Experienced investors know that a lot can happen to a rental property between tenants. To minimize surprises and ensure your property is being well-maintained, you have to take a look at it once in a while.
If the only time you walk through your rental is at move out, you are doing yourself and your investment a disservice.
Take it from an Orlando property management leader – you do not need to stay in the dark.
Why Inspect Your Investment Property Periodically
Periodic interior and exterior property inspections can shed light on the condition of the property and also the situation of your tenants. You’ll know if there’s any unreported maintenance. Most owners expect tenants to report repair needs immediately, and most of them do. But, if your tenant is afraid to tell you about an appliance that’s been broken or a leak that has started, you’re going to have a small repair turn into a large and expensive problem.
Our experienced team at Specialized Property Management offers all of our owners routine property care assessments which are conducted by qualified personnel.
There are five simple steps to a successful rental property inspection, and we’re sharing those with you today.
Determine How Frequently You Want to Inspect
Every owner, landlord, or property manager needs to conduct a thorough inspection before a tenant moves into the property. This should be expected. It’s the only way you can reliably document the condition of the home while it’s still completely in your possession. It also gives you the ability to check for any repairs or maintenance issues that might be required before you have someone living there. You can make sure the property is clean and you can check to make sure the light bulbs work and the toilets flush.
Beyond that initial inspection, determine how many times you’ll want to visit the property during the tenancy. We recommend you do quarterly or semi-annual inspections to ensure frequent reviews. You want to balance the protection of your property with the privacy of your tenants. Residents aren’t going to want you stopping by every month. They’ll want to enjoy their home and be left alone. So, think about visiting once during the tenancy or twice. Three times might be acceptable as well, but don’t make your inspection schedule too disruptive to your tenants.
Discuss Inspections During the Lease Signing
Communicate the inspection schedule at your lease signing. This will avoid any surprises when you want to schedule a time to visit the property and conduct an evaluation. When your tenants know that you’re going to do frequent inspections throughout the lease term, they’ll understand that you take caring for your property very seriously. This will make them more likely to take care of the home on an ongoing basis. If they know you’re going to stop by every few months, they’ll be more likely to keep the place clean and maintained. They’ll also be more likely to follow the terms of the lease.
This is part of establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your tenants. It provides for transparent and open communication, and it sets the expectations early on in the lease period. This will have a positive effect on the entire leasing experience for everyone.
While you are discussing your inspection schedule, take the time to review your move-in inspection report. Let your tenants know that you have taken pictures and documented the condition. Give them the opportunity to add anything that they’ve noticed. Sign that inspection report with your tenants, and be sure to review it when you do future inspections so you will know if there is any damage that’s been done since move-in.
Providing Notice Before you Inspect
It’s very important that you provide your tenants with advanced notice prior to an inspection. You cannot simply show up on a whim and surprise your residents. We recommend that you provide written notice so that it’s documented. Send an email or a text message and let them know which day and at what time you’ll be arriving at the house. With sufficient notice, tenants are often happy to have inspections completed and issues proactively addressed.
Keep in mind that notice isn’t required if you’re simply driving by the property to see how things look from the outside. If you happen to be in the area, it’s a good idea to do a drive-by. This will tell you if everything looks good, or if there’s something going on that may require an immediate scheduling of an interior inspection.
Reviewing and Evaluating your Investment Property
Once you schedule your inspection and show up at the property, there are a number of specific things you should be looking for. Most importantly, you’ll check to ensure everything is working the way it should. Look at the following maintenance issues while you’re there:
- Look at the exterior of the property. Make sure there aren’t any branches or debris on the roof or covering the sides of the house and the windows. Check the landscaping and the lawn as well as any outdoor space. If you have a pool or a spa, make sure they are clean and functional.
- Check under every sink for signs of leaks. Run the water in the faucets and the tubs and check the caulking.
- Take a look at the furnace and the water heater. Ask your tenants how frequently they change the air filters, and if the air conditioning is running efficiently. A property’s heating and cooling system is usually the most expensive thing to repair or replace, so it’s a good idea to have it inspected and serviced by a professional technician at least once a year.
- Make sure the water heater is in good shape. Some tanks will need to be flushed annually in order to keep them running efficiently. Look for rust or corrosion.
- Test all other mechanical functions in the property, including outlets and appliances. Ask the tenants if there have been any problems so you can address them.
You will hopefully note that everything is in good shape. If you notice that something needs attention, schedule the service right away. Be sure to document the property’s condition in a report, and take pictures of anything that looks worn, broken, or in need of maintenance. Add this inspection report to your move-in records.
Check for Lease Compliance
Maintenance is the primary reason you’re inspecting your property regularly. But, you’re also enforcing your lease. This is a perfect opportunity to ensure your tenant’s lease compliance. Confirm that the number of occupants is consistent with the number that’s on the lease. If it looks like any unauthorized residents are living in the property, discuss it with your tenants. You also want to look for evidence of pets. The pets currently at the home should match the pets you approved when the tenant applied for the home. If there are more cats than you approved or a dog that you haven’t seen before, make sure you bring your tenants into compliance with the lease.
You don’t have to turn any lease violations into an uncomfortable conflict. Make your notes and then send your tenants something in writing that expresses your concern about the things you noticed while inside the home. You can provide instructions on how to come into compliance, and then do another inspection to confirm that the issues were taken care of. Document all of your correspondence in case your tenants do not comply with the lease and you need to take the matter further.
Reasonable and expected property inspections are usually not a problem for good tenants. While the main purpose is to check for unreported maintenance and to look for lease compliance, these meetings can also allow you to connect in-person with your residents. You can make sure they are happy in your property, and discuss anything they may need to have a more enjoyable experience renting your home.
In the end, tenants are more likely to care for the property when they see that the owner cares for the property as well. They’ll appreciate that you care enough to respond to maintenance issues, and they’ll want to meet your standards an expectations.
Regular property inspections an important part of the rental process. If you are not conducting regular inspections and making sure your tenants are in compliance with all regulations, it is time to start protecting yourself and your tenants. Make this a routine part of your lease agreement so you can hold yourself and your tenants accountable to the outstanding care and support of your property.
Working with a professional Orlando property management company can help, because then you won’t have to do the inspections yourself; you can count on your experienced property managers to handle them for you. At Specialized Property Management, your management team can do all this for you and more. With condition reports and supporting photos all uploaded to your private online owner portal, you’re always informed about what’s going on at your property.
Put our experienced team and proven process to work for you. Contact Specialized Property Management today with any further questions.