One of the primary ways that a property management company protects your real estate investments is by completing regular and thorough rental property inspections.
A good inspection can make the difference between getting reimbursed for tenant damage and having to pay for it out of your pocket. Let’s examine the four types of rental property inspections and see what your property inspector should be looking for.
Types of Rental Property Inspections
In order to keep your property in its best condition, regular property inspections are essential. There are four main reasons that warrant a property inspection
Move-in Inspections. The move-in property inspection has one primary function. It is to document any pre-existing damage to the rental unit prior to a new tenant taking occupancy. While this inspection needs to be completed by the tenant, the property management inspector should be there as well.
The tenant and the rental inspector should go through the unit or property together. The move-in inspection form should be carefully completed.
Any issues or damage that could result in a deduction from their security deposit should be written down in detail. If there are problems with the unit, like a leaky faucet, this should be noted by the inspector and repaired as soon as realistically possible
It is recommended that photographic evidence is attached to the completed move-in inspection form. The inspector should snap a photo of every carpet stain, drywall nick, or tile damage.
This will make it much easier for the property inspector to verify pre-existing damage when the tenant moves out. The new tenant needs to sign and date this form and it should be placed in their file.
Routine Inspections. Routine inspections are an excellent way to stay on tabs with the tenant. If they know that every 6 months to a year there will be a full inspection of the rental unit, they are much more likely to keep it in good condition.
It will also enable the property management company to monitor the condition of the unit, the quality of the tenant, and any pressing or future maintenance concerns.
If the tenant has caused damage to the unit, it should be noted on the inspection form and documented by photographic evidence.
If the damage is minor, the tenant may be responsible for the repair with a follow-up inspection being scheduled within a reasonable amount of time. If professional repairs need to be completed, the tenant may be responsible for reimbursing the property manager or landlord.
Exterior Inspections. A lot can be gathered from driving by the rental property. The state of the yard indicates the likely condition inside the home. If trash is piling up, now is a good time to write a letter to the tenant. If the tenants have sneaked in a “banned” pet, a drive-by inspection could be a quick and easy way to tell. Any matters of concern should be noted in the tenant’s file and handled promptly.
Move-Out Inspections. The move-out inspection is the follow-up to the move-in inspection. We hope your property manager has kept their records. Within a day or so of the tenant moving out of the rental property, the property inspector should meet the tenant at the unit and complete another dual inspection together.
The property manager’s inspector will bring the original move-in inspection form and compare any documented damage to the current state of the rental property.
Any damage that would warrant a reimbursal from the security deposit should be documented on the move-out form and pictures should be taken. Photographic proof holds up very well in court.
Who Should Inspect the Rental Property?
This duty is the responsibility of the landlord unless he or she has hired a property management company. If so, then this is their area of expertise. The property management company should send someone who is skilled and experienced.
An error here could cost the property owner hundreds of dollars. So, that being said, the property manager will either want to complete the inspection themselves or send a staff member that has an eye for detail and is a meticulous note taker.
What Does a Property Inspector Look For?
While some items of damage are just obvious – such as the bathroom door that is hanging on one hinge or the burnt countertop or that big nasty purple stain in the living room – there are others that require more careful attention.
A property inspector needs to look under the sink for water damage. He or she should be on the lookout for evidence of infestation. The inspector should make a note of all damage, holes, nicks or dings on the drywall and all stains, tears, or discoloration on the flooring.
The property inspector should also be on the lookout for “replacement” items. A tenant may swap out your nice ceiling light for some cheapo one from Walmart. They may make off with the quality hardware and faucets and replace them with Craigslist freebies.
In addition to looking for damage or theft, the inspection of the rental property should include a safety inspection. One of the services that a good property management company will offer is to actively work to reduce liability. This includes keeping all stairs and railings in good order. The driveway should be patched where necessary.
All electrical outlets and switches should be in good condition. The plumbing should be tight and without leaks. The furnace and air conditioning units should be regularly inspected as well and maintenance should be scheduled.
A property manager does much more than deposit the rent checks, they are active participants in the daily management of your rental properties. Regular inspections are an essential activity that is necessary to protect your valuable investment.
As the property owner, you have a right to examine the move-in and move-out inspection sheets and to review your property manager’s schedule of inspections. Performing and documenting regular inspections is an indicator that you have chosen a highly skilled property management company.