Who needs property inspections? While it’s tempting to think that your tenants will treat your properties the way that you would treat them, the fact is that every family is different. By conducting regular property inspections, you ensure that your tenants and your property are meeting your expectations. If you can’t inspect your property yourself, you’ll need to ensure that you have someone you trust who can examine your property regularly and thoroughly.
1. Property Inspections Make Sure Tenants Are Following the Rules
When you enter into an agreement with a tenant, you set out certain expectations. You might want to ensure that your tenants make less noise during the evening in a family neighborhood or that your tenants take care of certain aspects of yard maintenance, such as lawn mowing. While you strive to find the most reliable renters, even the best tenants can become busy or careless. Knowing that you’ll be arriving for an inspection can give your renters an incentive to keep the property in good shape.
2. Inspections Ensure That You Meet Tenants’ Needs
On the other side of the rental equation, you also need to ensure that you are living up to your tenants’ expectations. Inspections can remind your renters to ask questions about a small leak that happened several months ago, and inspections can also help you find problems that tenants may not be aware of themselves. For example, if you’re working with Seattle rentals, rotten decks, fences, and stairways are common in this rainy city. They could cause injury if they’re not discovered and addressed.
3. Inspections Can Prevent Serious Cumulative Problems
Some problems with your properties emerge over time, and a skilled inspector can see those problems before they become severe. For example, in the rainy Seattle winter, a leak may begin in one of your Seattle rentals. That leak could be almost invisible to tenants, but it could cause mold growth behind the walls. If left unnoticed, even a small leak can result in extensive damage. When you’re doing inspections, the Bigger Pockets blog recommends that you look for “issues which the tenant has caused, such as pulling a door off its hinges, and those items you are responsible for, such as a leaking faucet.” Consistent inspections can help ensure that you will find problems early, before they cause serious damage that can be costly to repair.
4. Inspections Can Give You Clues About Tenants’ Behavior
Inspections can reveal signs of a serious problem with your tenants’ behavior. For example, if a renter has a problem with hoarding, this might not be immediately obvious from the outside of the building, but it could become very obvious over time. Hoarding could result in damage to the interior of the building as adequate cleaning may not be possible and problems with insects or rodents can develop. An inspection could also reveal trouble with drugs or criminal activity. It’s better for the neighborhood (and in some cases, even for the protection of the property itself) if you discover these problems early on.
5. Inspections Facilitate Communication
Some people live close to their rental properties and go by them almost every day. Others live farther away or rely on a rental property management company to organize inspections. Consistent inspections keep communication open and keep your properties looking good. When you or your management company are clear and consistent about expectations, it’s more likely that you’ll catch and prevent problems from occurring.
The Timing of Property Inspections
When you’re conducting inspections, you need to abide by local laws. Your tenants deserve to have at least 24 hours’ notice, and the length, purpose, and timing of the visit should be reasonable.
Inspections should not only be regular, they should be consistent in what they look for and in-depth enough to catch problems before they become serious. How often should you inspect your properties? According to Landlord Talking, “while law enforcement agencies have encouraged inspections as often as every six or eight weeks, many landlords are more comfortable with a schedule of every three to six months.” Be consistent with your schedule so that your tenants know what to expect.
When you’re looking for support with the inspections of your Seattle rentals, contact Lori Gill and Associates. We know the Seattle rental business, and we understand local maintenance and tenant issues. When you need consistent and well-documented property inspections, talk to us about your property management needs.