The Proof Is In The Pixels: How Digital Photos Can Alleviate Move-Out Disputes

An apartment inspector’s task list for each move-out is formidable, time-consuming, and must be completed on a tight deadline. However, new technologies are making it easier for inspectors and property managers to gather the information they need and link it directly to a tenant’s account, saving time for all involved - and even settling a few disputes along the way.

Snapping pictures of carpets, walls, doors, and window treatments isn’t a new practice - inspectors typically take hundreds of photos every day to determine whether tenants are entitled to reclaim their full damage deposits. The challenge arises when inspectors return to their offices and are faced with downloading and reconciling those photos with specific tenants and particular units.


It’s a time-sapping, inefficient, process that usually requires copious handwritten notes and overfilled filing cabinets to keep straight. The advent of new digital inspection platforms that include embedded photography functionality addresses this pain point.  With apps of this nature, photographs are instantly time-stamped, assigned to a specific tenant, and uploaded to the property management company’s database. That way photos are automatically included in every file and can be accessed at a moment’s notice.

This functionality is particularly useful when an inspector discovers something that could require holding back a portion or all of the damage deposit – for example, a large dark stain on a carpet – but the tenant disputes responsibility, claiming the stain was there when he or she moved in.  A time-date-stamped photo taken when the previous tenant moved out can settle these kinds of disputes in a hurry. This approach doesn’t just save time, but it also saves money by reducing legal costs, speeding up rentals of vacant units, and preventing expensive mistakes.

In our nearly paperless world, one in which people relocate with increasing frequency, platforms like this are poised to revolutionize the inspection industry. If you manage rental properties, it’s something that you might want to consider.