Regular inspections are one of a landlord’s best practices for keeping properties in top condition.
As your properties are one of your greatest assets, it’s your responsibility (and in your best interests) to ensure all buildings and systems are in proper working order. Property inspections allow you to catch maintenance issues before they worsen.
Inspections also help you hold tenants accountable to the lease terms. Regularly visiting your renters allows you to notice any rule-breaking, such as unauthorized pets or occupants not in the lease.
Here are five best practices for property inspections and their benefits for your rental business.
- Give a Written Notice
Landlords are legally required to give appropriate prior notice before entering a rental unit for inspection. Depending on the law in your state, you must notify tenants at least 24-48 hours before the inspection.
You should give this notice in written form, either on paper or via email.
Following this property management St George Utah law shows tenants that you respect their privacy and gives them adequate time to prepare. It also demonstrates that you know your legal obligations as a landlord.
- Provide an Inspection Checklist
Before you inspect your units, prepare an inspection checklist for tenants. This way, tenants know how to prepare before you arrive.
You might include instructions to make sure all rooms are accessible, clean up trash or messes, eliminate all safety hazards, or clear driveways and walkways.
Your checklist could also include a list of what you’ll be checking during the inspection. Include security systems and locks, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, HVAC systems, faucets, electrical outlets, mold growth or water damage, exposed electrical wires, pests, appliances, general cleanliness, etc.
If you discover any violations, you can enforce any fees or penalties described in the lease agreement. This can be done on your property management software account, just like you’d apply a late fee. Simply indicate the amount, and your software will automatically incur the fee.
- Inspect When Tenants are Home
It’s generally best to arrange a time for the inspection when your tenant is home. This way, tenants won’t feel like you’re invading their personal space while they’re away.
This practice also allows you to ask tenants questions, establish friendly relationships, and inform tenants of any problems you notice when you arrive.
Whenever possible, set the inspection for a weekday during business hours.
- Be Regular and Consistent
Inspections are only effective if you perform them regularly and consistently. Establishing a habit of inspections helps your tenants know what to expect from you during their lease term and sends the message that you care about the condition of your properties.
There are several different types of inspections you should perform regularly. These include move-in inspections, move-out inspections, routine inspections (every 3-6 months), and drive-by inspections.
- Limit Photography
Finally, try to limit unnecessary photography during inspections. Especially avoid including personal photographs, valuables, technology, or pets in pictures.
Benefits of Inspections
By following these tips, your inspections will be highly effective in maintaining the overall health and longevity of your properties. Here are some other benefits of regular inspections:
- They help maintain good tenant-landlord relationships. Landlords who inspect units regularly interact with their tenants and communicate with them more frequently.
- They help you track the condition of your rentals over time. You’re the one investing your money and resources into repairs and improvements. Inspections help you evaluate how effective they are over time.
- They aid good record-keeping of maintenance activities and repairs for tax deduction purposes. Many deductions are available for rental repairs when filing your taxes with the IRS. Good records of when appliances or systems were broken help you justify your reasoning for claiming a deduction. If you use property management software, you can also manage complaints and repairs using a maintenance management tool.
- They help you plan for big projects, renovations, and regular preventative maintenance. If you have any larger renovation projects on your mind, inspections help you plan appropriately for them.
- They encourage tenants to take care of their units. When tenants see that you check up on your properties regularly, they are more likely to mirror your actions and pay closer attention to the condition of their units themselves.
Perfecting Your Rental Inspections
Rental inspections are your best method of keeping tabs on your units over time. They also help you emphasize what you prioritize in maintaining your properties. By giving proper notice, allowing tenants to prepare with a checklist, respecting privacy, and inspecting regularly, you can perfect your inspection practices and plan for future rental goals.