Most landlords struggle to find balance in the way they approach the management of their rental property. Pro X Property Management says owners often seek that intermediate point between managing too much and managing too little.
Landlords who manage too much tend to be overly involved. On the other hand, if the property owner manages too little they will allow their tenants too much freedom.
The first approach leads to unhappy tenants who think the owner is violating their personal rights. When landlords manage too much, their relationship with tenants will be difficult.
And even if a home is well looked after, the tenants will still leave if they think they are not being respected. Such homes will have a high tenant turnover as the landlord loses tenants.
But landlords who use the second method find that tenants become irresponsible and damage to the property is frequent. The owner will struggle with high operating costs.
Additionally, they will have high vacancy rates because tenants will eventually leave if a rental is not looked after. Landlords who undermanage lose their property and their tenants.
Both outcomes are undesirable, and every landlord wants to avoid them. What can landlords do to keep their eyes and ears on their property, without micromanaging tenants or infringing on their rights? The best way is for landlords to have periodic property inspections.
This method creates both distance and the right level of involvement for the owner.
What is a periodic property inspection?
A periodic property inspection is an arrangement between landlords and tenants that recognizes the owner’s right to ensure that their property is being maintained to an acceptable standard, while also recognizing the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the rental home.
By this agreement, the landlord is allowed access to the property at certain times, so that he or she can conduct a thorough assessment of the home’s condition.
Typically, the first inspection takes place within 6 weeks after the tenant has taken possession of the home and every 3-6 months thereafter. The inspections allow the property owner to determine how the tenant is looking after the interior and exterior of their property.
Periodic inspections let landlords detect and deal with maintenance issues before they become full-blown problems that can damage the property. It also helps landlords identify problem tenants.
What to do or not do during periodic property inspections
Periodic inspections are good for a landlord’s business, but property owners do have to follow some guidelines when conducting an inspection to avoid souring their relationship with tenants.
Inspecting an occupied rental home means the owner will be entering the tenant’s private space. There will be lots of opportunities for things to go wrong.
The following rules will help landlords avoid problems during their periodic property inspections.
- Landlords must give tenants a legitimate reason for the inspections. Preferably, this must be discussed before the lease commences and the periods for the inspection are agreed on. Periodic inspections must be included in the lease agreement.
- Landlords must give tenants prior notice of the inspection. Regardless of the fact that a tenant has agreed to periodic inspections of the home, the owner must still notify and remind the tenant of impending inspections.
- Landlords must avoid taking photos of the tenant’s personal items. During the inspection, it is customary to note maintenance issues and take photos of them for the owner’s records. While doing this, landlords should be careful not to photograph tenants’ personal belongings.
- Landlords must avoid arguments and confrontations. Generally, tenants will be uneasy about a landlord entering their home and this often leads them to be irritable. The landlord should avoid any altercations with the tenant.
Benefits of periodic property inspections
What are the tangible benefits of conducting periodic property inspections? Why should landlords go through the trouble?
Makes tenants more responsible
If tenants know that the landlord will inspect the property, they are motivated to take better care of the home. This protects the owner’s investment and minimizes move-out damage, which reduces the owner’s overall costs.
Facilitates preventative maintenance
Periodic inspections help landlords catch problems early so that instead of repairing damage, they are preventing them. The inspection allows landlords to detect early signs of trouble that the tenant may have missed.
Reduces landlord liability
Many times when a tenant is injured in a rental property, it is due to maintenance problems that could have been prevented. Periodic inspections will let the landlord find and solve such problems, minimizing their exposure to lawsuits.
Shortens vacancy periods
Periodic inspections ensure that there will be no major repairs after a tenant moves out. This makes it possible for the landlord to clean up the home and have it rent-ready in the shortest time.
In conclusion, periodic inspections help to reduce landlords’ anxiety over their rental properties, while giving tenants the space to enjoy their homes. It is one of the most important rental property management strategies landlords must have.