Rental Property Inspection a smart way to protect your investment!
By Tracy Wallbank
To become a successful landlord you will need to become good at managing your properties, particularly if you self manage your properties as this is your business. You will need to make key decisions which will have an effect on your properties and/or your income. You will need to put good systems in place and keep good records in order to assist and ensure your business runs smoothly. There are different areas to manage and to be aware of, for example you will need to have good management skills and systems for the financial side, the upkeep of your properties and understanding and keeping up to date with the law and regulations. One of the skills you need to be good at, be aware of and know about is how to manage risk and potential gain or loss. This plays a big part in the building and maintenance of your property portfolio whether it is managing the risk when you decide to make an investment and make a purchase, or whether it is if and when you decide to sell a property, or it could be during the course of ownership and looking after your houses and tenants.
To manage your properties well, regular rental property inspections are very important, as you cannot rely on your tenants reporting all problems to you in a timely manner and sometimes this can make a small problem turn into a bigger and more costly problem to solve. With regular inspections you need be able to spot if there appears to be anything different or anything looks odd. You will need to keep a good look out to see if there are any signs of any underlying leaks or damp patches which could leave to growth of mould. You need to make sure that there are no damage to the home ie broken glass, windows, doors, cupboards etc, that the decoration is all in good order no repairs or decoration has been undertaken or marks, that the carpets have no stains, or cigarette or iron burns and that the home is warm and aired and being generally cared for. Following these inspections, it is always a good idea to have them written up and recorded as well as taking any prompt action against any defect you may become aware of. You may need to discuss any issues with the tenants and it is always a good idea to follow any key discussion up with a letter setting out the points clearly with any action that either you or they are going to need to make by any deadline. The length of time between inspections can be dependent upon you, however you will want to ensure you do an inspection early on in the tenancy ie two months in to make sure that they are being good tenants.
If the tenancy agreement is for only six months, you may want to do another inspection in month 4 or 5 and so on. When the tenants give notice you will want to carry out a rental property inspection soon after receiving notice. This is to get a good idea of how the property is looking, what work may need to be done once they move out to ensure you have a nicely presented home to market to a new tenant and also to see if there are any areas that will need to be dealt with and repaired or replaced by the tenant. If so, by doing this rental property inspection early it gives them notice of what you expect from them during this time and how they need to hand the property back. You will also then need to do another inspection at the time of handing the property back, taking the meter readings and getting the keys back. It is important that if your tenants renew their contract or goes on to a periodic tenancy agreement, then it is still important that you continue to do regular inspections. It is very important especially if the tenants stay for a long time that you do not become less complacent as you know that they are being good tenants and are looking after the property. However, tenants situations can change which could have an affect on the way they look after the property and also you need to check that there are no underlying problems which you will want to be aware of in the upkeep and maintenance of your portfolio.
By setting up good management systems will give you a good handle on what it is going on with your portfolio and what you may need to plan for as well as dealing with anything before it gets too big. There is also an option to use management agents who will need to carry out and deal with the inspections which can also be a good idea particularly if you are short of time.