One of the most important aspects of protecting your investment is doing regular property inspections. You have to get in the property on a routine basis to make sure there is no property damage and to make sure the lease is being followed. How often you do your inspections is up to you a landlord. You want to do them frequently enough that you can assure your property is in good condition and the tenant is following the lease, but not too often that it infringes upon the enjoyment of the tenant and causes poor landlord-tenant relations. Tenants who have good inspections routinely have good inspections. Likewise, tenants who have problematic inspections have routinely bad inspections. Therefore, the timing of the first inspection is more important than the frequency of inspections. If there are going to be problems, they will usually manifest within 90 days of the tenant move-in.
For more on property inspections, I would recommend this article form the blog of Smart Move by Transunion. Here is an excerpt:
As a landlord, performing property inspections is an important part of your job. Even if you have a great tenant, routine inspections can help prevent big problems down the road. They also indicate to a tenant the type of condition you expect the property to be returned in. After all, if you don’t care about the property, why should they?
A good landlord-tenant relationship involves cooperation and communication, and this especially applies to handling a rental property inspections. Here are some tips on when to perform one, how to do so while protecting tenant privacy, and the do’s and don’ts you should know when performing a property inspection.
WHAT IS A RENTAL PROPERTY INSPECTION?
According to Zillow, a rental property inspection is a good way to track the condition of your property. It involves the landlord or the property manager periodically reviewing the property inside and out to assess the condition of the property. A rental property inspection is often conducted while the tenant is present so they are informed of any issues or concerns that arise.
A rental property inspection allows for you and your tenant to review the condition of the property before they move in, and sets the expectation of the condition in which it should be returned. It’s also an opportunity for you to fix any previously unnoticed repairs before the tenant moves in, which sets the stage for a positive professional relationship with your tenant.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PERFORM ONE?
Performing a rental property inspection helps you to maintain the condition of your property. According to The Balance,inspections can help you account for any deductions taken from the tenant’s security deposit if they damage the property. So having a clear view of the property’s condition before your tenant moves in and when they move out is important to managing your property.
WHEN SHOULD YOU PERFORM ONE?
BiggerPockets recommends four types of inspections that you should conduct on your property:
- Move-in inspection – This inspection should be conducted by you and the tenant during the move-in process. Some landlords use a move-in checklist to document any issues with the property, and then ask the tenant to sign and date the form. Some landlords also find it helpful to take photos of any existing damage to keep along with the paperwork.
- Move-out inspection – This inspection helps you determine the condition of the property when the tenant leaves. easyProperty notes that you’ll want to schedule the walk-through on the day your tenants vacate the premises. If you do it too early, they may cause damage during the last few days on the property or in the process of moving out. For example, hardwood floors can easily be scratched while moving heavy furniture. If you do it too late, the tenants may be able to claim that the damage was not caused by them.
- Routine inspection – This inspection should be conducted every three to six months to ensure that the property is still in top condition. It allows you to stay on top of maintenance issues that are your responsibility, and gives tenants a chance to correct any damage they have caused before it gets worse.
- Drive-by inspection – This inspection doesn’t require advanced notification, since you’re not entering the property. You’re simply observing if there are any issues on the outside of the property that would indicate a routine inspection is in order.
HOW TO PERFORM A RENTAL PROPERTY INSPECTION: DO’S AND DON’TS
There are laws that protect renters’ legal rights when it comes to inspections, so you’ll want to make sure you’re acting accordingly. Consult with an attorney or legal aid source to identify what laws might apply to your inspections. These do’s and don’ts will help keep your tenant happy, meaning less chance of an early tenant turnover. Some issues you should consider:
- Do give prior notice – Be sure you are aware of the laws governing the amount of notice required before an inspection. You may want to consult an attorney or other legal source in order to understand your obligations.
- Do encourage your tenant to be at home – BiggerPocketsrecommends that you have tenants sign documentation about the condition of the property. This gives you a chance to talk to your tenant about any needed repairs, or point out damages they will need to fix before the lease runs out.
- Do explain why the inspection is necessary – Providing a reason for your visit helps the tenant understand that it benefits you as well as them.
- Don’t photograph personal items – While some landlords support written documentation with photos, Zillowrecommends keeping the tenants’ pets out of the picture. It’s a good idea to leave identifiable personal items out of the picture to protect a tenant’s privacy. This includes people, pets, and pictures, as well as valuable items like computers.
- Don’t engage in confrontation with tenants – Landlords take pride in their property, so it can be hard not to take it personally if you notice neglect or damages. If the tenant has complaints, The Balance points out that you should remain calm and professional. Any problems should be addressed in writing instead of verbally.