35 PM on May 1, 2010

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