Regular assessments of your rental properties are important when you want your investments to succeed. You need to know that the properties are in good condition, and you need to be able to check for deferred maintenance and other repair needs. Inspections are also important while tenants are in place so you can make sure there aren’t any lease violations or issues that need your attention.
There are different types of routine inspections and assessments that will benefit you, your tenants, and your property.
Pre-Market Property Assessment
Before you begin advertising your property, it is important to do a good and thorough assessment so you can have peace of mind that it’s ready for showings. Check off safety features and maintenance functions of the property and make a list of any issues that you will need to address.
This inspection is important because you want to make sure the home is rent-ready for tenants to see. When you market your property and invite prospective tenants to showings, you need to offer them a property that is ready for move-in. Good tenants are not going to be interested in a home that still needs work.
Check the appliances to make sure they are clean and working. Look at the condition of the floor and the paint, and test every outlet. Turn on every faucet. Look for leaks under sinks and check the gutters and the roof for debris and standing water. Make sure the light bulbs and filters are changed. Have the home cleaned professionally and inspect every detail before you take marketing photos and schedule showings.
Move-in Property Assessment
Many professional property managers would agree that the move-in inspection is the most important assessment there is. This is critical because it will serve as the documented condition report for your property before a tenant moves in. You need to establish the condition of your home before you hand its keys over to your tenants.
This assessment should be done right before your tenant takes over the property. It must be detailed and well-documented. Go through the house and inspect every detail just like you did during the inspection you conducted before you put the property on the market. This time, you want to take pictures and videos so you know exactly how the home looks. This will provide you with documentation at the end of the lease, if a tenant moves out and leaves property damage behind.
During this assessment, be honest about the things that are not intact or perfect. If there’s a loose doorknob on a closet door, include that problem in your report. This way, tenants won’t be held responsible for the wobbly doorknob if it falls off. Your tenants will be appreciative of the transparency and the honesty. You should also give them the opportunity to review your condition report and add anything that they discover.
The move-in assessment should be signed by both the landlord (or the property manager) and the tenant. With those signatures, you can be sure that everyone agrees on the condition of the home.
Scheduling an Assessment During the Lease Period
We recommend that you get inside your property at least once during a tenancy. If you live close, you can drive by the home from time to time to make sure everything looks okay from the outside. However, you want to get a look at the inside of the property halfway through the lease period, while your tenants are living there.
Be considerate when you’re scheduling this assessment. Your tenants are entitled to privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their home, which means you cannot show up unannounced to look around. Instead, set the expectation that you will conduct an assessment near the middle of the lease agreement period to check on the property and see what type of condition it is in. Give your tenants plenty of notice before you show up. Put your intentions in writing, so you can document when and how you told the tenants you’d be dropping in.
While you’re at the property, check for two things. First, you want to look for any unreported maintenance. Maybe your tenants have not noticed a leak under a bathroom sink. Perhaps there are things that need to be fixed that they didn’t think necessitated a maintenance request. You want to know how your property is looking and whether everything is functioning the way it should.
The second thing you’re looking for during this inspection or assessment is how the tenant is performing. Look for any potential lease violations and address them immediately. For example, if you have a strict no-pet policy and you see evidence of dogs or cats living in the home, you’ll want to talk to your tenants about that.
Your tenants can decide whether they want to be present during your assessment. If they are at home while you’re looking around, it’s a good time to talk to them about the property and measure their level of satisfaction with their rental experience. Be available to answer any questions and address any concerns. This will help you maintain a positive working relationship with your tenants, increasing the chance that they’ll want to renew their lease when it’s time.
Preventative Maintenance Assessments
Preventative maintenance is a critical component in your overall maintenance plan. While there will always be routine repairs that are necessary during a tenancy, preventative maintenance can help you avoid large and unexpected costs.
Preventative maintenance will put you on a scheduled rotation of inspections and services. These inspections can be made by professionals quarterly, semiannually, or annually. This assessment gives the owner a view of the condition of the home during tenancy and identifies any needed maintenance or repairs that may be required before they become a major issue.
One of the things you should absolutely have inspected annually is your HVAC system. Air conditioning is an essential part of home ownership in Florida, and Orlando has extremely high temperatures for most of the year. The cooling unit must be working well and efficiently at all times. Schedule a technician to take a look at the heating and cooling system at least once a year. It’s also important to train the tenants on changing air filters regularly. You can have the technician check the air filters during these preventative assessments.
Another important part of preventative maintenance is pest control. Have your property treated regularly for inspects and rodents. Schedule someone to check the roof every year, especially before hurricane season.
Maintenance Visit Assessment
When you have a good relationship with your vendors, you can train them to perform inspections and assessments at your rental properties. These are professionals who will know when things need maintenance and attention. When a tenant reports a plumbing issue, you can send your plumber over to take care of the problem, and then ask the plumber to check out all of the other pipes and faucets in the property. Good vendors can also be trusted to take a quick look around and make sure there’s nothing of concern happening at your property.
Make sure you’re working with good vendors who you can trust. When you establish respectful relationships with professional vendors and contractors, you can rely on them to help you maintain your home for the long term and increase the value of your asset.
Conducting the Move-out Assessment
You will circle back to the move-in assessment and its report when it’s time to conduct the move-out assessment. The most important thing to remember during this inspection is that you’re comparing the condition of your property at move-out to the way it looked at move-in.
Before the tenants move out, we recommend sending them a checklist to let them know what you will expect before they leave the property. Typical requirements include moving all personal property out of the home and returning all keys and belongings to the property management company or landlord. If you tell them exactly what they need to do in order to receive their security deposit back, there will be no confusion and a lower risk of conflicts with your tenants after they move out.
After the tenant turns in the keys and leaves the property, go through it with as much detail as you did when you conducted the move-in assessment. Take pictures of all the same things and make notes about how things are looking and working. When you document everything thoroughly, it will be easy to see what’s different. You’ll need to know how to differentiate normal wear and tear from actual tenant damage. Taking good pictures and notes will allow you to do this easily.
Conducting inspections and assessments is an important part of maintaining and protecting your property. If you’re working with a property management company, you’ll have a professional team taking care of these things for you.
We’d be happy to help. If you have any further questions about Orlando property management or how to conduct effective inspections, please contact us at Specialized Property Management in Orlando.