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What is a rental property inspection, and how to perform it?

What is a rental property inspection, and how to perform it?

2 months ago

·

9 min read

Written by

Parminder Singh

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As a responsible rental property owner, you should ensure that your tenants respect your property and keep to the lease agreement, which is where property inspections come to save the day.


Regular property inspections are a vital part of effective property management. Besides helping detect lease violations, a rent inspection allows the landlord to identify potential issues early and avoid costly repairs.


If you're new to this business, stay with us. In this guide, we're taking a closer look at inspecting a rental property, discussing why rental property inspections are essential, exploring their most common types, and answering some frequently asked questions.

What is a rental property inspection?

A rental property inspection is a visit to a property unit made by a landlord or property manager to check its condition. As a rule of thumb, landlords conduct inspections before tenants move into the property and after they move out; however, it's a good idea to carry out routine inspections on a regular basis.

Landlords and property managers conducting inspections on their behalf have the right to make inspections regularly. Make sure you check with the local laws whether you have to notify your tenant about the upcoming inspection in advance.


Why is it important to perform one?

Periodic inspection of rental property gives landlords peace of mind that their units are in good condition or helps identify minor property damage early before it turns into a costly issue. And not only that. Here are the main reasons why regular inspections are important: 

  1. Inspections help ensure that tenants are keeping to the rental agreement. Your tenants need to follow the rules stated in the contract. Regular inspections let landlords check if the tenants are observing the rules, for instance, if they are making any modifications to your property. 
  2. Inspections allow you to spot maintenance issues. Frequently, tenants only bother to inform the landlord about a maintenance issue once it starts causing direct inconvenience to them. Regular inspections help you stay in control and fix issues at the right time before they've led to significant damage.
  3. Rental inspections help maintain the value of the property. By identifying issues early and regularly ensuring that the property is in its best condition, you have higher chances of maintaining its value, which translates into a higher return on investment.


Types of inspections for rental property

As mentioned, a responsible rental housing business doesn't mean performing move-in and move-out inspections only. There are a few types of property inspections you need to know to manage your rental property more effectively.


Move-in inspection

As its name suggests, a move-in inspection is done right before a tenant moves in, when the lease is completed and signed. A move-in inspection involves recording information about the condition of the property, including the following items:

  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning),
  • flooring, walls, ceilings,
  • doors and windows,
  • electrical outlets and appliances, etc.

A rental inspection checklist is kept with the lease.


Move-out inspection

On the contrary, a move-out inspection is the one made at the moment a tenant moves out. This type of inspection is done to confirm the property's condition and identify damage to be paid for.

The landlord can claim damages from the tenant's security deposit. But, again, this highlights the importance of a thorough initial inspection — you need a clear record of a move-in inspection to have something to compare against.


Bi-annual / Quarterly

Despite being often overlooked, bi-annually or quarterly inspections are crucial if you want to effectively maintain the value of your property and make the most of your investment. By inspecting your rental units regularly, you can avoid potential damage to your property. Moreover, regular inspections will let your tenants understand that you're serious about maintaining your property in the best condition, motivating them to stick to the rules. Therefore, it's essential to inform your tenant about regular inspections upfront. Hence, they know what to expect and have no objection to inspections.


Drive-by

A drive-by inspection is a quick check of the outside of the unit. Although they don't typically require advance notice, drive-by inspections shouldn't violate the tenant's privacy.


How to conduct a property inspection

Inspection for rental property should be done with a clear plan. In this section, we're providing steps to make sure your inspection goes smoothly and you don't miss anything.


Notify your tenants about inspections

Most states require that landlords provide written notice of an upcoming inspection at least 24 hours in advance. And even if you run your property rental business in a state that doesn't require it, it's polite to do so. Your tenant might need to book a day off from work to be able to let you in. You can write an email or send a letter via the post.


Start with compliance checks

Each landlord has to perform inspections to fulfill their duty of care to the tenant's safety and health: 

  • Gas safety. Besides providing your tenants with a copy of the gas safety certificate when they move in, as a landlord, you have to take care that every gas appliance is checked by a Gas Safe engineer once a year.
  • Fire safety. Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and replace batteries if needed.
  • Electrical safety. Once in five years, invite a registered electrician to run a check to get an Electrical Installation Condition Report.

Inspect the property for tenancy breaches

Next, inspect your property for tenancy breaches, including:

  • Illegal activity. Some signs of illegal activity are apparent. For instance, drug abuse can be easy to identify through smell and equipment.
  • Subletting. Your tenant might sublet your property without your permission to make a profit. Check your property for signs indicating that your tenants might be subletting it, such as the number of beds.
  • Smoking. Check the home for cigarette smell and nicotine stains on decoration and furnishings.
  • Pets. If your lease agreement doesn't allow pets, check whether your tenant adheres to it. While they can keep food bowls and baskets out of sight, inspect the home for other signs that aren't so easy to hide, such as pet hair, scratched doors, dug-up grass, etc.


Check and record the property's condition

Finally, inspect your property for damage and record all the changes in the condition of each item compared to the previous inspection. Make sure you check the home for the following:

  • Damp and mold. Damp and mold can turn into costly damage. Check the property for flaking paint, dark patches, and mold spores, which can be caused by your tenant not ventilating or heating the home.
  • Leaks and blocked drains. Likewise, leaks and drips can lead to major damage, so inspect the taps and plumbing regularly. Also, examine your property for blocked drains — they can cause dampness issues and a bad smell.
  • Cleanliness. Although a landlord can't dictate to a tenant how to live in the rented home, you can suggest ways to improve cleanliness if the lack of it damages the property.


How ProofKeep can help you avoid rental property inspections issues

That's great when your tenants are responsible and do their best to maintain the property in its initial condition. However, unfortunately, that's not always the case. Your tenants can violate the agreement and do things that can cause damage to your property. Moreover, they can refuse to pay for the damage, claiming it is not their fault.


The only way to avoid this kind of situation is to have a properly documented record of the initial condition of your property and any damage caused. The great news is that this can be done with the help of an application you can download and run on your phone.

ProofKeep™ is a user-friendly mobile application that acts as an impartial witness and can be used for capturing video, audio, and photographic evidence of any event.

 

Unlike video, audio, or photos captured with any other app, ProofKeep™ ensures that the proof captured through it remains authentic and untampered, providing impartial and credible evidence to streamline resolving disputes, saving you time and stress.


FAQ

What happens at a rental inspection?

The rental inspection process involves a landlord looking at any signs of pets unless the agreement allows them; inspecting the property for leaks, mold damage, and pests; checking carbon dioxide detectors, air conditioning, and electric appliances; inspecting the property for violations such as smoking inside, illegal activity, or subletting the unit without landlord's permission.


What is the goal of a rental inspection?

The major goal of a rental inspection is to assess the property's condition. In other words, landlords perform inspections to ensure that the tenant takes proper care of the property and to check it for maintenance or safety issues.


How frequently can a landlord inspect a rental property?

Conducting multiple inspections during a year is one of the basic landlord rights. Most states require that the landlord provides a 24-hour notice of the upcoming inspection. Still, a landlord can visit the property without notice in some circumstances, such as an emergency.


How frequently should a landlord inspect the property?

While many landlords conduct only move-in and move-out inspections, inspecting the property more often, once in three or at least six months, is recommended. This helps to identify issues early and save costs.


Can a landlord let themselves in?

A landlord can enter the property only in an emergency without notice or permission.


Can a tenant refuse landlord inspection?

In most cases, no, since it is a breach of the agreement.


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Parminder Singh

Technologist, Conceptual Designer, Lifelong Learner, Story Teller
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