How to Perform a Rental Property Inspection

Performing a Rental Property Inspection

When Should a Landlord Inspect their Rental Property?

Move in of new tenant (conduct a move in inspection complete with photos).

When moving in the new resident, our recommendation is to use a property management inspection software compatible with your needs. In the past, we have used the following :

Regardless of which software you may choose, I would recommend choosing a software that provides ease of use and a flexible “cloud” so that you can gather your reports on the fly. These softwares are perfect to photo-document condition as well as spell out any specific defects to the property.

When conducting your move in inspection, it is important to spell out your expectations of how to treat the property over the term of the lease. This includes :

  • When to change furnace filter
  • How and when to change smoke and carbon monoxide batteries
  • What is considered an emergency repair versus a non-emergency repair
  • How to change humidifier filter
  • How to shutoff the water main to home
  • Circuit breaker box location and how to reset a breaker that has tripped
  • Confirm that utilities have been switched into the tenant name by start date of the lease

Make sure you walk the property with the tenant TOGETHER. Notify your new resident of any improvements made to the property and spell out what you consider to be “normal wear and tear” as most tenants like to know EXACTLY what they will be responsible for at the end of the lease term.

30 Days after move in to confirm tenant is living in accordance to your standards.

With this inspection, you are really just trying to obtain confirmation that your tenant has moved in comfortably and that they live and treat the property as you would expect.

With this type of inspection, the landlord should not come off as “spying” on their tenant.  Rather, you may wish to setup an appointment with a tenant to confirm that “thermostat batteries need replacement” or to dropoff new furnace filters. It’s a good way to show your tenant that you care while obtaining vital information that they will keep up with the upkeep on the property.

Should you find that your tenant is treating the property poorly (i.e. : dishes not being washed, bags of garbage in kitchen, dirty flooring), I found it effective to ask them about it kindly.  If you receive a positive response, you may go as far as asking the tenant to give you a firm date this can be corrected. Regardless, this is a window for gentle correction and should be handled with care.

Every quarter to perform preventative maintenence checks.

Now that you have set your precedent after the 30 day window, you will be following up quarterly.  Again, using a software to document the condition of the property is the best way to go!

With these inspections, you are confirming the following :

  • No additional residents occupying the property that are not on the lease
  • No additional pets occupying the property that are not on lease
  • Inspect appliances to confirm they are working properly
  • Change furnace filter
  • Inspect battery life on thermostat
  • Check A/C to confirm it is clean and functioning
  • Confirm cleanliness of interior of rental property
  • Insure exterior is being maintained properly

Using your inspection software, take plenty of photos and notes.  This will assist greatly in the move out inspection of the property as well.

Move out of tenant (conduct a move out inspection report with photos).

Perhaps the most nerve racking inspection of them all!

Here is why…the tenant wants their security deposit back.  Fast. Now. Right away.

Confirm with your state law when you must return the security back by (specific date) and if you have to include receipts for damages repaired.  Also, confirm if your state abides by “normal wear and tear” as an offense the tenant is not responsible for in obtaining their security deposit back.

Regardless, photo document all defects to the rental property using the software described above. It would be recommended that walking the property, with the tenant, upon move out be performed. Just get ready for excuses. So, it’s best to shut your mouth, photo document, and notify the tenant that you will followup with them by a specific time/date based upon the damages you foresee.

Then, meet your promises by following up with the tenant on that specific date.  Spell out the specific repairs needed, costs involved, and that you will be returning the balance of the security deposit on a specific time and date.

NOTE : This blog is written by a professional property manager and landlord. This blog is NOT to be considered legal advice for a landlord/tenant matter. Consult a local attorney for guidance based upon your scenario.