Rental Property Inspections... Protect Your Investment With Regular Checks



Rental property inspections are one of the more mundane rental property management tasks. Don't ignore them though because even the nicest of tenants can be absolute slobs!

 

And the moral of these stories?

Don't let your inspections slip -- no matter what your first impressions of a tenant are. You never know what is going on behind closed doors!

Rental Property Inspections

You might decide to do an inspection for any of the following reasons:

  • Routine rental property inspections
  • Late rent inspection
  • Suspect tenant has quit the property
  • Maintenance inspection
  • Anti-social behaviour.

Make sure you put your inspection policy into your lease and draw your tenant's attention to it when they are signing. This way there will be no surprises later on.

On any inspection it is a good idea to have a copy of the letter you sent with you and any other relevant correspondence too.

Routine inspections

The norm for frequency of rental property inspections tends to be quarterly. Any more frequent than this -- without good reason -- will be annoying for a tenant.

You may want to adjust the frequency of inspections depending on what you find but it is a good idea to keep them regular no matter what, as things can change.

It is impractical to do a full check of the inventory on each visit but you'll obviously be able to tell whether major items have gone missing.

You will want to inspect the following points when you visit. You may find it useful to have a printed checklist to bring with you so that you don't forget anything while you're there.

  • General cleanliness and tidiness
  • Are the terms of the lease being adhered to? Is there evidence of smoking when the lease states no smoking? Is there evidence that the tenant is keeping pets when they shouldn't be? Are there additional tenants in residence not named on the lease?
  • Interior maintenance issues -- the seal around the bath or shower tray can be prone to deterioration so check this, check for any interior damp patches on walls or ceilings where there could be water ingress from the roof or the flat above
  • Exterior maintenance issues -- check the roof, rough-casting, guttering and down pipes
  • Garden -- if there's a garden, is the tenant keeping it tidy and the grass cut?

If the tenant is not keeping the property as you would expect then follow up your visit with a letter stating the issues and arranging a follow-up inspection, giving the tenant time to rectify the issue(s).

Late rent inspections

When rent is paid late and you are unable to contact the tenant by phone, arrange an inspection as soon as possible.

If you suspect that they may have left permanently, then take a witness with you and a camera to document what you see.

If the tenant is not present, then you can do a bit of detective work to see if they have left or not:

  • Have the neighbours seen them lately?
  • Has your inspection notice been lifted from behind the door? Has it been opened?
  • What is the latest opened / unopened mail that you can see? (But don't open unopened letters!)
  • What are the dates on the food in the fridge, e.g. milk?
  • Is the electricity / gas on?
  • Are there any clothes in the wardrobes / drawers? Toiletries in the bathroom?

Abandonment

If you suspect that your tenant has absconded -- tempting as it may be -- unfortunately you can't just change the locks and get another tenant.

You need to tread very carefully as tenants can come back after they have apparently left and there are large fines for unlawful eviction!

Consult a solicitor before proceeding if this happens to you.

Our recommendation for solicitors providing fixed-fee eviction and rent arrears collection is Legal4Landlords.


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