The Initial Inspection

While landlords cannot hold tenants responsible for normal wear and tear, tenants can be required to fix other damage, such as stained carpets or a dented wall. Establishing the condition of the premises on move-in day is important, so you are not held liable for damage that existed before your tenancy.

When inspecting your new place, be thorough and document everything you notice. The tenant and the landlord should inspect the rental premises together.

In some provinces, a security deposit is repayable only upon final written inspection by both tenant and landlord. If your move-out inspection matches the details on the move-in inspection sheet, you should have no trouble regaining your damage deposit, plus interest. (See Returning the Deposit, with Interest in the Moving Out section, for information on getting your deposit back.)

The following lists contain what you should watch for during an inspection. If your new landlord does not provide an inspection checklist, use the Initial Inspection Worksheet provided to establish the condition of the living space, as well as the condition of the building and/or property, if applicable.

It's the Law

In British Columbia, a Condition Inspection Report is required by law. The tenant and the landlord need to complete, sign, and date the form to show the condition of the residential premises at the beginning and end of the rental agreement. To obtain a Condition Inspection Report, contact your nearest Residential Tenancy Branch office or the
Government Service Centre, 101 – 3350 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC, V8Z 3L1.
Phone: 250-387-1602.

FactHow to Inspect a Rental Property

  • Inspections can be a big job, so consider enlisting help from a friend.
  • Inspect your new rental property, documenting any pre-existing problems. Videotape and/or photograph problems, if possible.
  • Have your landlord sign the initial inspection sheet and keep that documentation somewhere safe.
  • Note what amenities are available: laundry facilities, air conditioning, parking, security doors, etc.
  • Request, in writing, that the landlord make necessary repairs by a specific date and keep copies of all correspondence with the landlord.

What to Look for During an Inspection Structural Details

  • Walls and ceilings: note any dents, holes, or cracks in the plaster; scuff marks that don't rub off; tears, bubbles, or peeling wallpaper.
  • Floors: note stains or discolouration in carpets; tears in linoleum; cracked or chipped tiles; dents, scuffs, or stains on hardwood floors.
  • Trim (including moldings, door and window sills and door and window frames): note stains, cracks, leaks or other problems.
  • Electrical outlets and lights: make sure they function.
  • Bathroom(s): make sure all faucets (hot and cold) work without leaking; water runs clear, not brown or yellow; water carries sufficient pressure in the shower and toilet; hot water tank holds enough for your needs. Check for chips or scratches in fixtures and tiles; walls around the tub for "sponginess"; countertops for dents, scratches, or stains.
  • Kitchen: make sure all faucets (hot and cold) work without leaking; water runs clear, not brown or yellow; all appliances work and are clean. Check for chips or scratches in fixtures and tiles; countertops for dents, scratches, or stains.
  • Exterior doors and windows: make sure they seal properly and the locks work; watch for signs of water.
  • Deck, balcony or patio, if applicable: check for chipped stone, warped or cracked boards, or problems with exterior siding.

Other Inspection Details:

  • Smell the air in the rental unit. Does it have an unusual odor, such as a musty or moldy smell?
  • Check for working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • If you have a storage area, make sure it is empty and the locks are secure.

FactCheck First, or Pay Later

One Ontario tenant learned the hard way about the importance of inspections. Neither the landlord nor the tenant thoroughly inspected the property when she moved in. To her regret, when she moved out, she was held legally and financially responsible for removing a wall that previous tenants had constructed in her rental unit. Source: The Ottawa Citizen.

Both the tenant and the landlord should sign the pre-inspection report noting any building items needing repair or replacement on a room-by-room basis.


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