Inspecting a rental property is critical at specific times in the leasing period. Your routine should include a move-in inspection, move-out inspection, and at least once inspection during the tenancy to check for maintenance issues and check-in with your tenant.
When you’re consistent and attentive to these inspections, you can be sure your investment property is in good shape. You also have the opportunity to document its condition, and you’ll know that your tenants are taking good care of the home.
Move-In Inspection and Documentation
The move-in inspection is perhaps the most critical inspection of the entire leasing period. This is your best opportunity to get an accurate and descriptive picture of how your home looked before your tenants took possession. You’ll want to inspect to make sure everything is working and clean. You’ll also want to take a lot of pictures, notes, and even videos to document the condition of the property.
Be as detailed as possible. Take pictures of screens and floors. Include photos of doors, ceilings, and closets. Don’t miss anything, because at the end of the lease term, when you’re deciding whether to deduct money from the security deposit to pay for damage, you’ll need to be able to prove that the problem did not exist when the tenant moved in.
Move-Out Inspection and Comparison
During the move-out inspection, you’ll cover the same ground that you did before the tenant moved in. You’ll take the same pictures and you’ll review the initial condition report. Normal wear and tear is to be expected, and you’ll have to absorb those expenses as part of your turnover costs. Damage is different, however, and good inspection reports will help you identify tenant damage and separate it from normal wear and tear.
If your tenant disputes a charge against their security deposit, you’ll have the documentation to back it up thanks to outstanding move-in and move-out inspections. This will help you settle the dispute and avoid further conflict.
Inspections During a Tenancy
You should walk through the property at least once while it’s occupied. Make sure you tell your tenants about this when they’re signing the lease so they know to expect it. Include it in the lease agreement and give them as much written notice as possible before you inspect.
The purpose of this routine inspection is to check for unreported or deferred maintenance. Sometimes, tenants don’t report small issues that they seem inconsequential. But, you want to take care of these things quickly so they don’t lead to larger and more complex problems.
This is also a good opportunity to look for any lease violations. If you have a no-smoking policy in the lease and you notice ashtrays that are full, address it with your tenants. If the tenant didn’t get approval for pets or pay a pet fee before moving in but there’s a cat running around, you’ll need to talk about it.
Check in with your tenant during this inspection and make sure everything is going well. You want to be responsive to their needs and make this inspection something that benefits them as well.