Tenant rights and responsibilities | the initial inspection

Even though it is true that landlords cannot hold tenants responsible for everyday wear and tear of rental units, tenants can be held responsible when it comes to things like stained carpeting and damaged walls. It is extremely important to document the condition of the property when first moving in so you are not held responsible for any damages that existed before you moved in.

When you are going about inspecting your new rental property, it will be necessary to thoroughly document anything out of the ordinary. Both the tenant and landlord should go through the property and inspect it together.

In certain provinces, a security deposit is only given back to the tenant when a final written inspection is performed by both the landlord and tenant together. If the inspection you perform when getting ready to move out matches all of the documentation on the move-in sheet, you will most likely be able to get your security deposit back along with interest. Please refer to Returning the Deposit, with Interest , located in the Moving Out section, to get more details on getting your deposit back.

Refer to the following lists to find out what you should look for when doing an inspection. If you cannot get an inspection checklist from your landlord, refer to the Initial Inspection Worksheet to determine what the current condition of the property is, along with the overall condition of the building or property, if applicable.

Knowing the Law

A Condition Inspection Report is required by law in British Columbia. Both the tenant and landlord need to perform the inspection together, signing and dating the form to confirm the condition of the property at the beginning of the rental agreement and when it is at an end. You can contact your local Residential Tenancy Branch office or Government Service Centre to obtain a copy of the Condition Inspection Report (101 – 3350 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC, V8Z 3L1. Phone: 250-387-1602 or online at http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/documents/RTB-27.pdf.)

FACT: Process for Inspecting a Rental Property

  • Consider asking a friend to help when inspecting the rental property
  • Thoroughly document any pre-existing damage to the property with photos and/or video
  • Get a signature from your landlord on the initial inspection sheet and keep it in a safe place at all times
  • Take note of which amenities are available to you, including parking, laundry facilities, security doors, air conditioning, etc.
  • Make a request that the landlord take responsibility for all repairs by a specific date in writing and keep copies of all correspondence with him or her

FACT: It pays to check

It is very important to check and document all damage to the rental property when you first move in, because otherwise you could end up paying for it later. There was one tenant in Ontario who ended up being financially and legally responsible for all of the damage done to their unit before they even moved in because it was not initially inspected, so they had no way to prove that they did not cause any of it.

The tenant and landlord should both sign the pre-inspection report, documenting any building items that are in a state of disrepair or need replacement on a room-by-room basis.

How to inspect structural details in a rental property

  • Carefully inspect all walls and ceilings for dents, cracks, holes, and other significant forms of damage. Also look for scuff marks that cannot be rubbed off as well as peeling wallpaper and bubbles.
  • Stains and discolouration of floors and carpeting as well as door and window frames.
  • Make sure all electrical outlets and lights are fully functional
  • Bathroom(s): check all faucets to make sure hold and cold water works without any leaking. Also check to make sure that the water coming out of the faucet runs clear and that there is adequate pressure. Look for chips and/or scratches in fixtures and tiles and countertops for dents, stains, and scratches.
  • Examine the kitchen to ensure that the faucet gives hot and cold water with no leaking and that the water runs clear. Document any scratches, scuff marks, or cracks on the countertops as well.
  • Check exterior doors and windows to make sure that they are properly sealed and that all locks work. Check for signs of leaking/water.
  • Look on the deck, balcony, or patio, if applicable, for any chipped flooring or cracked boards.

Other things to consider

  • Note the smell of the rental property. Is there a strange odor, including musty or moldy smells that could indicate problems?
  • Make sure there are fully functional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inside the property
  • If there is a storage space that you are going to be using on the premises, check to make sure it is empty and the locks are functional.