Tricks of the Trade: The best way to protect yourself from a tenant’s false claims

At first, it didn’t occur to me to take pictures of my properties, except for standard listing photos.   That was a mistake.

Occasionally I had “disagreements” with my renters when checking them out.  I’d point out that, for example, trees needed to be trimmed or weeds pulled.  In response, I’d hear “It was like that when we moved in.”   So I started taking general pictures of each area of the house before new tenants moved in.  A picture or two of each room or section of yard.

That wasn’t enough.  In subsequent years I found myself pointing out damage such as nicks on counters and damage to bathroom cabinets due to moisture or dripping water.  I KNEW that the renters had caused the damage, but often this type of detail didn’t show up in the more general photos that I had taken.

Now I photograph EVERYTHING.

 

I take hundreds of photos of each property right before I check in new tenants (allow yourself several hours for this).  Photos that show every wall, ceiling, and floor.  Pictures inside and outside of cabinets.  Close ups of sinks.  Tiles in showers.  Shelves in the pantry.  The amount of mulch in the flower beds.  EVERYTHING.

I’ve also learned to take photographs of damage that has been caused by the renters, often while doing the exit walk-through.    This hopefully will prevent complaints about security deposits not being returned in full.   I haven’t had a problem with this yet, but it seems like a good idea.

There’s nothing like producing a dated photo from your computer or phone to prove move-in condition.  A picture truly is worth a thousand words — and possibly thousands of dollars.

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