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Landlord Tenant Q&A

Owner, Principal Broker
Cornerstone Properties
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers and
National Conference Speaker

Q. I am going to be renting out my house. I have heard that it is important to complete an Inventory and Condition Form for a home prior to moving in a tenant. Can you please explain what exactly this is, what the importance is, and where I can find one? Also, some suggestions for filling it out to protect myself the best way possible would be appreciated.

A. Good question and a very important one! It is absolutely critical that an initial and final written Inventory and Condition Form (ICF) be done. It is for the owners’ and the tenants’ protection. Each professional Property Manager may have slightly different ways of doing ICF’s – but they all do them. What is it? It’s a document stating what the condition of the property is at any given time, usually when you do the initial walk-through with the tenant after a lease is signed.

On the form you indicate the condition of things such as appliances, wall, carpets, toilets, doors, etc. It is subjective – but that is why both parties sign the form upon completion. There is a meeting of the minds as it were. Pictures are also a good idea. When I fill one out I notate the model and serial numbers of the major appliances.

I mentioned that filling out an Inventory and Condition Form protects the owners. How does it do that? If you do not have one and if you go to court, you are sunk! Let’s say the tenant broke the toilet tank lid. You as the owner of course want to charge the tenant and take it from his deposit. Tenant says, “No, it was like that.” He goes to court and sues you for it. If there is no written ICF, the judge will always side with the tenant because Hawaii Revised Statutes 521-42 (a) allow that “if the landlord fails to provide an inventory and written record, the condition of the premises and any furnishings or appliances provided, upon the termination of the tenancy shall be rebuttably presumed to be the same as when the tenant first occupied the premises.” Same is true for the tenant. Owner takes out $300 to remove the big stain in the carpet. Tenant says, “Wait a minute! It was there when we moved in! Look at the ICF!” So it works both ways and keeps the situation fair.

Answers to questions in Landlord Tenant Q&A are provided by members of the Oahu Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), an organization that supports the professional and ethical practices of rental home management through networking, education, and certification. The Oahu Chapter, founded in 2004, has become the largest in the nation with 175 registered members.

Disclaimer: The answers provided in this column by Realtors address individual cases and should not be construed as interpretations of the law. For specific information on Hawaii State Law, go to http:// dcca/areas /ocp/ land-lord_tenant or contact an attorney.

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