Most landlords don’t live in their rental property buildings. After all, they probably start out as already owning houses and then, after a while, choose to build rental properties in another location to increase their income and build their real estate portfolio. Some of the seasoned ones have several rental properties in the same area in order to manage them easier or in different areas with the help of administrators or property managers.
Even though most landlords don’t live in their rental property buildings, it is very important to conduct regular and routine property inspections. This will ensure that your property is being well cared for by the tenants living in it. You can also ask your property manager to do the regular inspections.
Why do you need to do regular property inspections on your rental property?
1. To make sure that your tenants are following the agreed upon rules
First of all, make sure that you include in the contract the agreed upon expectation on conduct and care of your property. Not all tenants are alike, so make sure to have a set of agreed-upon rules or set of expectations. If this is a family neighborhood, you can put in the agreement that the tenants are expected to keep noise to a minimum, especially after a set time (like 9pm) to avoid inconveniencing the other neighbors. You can also stipulate that the care of rental unit lawns or front and/or backyard should be up to the tenants. While it is expected that the tenants go through careful screening by the landlords, even the very best tenants may suddenly have challenges, become busy, or careless. To give the tenants incentive to keep the rental property in tip-top shape, you should let them know as a landlord that there will be regular property inspections. Strive to keep them within a regular schedule, say every month or every other month at a specific time so that the tenants can prepare for the site visit.
2. To make sure that, as a landlord, you are meeting your tenants’ needs
The landlord-tenant agreement is a two-way agreement. You also need to make sure that you are keeping up your end of the bargain by ensuring that the property you are renting out is clean, safe and a conducive place to live in. Regular property inspections can help you find issues that may cause problems later if left unaddressed. For example, Seattle rental properties are prone to leaks and water damage since it is a relatively rainy city. Property inspections can be a good forum to open issues with tenants with regard to repairs.
3. To prevent serious problems down the line
Rental property problems emerge with just the normal wear and tear of everyday life. By doing a regular rental property inspection, you can catch these problems before they become serious money draining ones. The weather can cause minor damages to your rental property that can turn into bigger issues. A small leak in the rainy season can grow to be a huge problem that results to busted pipes, water damage, property flooding, or growth of molds if left unaddressed. Try to look for damage that is to be repaired by tenants (unhinged doors, broken windows, torn baseboards, etc.) and damage/issues that you are responsible for fixing (leaking roof, clogged outside drains, irregular garbage collection, etc.).
4. To give you clues about your tenants’ behavior
A property inspection can give you clues about how each tenant uses your rental property. God forbid, they are using it for illegal activity. You can discover if your tenants are involved in criminal activity or drug use from the clues you find during your property inspection. Tenants who have problems with hoarding will eventually be obvious over time, their stuff might spill over to common areas which can be a great inconvenience to other neighbors. You can catch these early on with routine inspections.
5. To facilitate landlord-tenant communication
You may be a landlord who lives in or close to your rental property, or you may be a landlord who lives further away and thus, rely on property management company to coordinate your regular rental property inspections. Whatever the case may be, regular rental property inspections open a venue for tenants to communicate their needs to the landlord, and for landlords to reiterate their rules to the tenants. Both can work towards making improvements and ensuring that the rental property is a safe and healthy place to live in.
How to time your rental property inspections
Local laws state that your tenants should be informed at least 24 hours before you conduct a property inspection. You should also let them know the length, purpose, and timing of the visit. Make sure that your tenant or a representative is present when you conduct the inspection, and never enter the premises without informing your tenant. It is up to the landlord to decide the regularity of the visits. Some are diligent and do monthly rental property checks with the help of a property management company, while some landlords are okay with bi-annual inspections. However, often you time it, it is of utmost importance to do regular property inspections to make sure that your rental property does not fall into neglect.
If you are a landlord who manages a lot of other properties or a landlord living further from your rental property, you will need help scheduling and coordinating regular rental property checks. It is best to look for a local property management company who knows the area. Not only can they help you with regular inspections, they can also help you get connected with expert local contractors who can address repairs right away. If you need a local expert who can organize regular rental property inspections as well as help you manage your rental properties, give us a call at Davis Property Management, and we’ll help you with your property management needs.