14 Aug 2012
We've all been there: wondering if we should live on or off post. Well, whether you choose to live on or off post there are some things you need to know regarding the initial move in. My husband and I have experienced both - on and off post living throughout his career in the Army and I have a few suggestions to help make sure you don't miss any critical details.
1. Do a quick sweep of the home with the landlord or your housing counselor, keeping an eye out for any major damages or deal-breakers.
2. Find out if they want to be present while you conduct a more thorough walk-through, or if they have a policy giving you additional time to get your findings to them.
3. Use a check-list to help you stay organized (you can see mine on our Facebook page) while doing your walk through.
4. Start at the front door and begin walking around the outside of the house. Note every little spot on the paint / siding. Note the condition of the grass and any trees / plants that are there. Look at all your window screens / window glass / garage door / wood around garage door / driveway (are there oil stains) / fence (if applicable) / screen doors / the condition of the front and back door and any exposed wires etc. you see.
5. Return to the front door and begin the walk through of the inside of the home. Pay special attention to the baseboards and corners - scratches / chew marks from a dog / stains / mismatched paint and look for any places where the trim itself is damaged or missing.
6. Look at the walls - mismatched paint / holes / large holes that are visible or have been patched / scratches / chew marks from a dog / signs of mold from a leaky roof and make sure you note everything.
7. Look in every closet in the house and note any and all things you see damaged or missing in the home.
8. Open every single drawer and cabinet in the home - note all missing parts / damage and if the previous renters left anything behind (such as hair in the bathroom drawers).
9. Look through the appliances that are property of the homeowner - note anything that appears to be wrong with them. If the freezer was not defrosted between renters note that as well. Turn on all appliances - stove / burners on the stove top / dishwasher / ice maker microwave / washer and dryer etc.
10. Look at all light fixtures - are all bulbs good / are they scratched and ask the landlord if they require you to use specific bulbs. If so ask them if they will provide them. This is also a good time to make sure all the lights appear to be in good working condition.
11. Turn on every water faucet in the house and check the water pressure, also check for rust at this time. Flush all toilets and make sure they all are in good condition. If you are paying a lot of money out of pocket over your BAH for rent taste the water and make sure you are happy with the taste. If you don't like the taste and feel you can not live with the water consider how much it will cost to get a filter or purchase bottled water.
12. If the home comes with curtains then make sure they are clean / free of dog and or cat hair / in good condition / if they are blinds make sure they work properly and check all curtain rods and how secure they are to the wall.
13. Floors are important too. Make sure you note every scratch / stain / missing tiles / mismatched carpet / nails sticking out of the carpet / broken tiles / burn marks and note everyone of them.
14. If you have ceiling fans make sure they are secure to the ceiling and not missing any parts. Make sure the fans are in good working condition in both modes (both directions).
15. Now with your photo camera take pictures of everything you have noted in your walk through report.
16. If you have a video camera use it to videotape the home (this will help to note all conditions). Talk to the video camera as if you are speaking to the landlord.
Once you have completed the initial walk through report, contact the landlord and make an appointment to go over your report. (Bring any photos you feel will help you explain the report.) At this time ask the landlord to put in writing anything you will be charged for upon move out. Such as painting all walls / removal of any plants you have planted while you lived there / dry-cleaning of any curtains / professional cleaning of the carpets / professional cleaning of the appliances etc. If the home you are moving into does not have gardening service make sure you have the landlord put in writing how you need to care for the lawn and plants.
It is very important to get everything in writing and I am talking about everything. You do not want anything to be a surprise when you move out. When you get your lease from the landlord make sure you read every word...every word! If you do not agree with anything you will need to discuss your concerns with the landlord before you sign the lease.
Remember it is always better to be safe then sorry. Living in on post housing is a great thing - it is close to the soldiers office / DOD schools are awesome / the shopping (commissary and PX) are convenient and the prices are awesome / your yard work is taken care of for you / everyone in your housing development is like family / the kiddos loves having all their friends so close to their home...there are many more advantages but I don't want to write a book. ;-)