Property Inspections in Rental Properties

News at Robert Oulsnam and Company | 08/05/2019




Why Regular Property Inspections are a Good Idea

Part of owning, or living, in a rental property means that you will be involved in property inspections at some point in time.  Why are property inspections in rental properties a useful undertaking for both tenants and landlords?  What are the advantages in a rental property inspection?

What is the Point of a Property Inspection?

Inspections allow landlords or estate agents to identify small repairs or maintenance and nip them in the bud effectively.  Often, something as simple as a small leak or damp patch can escalate into an expensive job which could be damaging to the property.  

It is also important to document any findings on inspections as these could potentially be used in any deposit disputes at the end of the tenancy.  This is a beneficial process for both the landlord and the tenants involved.

Given the common factor that tenants often work fulltime, they can be tricky to organise at a mutually convenient time.  This does not mean that property inspections should be overlooked or ignored!  If you fail to undertake a property inspection regularly, how will you know if the property is being looked after?  For a landlord, this could lead to expensive rectifications at the end of the tenancy period.

What do you Mean by ‘Regular’?

Regular does not mean every week or even every month.  That would be untenable for everyone involved!  In our opinion, the ideal time frame for a property inspection in a rental property is at least one per quarter.  

If it is less than this, small maintenance issues may not be reported which could escalate into a larger and costlier affair.

Who is Best Placed to Manage the Inspections?

You might not be surprised to learn that there is a lot of legislation relating to how and when you can organise to carry out a property inspection in a rental property.  

It is crucial that you are very careful about giving enough notice to go into the property. Additionally, you have an obligation to respect your tenant’s quiet enjoyment under Common Law.  If permission is refused and you still enter the property because you have given 24 hours’ notice then it could be deemed as trespass or harassment; this is why it’s so important to have a good professional relationship with your tenants.

In our opinion, a Letting Agent is likely the best placed organisation to carry out these inspections for you. They will understand the law and their obligations, and also those of the tenants.  

Often, property management services are included as part of a managed letting service that you will have agreed at the point of renting your property.  If not, this is a service that most estate agents will be able to add on to a let-only service.

Ultimately if a tenant continues to refuse access then you have to ask yourself why- what are they trying to hide? In this instance then it would be very sensible to question whether the tenancy should be extended and a notice to be served. 

Common Mistakes to Make

We have often been engaged by landlords to provide a fully managed letting service following previous bad experiences of doing the inspections themselves.  It is often assumed that if the tenant is paying the rent on time then all is fine.  It is vitally important to make sure that you do physically see the inside of your property to verify this!

Prevention is Better than Cure

As is often the case, it’s better to catch things early before they turn into something bigger and nastier. So, you could kind of view property inspections like an early Lemsip when you see everyone else in the office start to sneeze!

For example, if there is a small amount of mould or scale build up in a bathroom identified, we can speak to tenants early on to keep on top of it.  

Filled gutters, blocked drains and moss build up can be addressed as this is often something which tenants do not notice and report. 

It’s really important to remember that tenants don’t always fail to report things because they are being neglectful; often it’s because they don’t want to come across as a tenant that’s always moaning!  

So, if you want to be an effective landlord with well managed properties, it might be a good idea to make sure that your agent has quarterly reviews booked into their diaries!

 


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