Preparing for the final inspection of your rental property is a task not to be taken lightly. This is the all-important moment when you turn the keys to the property back over to your landlord and your responsibility for the property comes to an end.
The departure inspection is an important appointment that will determine how much of your security deposit will be reimbursed. For example, if you have rented a furnished apartment in France, you can anticipate a return of two month’s rent. For unfurnished apartments, expect to be reimbursed one month’s rent.
That said, it is best not to assume that those are the only funds in question. You can find yourself being billed for additional amounts if your apartment is not properly prepared for the departure inspection.
How a Departure Inspection Works
Either a specialist from the agency (or management company), a civil clerk or the landlord, will be present to document the state of your apartment at the time you turn over your keys. The information will be compared to your entry report to determine any damage that may have occurred during your tenancy. It is important that you take time to prepare for this inspection by reviewing your entry report, examining any changes that have occurred during the time of your residency and making any necessary improvements. Note that it is generally less costly to handle needed repairs on your own, rather than face a larger bill by the landlord for the same repair.
Your apartment will likely not look the same as when you moved in, and normal “wear and tear” is expected with any rental. The amount of time you have spent in the apartment (whether six months or six years) will be considered, as the amount of expected wear will vary for each length of stay.
At time of inspection, a full report will be prepared of the walls, floors, ceilings, faucets, windows, appliances, electrical outlets, heaters, locks, as well as the state of the kitchen, bathrooms and garden (if applicable). You should have already done this when you moved in, so you will know what to expect. As you can see from the list below, your property will be thoroughly inspected from top to bottom, including all angles! The final inspection is key for the landlord, as it will determine how much he can take from your security deposit.
Some items, such as the toilet seat, hand-held shower and silicone molding, are specifically checked as they are the tenant’s responsibility to maintain and change, when necessary. Holes must be filled and the garden (if there is one) maintained. If there are any signs of water damage, be sure you have made a declaration with your insurance company, or you could be expected to pay for the repair.
Specific locations and specific wording will be used to describe the damage (yellow, stained, scraped, unglued, rusty, torn, scribbled, holed, etc.).
Once signed by both parties, the departure report is considered final. This is different than your entry report, where you are allowed 10 days to make amendments. Try your best to ensure you are present when the departure inspection occurs, If you cannot be there, be sure to hire someone to manage the inspection for you. We do not recommend leaving your keys with the real estate agency to manage in your absence. If you must leave France prior to the end of your notice period, arrange with the landlord to do the inspection before you leave. You will still need to pay the rent up until the end of your notice period, but you will not be responsible for the home once you turn in the keys.
If you have made any home improvements (added shelving, closets, etc.), you may be able to leave them in place if you get pre-approval to do so. Technically, all tenants are supposed to return a property in the same condition that they found it (minus normal wear and tear). However, do check with your property management about any home improvements you have made. Either request an appointment or send photos of the improvements via email. You will want to get approval in advance. Otherwise, you could be billed to have the improvements taken down, along with the cost of any wall repair. This is particularly important in the case of any kitchen cabinetry you may have installed in an unequipped kitchen.
The landlord is legally allowed up to two months to reimburse your security deposit if any damage has been done. Beyond this date, they can be required to pay late fees. If the state of the apartment is found to be identical, they will reimburse within one month. Be sure to keep your bank account open, even if you are leaving France, to allow them to credit your account.
The following check list will help you verify you have fulfilled all your maintenance responsibilities:
- Remove all personal belongings from your cellar and garage.
- All carpets must be shampooed and all floors washed.
- Bathrooms and toilets must be cleaned and in working order.
- Ventilations must be must be cleaned and unclogged.
- Kitchen area, hot plates, refrigerator, cupboards, doors, switches and windows must be cleaned.
- All personal contents must be removed from cabinetry and the cabinetry must be cleaned.
- Don’t forget to clean your appliances and defrost your freezer if there is one.
- Silicone joints around washrooms (wash basin, sink, tub) should be in good condition and free of mold. If any sign of mold or deterioration is seen, replace with new caulking.
- Replace small parts if faucet leaks (washers, etc).
- Shower hoses in poor condition must be replaced, as well as broken toilet seats.
- Check for leaks in the plumbing, and have any leaks fixed before departure. (Note: The landlord could be responsible for the leak, depending on the nature of it. It is Important to handle this kind of issue before the departure inspection.)
If you have an individual gas heater, be sure it has had maintenance service less than one year ago. Have a copy of the bill ready to provide to the landlord.
If you have electric heaters, they should all be in the same working order as found when you moved in.
- Any broken switches must be replaced, and unsealed plugs or switches replaced.
- Leave the sockets and bulbs in working order.
- Leave working bulbs in place if they were working when you arrived. If a bulb was nonexistent or not working when you arrived (and clearly noted on the entry report), you are not obligated to replace it.
- Grilled fuses must be replaced.
Windows and Doors
- Broken doors or cracked windows must be fixed or replaced if they were caused during tenancy.
- All holes must be carefully filled. If there are more than 10 significant holes on a wall, it is better to repaint the wall. Be careful not to drill holes in the woodwork (doors, etc.), nor in any tile surface.
- The lawn must be mowed, hedges trimmed, and weeds removed from paths.
- Repair and replacement of irrigation systems, fences (if damage has occurred during tenancy).
- Drainage of the water drainage pipes.
- Remove leaves and debris from gutters.
- Return all keys that were provided to you at your entrance. Any missing key will be charged.
- If a key proves defective and does not open the door concerned, the lock will be replaced at the expense of the tenant.
- The garage door or parking remote controls must also be returned in working order.
The departure inspection is an important and comprehensive one, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Know that you always have the option of asking your agency, or a relocation agency like ours, to help you through the task. We can even schedule a pre-visit to help you clearly identify everything that must be done to prepare for your final inspection. Contact us for more information.