4 Mastering Property Inspections

Every landlord should make regular property inspections a regular habit. Property inspections allow you to track the condition, health, and value of your properties over time.

Even if your tenants are responsible, rental properties will eventually develop maintenance concerns. By regularly checking in with your units, you can ensure damage is minimal and prevent minor issues from escalating.

Property inspections also encourage tenants to keep their units clean and report maintenance problems promptly. When your tenants see that you care about the condition of your properties enough to inspect them regularly, they will be more motivated to keep their homes in good shape throughout the lease term.

Regular property inspections also set an expectation for how tenants should return your rentals when they eventually move out.

For these reasons, property inspections are a must. Here are a few tips for conducting property inspections in your rentals.

  1. Inspect Every 3-6 Months

For property inspections to be effective, you must conduct them consistently. In general, you should inspect your units every three to six months. More frequently than three months and your tenants might get annoyed at the constant invasions into their private spaces. Less often than six months and you might miss important problems that could have been avoided.

Try to vary your inspections between different seasons so you can inspect damage throughout the year. 

  1. Give 24 Hours’ Notice

By law, you are required to give tenants prior notice before entering their units. The exact amount of time necessary depends on your state and area, but twenty-four hours is a good baseline. 

Whenever possible, it’s best to let tenants know a few days before you plan to enter their living spaces. Clarify the reason for your visit (a regular inspection) and, if you can, the approximate time and duration of the visit. These courtesies go a long way toward demonstrating to tenants that you respect their time and privacy.

Try to schedule inspections for times when your tenants are home. This way, you can ask them about any problems and clarify any next steps regarding maintenance issues that you do find. 

Finally, consider preparing an email reminder to all tenants before you start inspecting units. This message can include a reminder of penalties for breaking lease terms, including cleanliness, pets, or guests. 

If you find violations (more than the designated number of overnight guests, excess trash, etc.), you should enforce accountability by assigning fees. These fees should be laid out in your lease contract and applied to tenants’ rent bills.

With best property management software, you can charge additional fees just as you would a late payment fee. Fees can be charged to tenants’ accounts on the payment portal linked to your property management software.

  1. Observe Privacy

As you conduct inspections, remember to respect tenants’ privacy. You own your properties, but your tenants are living in them. Don’t take pictures of tenants’ possessions or pets while documenting damages and be mindful of respecting all matters concerning privacy.

  1. Include a Right-to-Entry Clause in the Lease

Finally, be sure to include a right-to-entry clause in your lease so you can conduct property inspections. Remind tenants that you are legally permitted to enter their units at any time as long as you give proper notice.

This practice not only lets tenants know to expect regular inspections, but also assures them that you know the laws surrounding property inspections and will honor them. Tenants who trust you to follow the laws surrounding inspections are more likely to cooperate during the inspection and won’t hesitate to show you problems or hide them from you.

Mastering Property Inspections

Done right, property inspections can be noninvasive and cause no inconveniences for you or your tenants. Inspections are the best way to keep track of the health of your rental properties and enforce lease agreements. By keeping your policies and practices consistent, respectful, and legal, you can make inspections a regular and successful occurrence in your rental business.

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