Thorough, carefully documented rental inspections are crucial for landlords who want to ensure proper care and maintenance of their rental properties. We’ll outline the inspection processes and provide a rental inspection checklist for landlords.
If you own a rental property, it’s crucial that you understand the need for rental inspections at each stage of your unit’s rental. Inspection types come in various forms, and each one can help you carefully assess your property to ensure that it’s safe and well maintained.
Your rental properties are investments, but like any investment, they can deliver a positive or negative return. The better you maintain your property, the more likely you can expect a good return on your investment and support your rental unit’s property value.
We’ll outline the types of inspections you should prioritize if you intend to rent your property, as well as provide a rental inspection checklist for landlords.
What are property inspections, and why do you need them?
Property inspections are careful and typically formal property assessments carried out by landlords, tenants, and sometimes professionals like insurance claims specialists or service contractors such as electricians or plumbing technicians. Inspections are necessary because they provide a record of the property’s condition when they’re performed.
During inspections, landlords should ensure that their property is safe and in good repair. If problems are uncovered involving the property’s essential systems, structure, or cosmetic appearance, the property owner can address them.
Inspections protect not only property owners but also tenants. Knowing precisely when and how to perform inspections can make for a more streamlined rental experience for all parties involved. Without formal inspections, the risk for liabilities increases.
Types of rental property inspections
Property owners should be familiar with each type of property inspection if they intend to rent to tenants. These inspections can serve as a safeguard for landlords in the event of an accident on the property. When conducting formal landlord inspections, always include written documentation (ideally, signed by both parties) and time-stamped photographs.
Move-in property inspection
Sometimes called the “walkthrough,” a move-in inspection should occur before the tenant moves into the rental property. This allows both parties to evaluate and verify the condition of the property’s features like flooring, appliances, plumbing, etc.
If any problems are uncovered, such as a carpeting stain, take a picture. New tenants should not be held responsible for any issues found during the move-in inspection. Landlords can make arrangements to remedy any problems before or soon after the renters move in.
Rental Inspection Checklist for Landlords
Of course, any rental inspection checklist for landlords will need to modified to accommodate every unit or property, as it presents its own unique features that might need to be inspected.
- Door(s) and door hardware
- Lighting fixtures
- Window coverings
- Window locks/screens
- Smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector
- Window coverings
- Fire extinguisher
- Sinks and plumbing
- Plumbing (tub, sink, toilet)
- Walls and ceiling
- Counters / surfaces
- Walls and ceiling
- Air conditioning
- Patio or terrace
Be sure to include any other special features that may be included with the rental, such as individual storage spaces or garages.
Not all property managers perform quarterly inspections, but landlords can arrange them as a way to ensure that the tenant is abiding by the terms of the lease and the property is being cared for as agreed upon. It’s best to inform tenants as soon as they decide to rent so that you may perform quarterly inspections by appointment.
Once your tenant moves out of the rental property, it’s essential to conduct a thorough inspection. This allows the property owner to note any damages that occurred to the property. Landlords should use their move-in inspection to compare their lists.
In some cases, property damage may already have been present when the tenants moved in. The move-out inspection provides a basis for any charges that the landlord wants to assign to departing tenants, such as broken cabinetry, stained carpets, or other types of damage.
These damages are usually deducted from the tenants’ security deposit. Landlords must notify tenants of these charges within a specific time frame (depending on local renting laws). They can then return what’s left of the deposit to tenants.
If the damages exceed the security deposit, landlords can send an invoice to departing tenants. If tenants refuse to pay, property owners have the option to take them to court. These situations aren’t pleasant but are sometimes an inevitable part of renting. These situations are also why proper inspections and documentation are integral to property rentals.
- Read more: Move In/Move Out Inspections
Periodically, property owners may choose to drive by and inspect the exterior of their properties. This also allows them to assess whether other contractors like landscapers or snow removal operators fulfill their responsibilities.
Inspections may seem tedious, but they are crucial for protecting property owners and their properties. Good tenants also understand that inspections protect them too.
Use this guide and the rental inspection checklist for landlords to inspect your rental units before and after all rentals routinely. Skipping them can leave you open to serious liabilities. Also, be sure you understand all rental laws concerning inspections and your obligations to tenants.
Guest post by Tamara Segal