Upon move-in, most landlords require that tenants pay a security deposit, which is money that a landlord may use to account for damages to the property or other tenant failures. By performing a move-in inspection, both landlords and tenants can determine the condition of a rental unit at the time the tenants take possession.
The purpose of a move-out inspection is to assess the state of the rental unit when tenants leave the property. This information is compared to the information provided in the move-in inspection and is often the basis for security deposit deductions.
On one extreme, if a landlord plans to deduct any portion of the security deposit, some states mandate a landlord to perform move-out inspections and inform a tenant of the charges that will be made. On the other end, some states only recommend that such inspections are conducted and landlords have more leeway in determining security deposit deductions.
Taking photographs of the rental unit when you move-in can be extremely helpful in showing the state of the apartment and can help protect against unwarranted move-out charges.
Because of landlord-tenants laws vary by state, and in some cases even by county, a local real estate lawyer is in the best position to advise you of applicable housing laws and to inform you of more specific move-in and move-out procedures.