As a property manager, one of the first things you learn in the business is that, although most renters are decent folks, you cannot trust tenants to take care of your rentals the same way that you would.
It’s human nature to care more about our own things than what belongs to others.
As Nelson Property Management in Troy advises, if you want to keep your rental units in the best condition and minimize the risk of disputes with tenants, you must find a way to keep an eye on your occupied properties.
In most cases, this means devising a means to inspect the rentals periodically during your tenant’s lease.
Inspecting a rental property, even when there is a tenant in it, will help you in the following ways:
- It gives you a chance to catch problems before they become major issues. You cannot always rely on tenants to recognize the often subtle signs of impending damage to the rental property.
- Inspections offer a chance to see how your tenant is handling the property. Tenants are more likely to abide by the terms of the lease if they know there will be inspections. You can use those times to educate tenants on the best ways to manage the home.
- Lastly, inspections help you avoid conflicts with your tenants. By inspecting the home and giving your tenants positive feedback, you not only protect your own interests but also show your tenants that you are invested in their happiness.
But here is the trouble. How do you conduct inspections without getting on the wrong side of tenants?
Tenants feel that their privacy is violated when the property manager enters their rented home to inspect it. They see this as a contradiction to their right to the quiet enjoyment of the home.
A lot depends on how you conduct your inspections. If you want to avoid problems with your tenants over your right to inspect the property and their right not to feel harassed in their homes, there are rules you should follow.
Below are the guidelines for how often you should inspect an occupied rental property.
Guidelines for inspecting your rental property
Tenants understand that the rental home does not belong to them and, that even though they are paying to live on the property, the manager still has a right to access the home. Most tenants will cooperate with you if inspections are arranged in line with the following rules.
1. Include it in the lease
Include inspections in the lease. From the onset, make it clear to your tenants that you will need to conduct periodic inspections. Let them know the reason for those inspections and that their cooperation will be needed to make the process smooth and painless for both parties.
2. Always give tenants adequate notice
Be aware that your tenants have a right to deny you entry into the home if you have not given them adequate notice. On the other hand, tenants cannot deny a property manager access to a rental if the manager has followed the established rules for notifying the tenant.
Make sure the lease explicitly states when inspections will be done. Send the tenants a written notice at least two weeks before and send reminders days before the actual inspection day.
3. Create an inspection schedule
Here are the times when you should inspect the rental:
– During tenant move-in
The move-in inspection is to establish a baseline of the condition of the rental before it was handed over to the tenant. It is important for avoiding disputes when the lease ends.
For the avoidance of doubt, the inspection should be conducted in the presence of the tenant, who is expected to sign off on the inspection report. The report must contain photo and video evidence of the current condition of the home.
– During tenant move-out
Move-out inspections are done to compare the state of the rental at the end of the lease against its original condition when the tenant moved in. It helps to identify any damage the tenant has done to the home.
Note that if you have given your tenant a move-out notice, you are allowed to show the home to potential renters, even while the tenant occupies the home.
– Quarterly inspections
These inspections are important for making sure that your tenant is keeping to the terms of the lease. Quarterly inspections are scheduled to coincide with your seasonal maintenance for the rental.
Since you will have to enter the home at the start of every new season to get it ready for the coming weather changes, you should also take this time to inspect the home.
– Drive-by inspections
You can do as many drive-by inspections as you want since these types of inspections are completely non-intrusive. As the name suggests, you do not have to enter the home to conduct a drive-by inspection.
You simply view the property from the outside while driving, walking, or cycling past. Drive-by inspections let you spot anything amiss with the property, such as an authorized pet or resident.