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I moved into a shared house. The landlord will be wanting a damage deposit (aka security deposit), though I know for a fact that he hasn't inspected the room after the previous tenant moved out. Is he required by law to do this before I pay for the damage deposit?

This is in B.C. Canada.

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In British Columbia, if the landlord fails to complete a condition report,

[t]he right of a landlord to claim against a security deposit or a pet damage deposit, or both, for damage to residential property is extinguished

The damage deposit can be (and generally is) required as a condition of entering the tenancy agreement. The inspection has to happen on the day you move in or at another mutually agreed time in order for the landlord to maintain their right to claim against the damage deposit.

  • Wow...if that were the law in the U.S. that would save a lot of people from going to court over deposit issues – gracey209 Sep 27 '15 at 21:39
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You should document the condition of the property with photographs before you move in.

This will be your evidence if later you are charged for something that you did not do — or was already that way when you moved in. As @DaleM points out this is called a Dilapidation Report.

When you fight for your security deposit back if there is a later dispute, it will be a battle of evidence. If you claim something was that way when you moved in, you must prove it. Photographs with a timestamp will be useful if not necessary to prove your case.

You can prove the time stamp by posting the photos to a third party image host (like Flicker, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.) that has a reliable timestamp at the time of posting.

  • What's stopping the tenant from damaging the room, taking a picture of it, and then claiming it was always like that? I seriously doubt things like the time stamp on flicker would be considered admissible in a small claims court. Also, during the move in day something could get damaged moving large furniture in (e.g. the wall would get scratched) so it would be hard to know this down to the minute. – Alex Sep 21 '15 at 21:32
  • It becomes a question of onus of proof - the landlord has the onus to show that the photo was taken after you did the damage; it is unlikely he has any evidence for this, you, however, have evidence that the damage existed on the day you moved in. – Dale M Sep 21 '15 at 23:15
  • The technical term for documenting the pre-existing condition is a "dilapidation report" - I see no problem with sending a copy to the landlord rather than a third-party. If they want to dispute the veracity of the report then they need to do it then - they are in a very poor position if they try to argue at the end of the lease about evidence provided at the beginning. – Dale M Sep 21 '15 at 23:17
  • I agree with @DaleM's advice to send the landlord a copy. However, if they claim they never received a copy, the third party neutral web site would be a good backup. Also, landlord record keeping is sometimes sloppy when the records they are asked to keep would lead to them losing money not taking it. I mean making it. – Mowzer Sep 22 '15 at 0:45

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