Should a tenant be in attendance at the final (or vacate) inspection?

In an ideal world this question would most likely be answered with a resounding “yes”. You, as the Property Manager, would meet at the property with the vacating tenant along with your highly detailed entry report for comparison,  the two of you would stroll amicably through the residence admiring the refined cleaning skills of your tenant and agreeably tick off the completion of all aspects of the condition report. You would shake hands on a job well done, hand over the bond refund form and wish them well for the future. They’re happy, you’re happy, no “it was like that when we moved in”, no fiddly follow ups to re-check jobs not completed, no angst for the owner....yes that would be perfect.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and whilst there are tenants out there that are fabulous and accommodating there are also many that aren’t. Although to be fair, it can often be a case of misunderstood expectations on behalf of both owners and tenants and this is where the professionalism of the Property Manager really comes in to play.

It may be argued that doing a vacate without a tenant in tow is potentially less stressful because the property manager is able to perform the inspection without distractions and submit their findings direct to the tenant for follow up. However, this relief is short lived as the subsequent issues that can develop as a result of tenants who argue your assessment, or are difficult to contact and the time constraints of trying to get these issues resolved before the next tenant moves in can be a much bigger hassle than having them present at the inspection.

By far the biggest “deal breaker” in settling disputes is the amount of detail in the original entry condition report. If the property manager has been diligent in detailing every aspect of the property, right down to colours of wall paint and window dressings etc AND ensured that the tenant has been equally conscientious in filling out their initial assessment then this document can be confidently used as the non-negotiable standard by which the vacate report is judged. It is therefore the “front end” of a tenancy placement that quite often dictates how much hassle you may experience at the “back end,” being the vacate inspection.

My personal advice would be to encourage your tenant to attend if possible. If they can’t or won’t then it needs to be clearly explained that your vacate report and the subsequent agreement on bond repayment will be based on your comparison to the original entry condition report. If you have taken over management from another agent this can sometimes be tricky, as you have to ultimately rely on the previous manager’s attention to detail in their original report. Again this drives home the point that if all Managers act professionally in this aspect and ensure the tenant completes and returns their copy of the entry report then this should negate most issues.

If your tenant is able to attend then you should arrive approximately half an hour before the scheduled time to meet them. This will allow you that “private time” to inspect the property without distractions and make notes whereby you can point out directly with the tenant any aspects of the property which may be under question. Being able to physically show the tenant areas that may need further attention means that specifics can be discussed so that there is no confusion as to what your expectations are.

If you have managed the property well you will hopefully have a sound relationship with your tenant which will permit a mutually beneficial outcome. After all, the tenant will most likely need your reference for their next application. Similarly, if you have kept your owner up to date on maintenance requirements and periodic inspections then they too will hopefully be on side for any charges to them and not have false expectations as to what tenants must pay for on vacating.

At the end of the day, the onus is ultimately on the Property Manager to effectively manage the property in such a way that the question of whether or not a tenant should be present at the vacate inspection is simply a case of whether or not they are available. If relationships and paperwork are managed professionally the Property Manager should always feel confident in addressing any concerns with either tenants or owners regarding the vacate inspection of a property.