The Renter's Guide

A few years ago, a son of one of my friends attended a university out of town. He rented an apartment and entered into a one year lease. He then decided, near the end of the lease that he wanted to move somewhere else. He advised the management company on his intentions, as it was required, that he would not be renewing his lease.

He was then notified that prior to him leaving the unit, that a physical inspection of the premises would be conducted. On the day of the inspection, which was done in his presence, he was advised that there was damage to the floors and that he would be charged over five hundred dollars. He protested, only to receive a notice from the management company to this effect. He told his parents that the damage was there when he moved into the unit. When the parents contacted me to find out what can be done, my first question to them was if an inspection of the unit was conducted when he moved in, and if it was, did he receive a copy of the inspection report, and if he ever notified the management company in writing of the damage at that time? The answer to all these questions was no inspection, no written report and no written or verbal notification.

This was the break down of rule number one, which is when renting a unit it is imperative to inspect the unit before you move in. This must be done, regardless if you rent a unit in a rental building or if you rent a unit in a condominium from an investor. Management companies will have a move in inspection report form, which details all the components of the unit. It includes the status of the walls, painted or not, holes in the walls, the location of the holes; the status of the floors, regardless of whether it is a wooden floor or is carpeted; the windows and any window coverings; the bathroom and all the components in it, from the condition of the sink, to the condition of the bathtub; the kitchen and all the components there including the faucet, the sink, all the appliances, and of course if applicable, washer and dryer. When this inspection takes place, all these items should be reviewed, and any complete or partial deficiency should be noted on this inspection report. If you feel that you are not knowledgeable enough, ask a friend who is familiar with this, to come with you. Please do not forget that this inspection will be used as the benchmark when you vacate the apartment down the line. When the inspection is completed, take the time to review the move-in report carefully to ensure that any deficiencies that were noted are recorded. Make sure that you sign on every page, and a copy should be retained in your possession. This will help both you and the management company to avoid any misunderstandings later on. It is important also to remember that if a certain deficiency was overlooked during the inspection, and was noted immediately thereafter, you should bring it immediately to the attention of the management company, and in writing.

Now you are ready to move in. Please remember to notify the management company of the date and time of the move, so that the appropriate arrangements can be made by them. In the case of a high-rise building, you will need to secure the elevator so you will need to estimate the length of time that the move will take. Do not forget to consult with your moving company, in order to avoid any misunderstandings. Also, find out if there is a designated area to access the building for the move. You should also be prepared to pay a move-in deposit, which will be applied to damages that may occur during the move. It is common that a moving company is insured, and in that case, any damage to the property would be covered by them. However, if you move-in on your own, you must remember to take all necessary precautions as you will be personally responsible for any damages. The management company should put up padding to protect the elevator cab. It is your duty to ensure that it is done as any damages to the elevator cab can be very costly. You should always remember to ask for your deposit back once your move is completed. Once you are in your unit, and hopefully enjoying it, you should take care of it as if it was your own home, as it will be your responsibility for any damages that may occur in the unit during your tenancy.

When the time comes for you to move out, you should notify the management company in writing, within the prescribed timelines, of your intention to move. Please do not forget to request that a move-out inspection be completed, even though the management company will initiate it in any event. You should coordinate the date and time for the inspection. You should have with you a copy of your move-in inspection report so that any deficiencies which were noted then will not be held against you. Here again, once the inspection is completed, remember to ask for a copy of the report, and ensure that it is signed both you and the management company. Once again, when you move out remember the same steps that were taken when you moved in will apply.

It is your responsibility to ensure that both you and the management company are in agreement of the status of the unit at time of move-in and move-out. This will ensure a smooth transition at the beginning and end of your tenancy.

Shlomo Sharon is CEO of Taft Management Inc. and a member of CCI since 2002. Taft Management Inc. is an ACMO 2000 Certified Property Management Company and has been providing property management services since 1996. Visit the website www.taft-forward.com for further information or email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .