Though the process may be time consuming, bad situations can get worse if they’re never addressing them. The key when it comes to inspections is finding balance. Either extreme, too many or too little inspections, can have a negative impact; however, we’re to help!
RIGHT FROM THE START
Lease agreements are very important when it comes to inspections. By including a section which specifically addresses inspections, you set yourself up for success.
Overall, the lease agreement serves as a tool to set the standards and expectations for both parties – do the same in the inspection clause. Here is where you establish times, frequency, types, and any specific items you will be checking. Doing so will build an excellent framework for both tenants and managers/landlords to refer to.
Consistency and regularity are essential to inspections. Though several factors come into effect here, it is standard to perform at least two a year. If tenants or properties need to be held to a higher standard of accountability, simply increase the frequency.
Be considerate of your tenants’ schedules. Make sure they are aware of your visit, and give them enough time to prepare and clean the home. Showing up unannounced can be frustrating for tenants. Calling and arranging a time, followed by a posted notice, are great practices of effective communication. It is paramount to keep everyone informed, which is why we suggest at least a 24 hours’ notice prior to doing the inspection. Give them enough time to schedule accordingly.
There are times when schedules are difficult to line up, and inspections will be conducted without the tenant at home. Nonetheless, make sure it happens! In these scenarios, just take extra precaution when entering the home alone. A great practice is to announce your arrival before entering the home and each room – you never want to startle or disrupt.
MAKE A PLAN & CHECKLISTS
Just like surprise visits, no one likes improvised inspections. Take some time to make a plan!
Form a plan for each rental. Think about what systems, items, fixtures, etc., should be looked at, and be able to explain why. Create a checklist for each one to help keep the inspection fast and efficient. You should always have either a physical or digital copy of the checklist when conducting an inspection. Use these copies as a reference to ensure you cover everything.
Although it should go without saying, never go through tenants’ personal items. Any fixtures of the home – everything built with the property such a cabinets, drawers, closets, etc. – are free to open and inspect. However, furniture such as tables, desks, dressers, etc., are off limits. No amount of curiosity justifies invading tenants’ privacy.
WHAT YOU’RE EXPECTED TO INSPECT
The goal with inspections is to address anything wrong with the property. You want to check for any damage or issues, beyond normal wear and tear, on items and areas such as:
- Heat Pump/Air Conditioner (including filters)
- Smoke/CO Detectors
- Lawn/Yard when applicable
… something is wrong or broken?
Get it fixed! Never hesitate to fix something. Keeping the perspective of long-term value is far more beneficial than short-term profits. If tenants cause the damage, it is their responsibility to pay for any repairs/replacements. Likewise, if it is caused by the property’s age, it is the manager’s/landlord’s responsibility. However, actually addressing the issue is most important – ignoring a problem is never the answer.
… someone is living there who shouldn’t be?
Again, fix it! You never want to react impulsively, but you should always take action. Communication is paramount for these instances. Have a talk with the tenants and let them know having an unauthorized tenant is never allowed. Explain why it is important to know who exactly is living there. They may not understand why it is important for you to know of everyone, but it is to figure out the best way to look out for them all.
Once managers/landlords learn of the new tenants, many of them will want to move out. We say, let them! Set a hard move-out date and schedule a follow-up inspection of the property. Make it clear to the existing tenants they are expected to fulfill the lease agreement, until a new lease is signed. Nonetheless, there are some who want to stay and again we say, let them. Inform them they will need to go through the application process, and meet all the same criteria the existing tenants do. If they are good to go, then let’s celebrate their official move-in date. If they are unqualified, then again, explain to the existing tenants they are in violation of the lease agreement until a new lease is signed or the unauthorized moves out.
In the end, everyone (tenants and landlords/managers) should EXPECT TO INSPECT. These are just one way to care for the property and its tenants, as well as save you time, energy, and money down the road.