You are paying the property management company to be your eyes and ears involving all things related to your property. For this reason, one of the foremost things property management companies should be doing is holding consistent inspections. Many inexperienced property owners are unaware of how damaging a lousy tenant can be in even a short period of time. There is an assumption that as long as the rent is being paid on time and there are no complaints, that everything is going well.
It is important to not take on time payments as a sign of good behavior, and do your due diligence when it comes to keeping your property in pristine condition. Be sure to make your expectations clear to your property manager in order to avoid any confusion. Having regularly scheduled inspections is a reliable way to catch problems quickly, prevent poor tenant behavior, and most importantly save money on repairs that could prove costly without said inspections.
Even though it is common that tenants perform property inspections themselves, the manager should perform a detailed inspection that includes photos for evidence later on. It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to these things. The tenant should be beside the manager for a walkthrough and sign off on the inspection report as well. This initial documentation is a life-saver when it comes to resolving any disputes over what damage took place when during the tenant’s period of residency.
Frequency of Inspections
At the very least, property inspections should be held annually with quality property managers performing them around every six months. The person conducting it should have a checklist that they review. This checklist should include some if not all of the following depending on the property: items related to appliances, A/C filters, water heater, locks, electrical wiring, smoke detectors, and plumbing.
Do not accept a property management company that only performs inspections in between vacancies. Tenancies can last for many years and there is no excuse for not performing necessary inspections on an annual basis, as previously discussed. Many states have laws requiring property managers to give their tenants 1-2 days notice in advance of any property inspection.
End of Lease Inspections
The end of lease inspection is essential to all property managers. Property management companies should be able to provide property owners with a copy of their inspection form at the end of the previous lease, and compare it to the inspection they provide at move-in. Photographic evidence is necessary to corroborate any damages that may have occurred during the tenants period of stay on the property. Once a damage assessment has been made, that amount should be deducted from the balance they will receive from their deposit refund.
These inspections are imperative to protect both the property owner and the property management company. The general rule of thumb is, the more specific the inspection, the better off the management company and the property owner will be. Having clear inspection lists looks more professional. It will also cause fewer issues from tenants since it will be transparent what condition the unit was in upon move in and how that changed at all during the tenants’ stay. Be sure to invest in a property management company that views clear and efficient inspections as a priority, and it will correspondingly lessen the amount of vacancies you will experience.