If you’re a landlord that self-manages your property or uses a let-only service from a letting agent, you should be conducting regular checks of your rental property. Property inspections are a useful way to evaluate the state of your property and how well it’s being looked after by tenants.
Rather than waiting until a tenant reports damage or a maintenance issue, it is recommended that you carry out repairs before issues mount up and damage worsens.
It is a good idea to carry out quarterly inspections if you have new tenancies, biannually for longer term tenancies. Set regular reminders so that you don’t forget!
You must notify the tenant in writing if you intend to visit the property, and provide at least 24 hours’ notice before doing so. While it is at your discretion how many inspections you carry out, be aware that carrying them out in excess could well be an annoyance to tenants.
It is important to remember that you will be entering their home and must agree to an inspection before you enter the premise. It is up to the tenants whether or not they wish to be present for the inspection. Property inspections can feel intrusive, so it’s quite normal for them to want to attend.
It is a good idea to carry out inspections after your tenants have checked in. This way, you can spot potential issues before they become more serious problems. At this point you should also consider completing a detailed inventory report, ensuring that you record the condition of all the items that you have provided for the property. Lettings agents often provide this service, and there are companies that will provide this service to a high standard to ensure all details are noted. This will make things much easier when the tenant checks out.
Compile a report of your findings and clearly outline action points for your tenants ahead of your next visit.
Inventory reports should include:
|Contact details for the tenants and the landlord|
|Date of inventory report|
|List of fixtures and fittings, specifying what condition they are in|
|Signatures of both the tenants and the landlord, declaring that both parties agree to the inventory report|
When the tenancy is up, you will also need to carry out inspections, maybe a couple of weeks prior to your tenants’ check out date. It is best not to wait until the end of the tenancy to carry out an inspection since you want to be aware of any damage ahead of the check out date. This will help to minimise void periods to carry out works.
Send out an email to your tenants reminding them of their responsibilities prior to moving out. These could include the removal of all their personal belongings, leaving the property in a clean state, ensuring bins have been thrown out, etc.
Bear in mind that there is going to have been some general wear and tear within the property. You should have allowed for this within the tenancy agreement. Focus more on whether there are any missing items and how the current condition of the property compares to how it was when the tenants moved in.
If you are happy with the state of the property, you can go ahead and return your tenants’ deposits. If you aren’t, be sure to take photos of the damage since these can be used to decide how much of the original deposit to be withheld. Photos can also be used as evidence if your tenant disputes your decision.
It is also recommended that you carry out seasonal inspections, this will allow you to address season-specific issues. During a Summer inspection, you should pay extra attention to the garden since it is more likely to be overgrown during this period. You may also find that roofs and chimneys face more damage at this time of year.If you have student tenants, you will have to start thinking about carrying out inspections soon before the end of the academic year.
Arthur has compiled a list of what to look for when you come to carry out an inspection:
|Smoke alarms – these can often get clogged with dust|
|Carbon monoxide detectors|
|Heating, water, and electricity – check each tap and shower unit, radiator and light switch|
|Access to escape routes|
|If you let out a HMO, check fire doors can be closed properly|
|Carry out a risk assessment, identify possible hazards and assess how the risks can be managed|
|Faulty plumbing or leakages|
General condition of the property:
|Doors and windows|
|Floors and walls|
|Any furniture you have provided in the property|
|Loft and attic|
Tenancy agreement breaches:
|Faulty plumbing or leakages|
What happens if your tenants refuse?
You should never force entry into the property, you are only allowed to enter the premises without consent in the case of an emergency. If you do, it could be considered harassment against the tenants.
You should write to your tenant and inform them that inspections are meant to ensure the property is safe and, should they refuse, they will be responsible for any damages.
If they still refuse, they are in breach of their tenancy contract and so it is within your right to take legal action.
Even though inspections can be tedious, they are a great way to keep in touch with your tenants and make sure they aren’t experiencing any problems in your property, as well as ensuring the upkeep of your property.Just remember to bring a toolbox and some WD40 just in case there are any quick fixes!