In the last post, we covered how the three pillars of improving security deposit awareness are documentation, collaboration, and knowledge of the law. Today we’re diving in on documentation to look more at how using pictures and video to help prove past/present state of your place.
It’s no secret that pictures can do a better job of proving the state of your apartment than text. It’s one thing to describe your place, but a picture is worth a thousand words!
Before starting any documentation, try to do this exercise with your property manager or landlord. Documenting things by yourself is an ok alternative, but if you can start your tenancy on exactly the same page with regards to the state of the place, it’ll be even better down the road.
Once you (hopefully!) find a time for you and your landlord to walk through the place together, the big thing to keep in mind is to be thorough. The cost to store pictures/videos is almost free and it’s better to have too much documentation instead of not enough.
First start by taking a video. Make sure to mention the date in it so that it can be confirmed it was shot during move in and not down the road, and take the video in landscape mode to maximize the quality of the recording. You can take one running video but breaking it up in to a clip for each room might be easier to manage down the road and find something you’re looking for. With this video, you especially want to make sure to highlight things that pictures won’t do justice to.
- How well do the sinks drain?
- Do all of the doors close well and have tight hinges?
- Do all of the blinds work?
- Do all of the windows open and close properly?
Aside from the movable things in the place, it’s good to have a running narrative of what you’re seeing and use this first walkthrough with the video to give you specific things that you need to come back and document further.
Once you have your walkthrough video taken care of, it’s time to start taking photos. Again, don’t be shy about taking photos. This article from Trulia (https://www.trulia.com/blog/6-photos-that-can-save-renters-money/) gives some great initial ideas of things to document, but don’t stop there. As you’re going through your move-in checklist, make sure to take at least 1 picture for each item on the list.
The Trulia list describes these 6 categories that need extra documentation:
- Soap scum / sink stains
- Appliances (inside and outside of them)
- Landscaping / exterior
Beyond this list, make sure to have pictures of every room. Don’t forget to get pictures of the floorboards, the ceilings, light fixtures, wall sockets, etc. Remember, no picture is too specific and it’s important to document both the good and bad that you find!
After you have your place fully documented with both the videos and the photos, you should still fill out a checklist that can go into the specifics of the state of everything there’s pictures of. The last step is to, share the documentation with all parties involved. You want to make sure that not just one person has a copy of this information and that it’s obvious when it was generated and shared!.