How can a tenant protect thier rights before moving in?

UPDATED: Apr 10, 2012

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How can a tenant protect thier rights before moving in?

My housemates and I signed a lease for a house. We only realized too late that the person who we rented the house from works for a landlord in the area notorious for keeping the entire security deposit and charging extra for clean-up when their tenants’ leases are up. We plan on taking pictures of the house’s condition before we move in and start our lease. How could we make it so that these photos would be useful if we needed to take legal action?

Asked on April 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Take photos using some digital camera that records date and time--that's not dispositive, but it is helpful. Consider video too--especially if it's video where you can narrate what you're looking at (i.e. has a soundtrack).

2) Have other people do some "final walk through" or inspection with you. If you have to sue to recover a wrongfully withheld security deposit, fundamentally, all evidence will be either the testimony of people with personal knowledge, or documents (like photos) authenticated by people with personal knowledge; the more witnesses you can potentially call, the better.

3) If you should pay for any repairs or buy anything, keep the receipts to prove it later.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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