If you don’t already take pictures of each of the apartments in your building, it is time you started. While many landlords with experience in the profession do this already, if you’re new to the game, it’s something you will most likely overlook. There are many reasons why it might be time to start taking pictures of your apartments. Taking them before a tenant moves in and taking move out pictures too is one of the best ways to track the changes each tenant makes to the physical aspects of the apartment and the rooms inside it. Here are some of the ways in which having pictures as proof of your apartment’s integrity might come in handy in the future.
It is your responsibility, under law, to provide your tenants with apartments they can live in. This is called the warranty of habitability, and it is usually an implied warranty that doesn’t have to be specifically stated. It is common for a tenant to start a dispute with you stating that the apartment they moved into was not habitable in the first place. This is true for instances where the heating or hot water doesn’t work, but it can also be due to an infestation by rodents or insects.
Having photo proof is the best way to show a judge that you weren’t the cause of such an incident. Take pictures of every nook and cranny of your apartment before a tenant moves in. You can use a moving in and moving out photo app to make it easier to organize all these pictures. If you can prove that the tenant was the cause of the lack of habitability, they will have to pay for the repairs on their own.
One last thing to do is take pictures of all the public areas in your building on a regular basis. The warranty of habitability applies to the common areas of the building, including living rooms, hallways, elevators, outdoor gardens, and more. By having regularly updated photo proof of these parts of your building, you ensure that a fraudulent habitability case won’t turn your landlordship upside down.
It is important that you take move out pictures at all times. If you can use a moving out photo app and coordinate it with your apartment management software, it will be even better for you in the long run. When it comes to property damage cases, these pictures can come in handy. You should first do some research on the laws concerning such damages in your state and city. For the most part, normal wear and tear is something you are responsible for. This includes scuffs from their shoes, depressed floorboard, and rugs that are wearing down.
There are other types of damage that your tenants cause either accidentally or on purpose. These damages include broken floorboards, cat feces all over your walls (this actually happened!) and burns. Any damages that are either temporary or permanent that weren’t there when the tenant moved in and that will cost you money to fix can be cause for a lawsuit. Taking pictures of all the damages you see and having pictures of the apartment before they moved in to compare them to can lead to most property damage cases being very open and shut.
The security deposit paid by your tenants exists for one reason – to cover costs if you need to repair any damages they leave behind when they move out. Security deposits are required to be returned to the tenant when they move out of the apartment at the end of the lease, provided that there aren’t any permanent damages to the apartment. Now, this doesn’t mean normal wear and tear, of course. You need to have a legitimate reason to keep their security deposit. The best way to find a reason and prove it in court is to take pictures of your apartment before they ever move in.
When you compare the move-in to the move-out picture you really should be taking, the difference should be obvious. There was a notable case recently where a tenant left an apartment in a truly deplorable state, then sued the landlord for damages. The landlord immediately produced pictures taken before the tenant moved in, resulting in them winning the case.
Taking moving in and move out pictures of your apartments is one of the best ways to keep yourself safe. You can easily solve property damage issues, habitability disputes, security deposit cases and more with photographic or video evidence of the condition of the apartment. Remember to keep these pictures updated and to take them right before a new tenant moves in!
With ValencePics there is no need to invest in a new camera, and you won’t have to worry about importing, storing and organizing photos. Just snap a picture on a mobile device using the app, and you can quickly catalog and store the information on a secure cloud without taking up memory on your device. Pictures automatically sync with your ValenceDocs database. Check out the video below to see a quick demo. ValencePics is free to Texas Apartment Association members through the Click & Lease program, as well as ValencePM and ValenceDocs users.