Property inspections are a useful way to evaluate the state of your property and how well it’s being looked after by tenants. However, arranging visits for inspections as well as mastering the check-in and check-out process for your tenants is no easy feat. We’ve outlined tips and advice for best practice when undertaking inspections.
The check-in process
After you’ve completed your tenant referencing and agreed on a suitable tenancy agreement, it’s time to check-in.
The check-in should include a walkthrough of the property, complete with a comprehensive inventory recording the condition of items remaining in the residence over the course of the tenancy. Completing the inventory will allow you to refer back and make an objective assessment of any damage at the check-out stage.
The completed inventory should be unbiased and of a professional standard. Generally speaking, good inventories include:
- Full names and contact details of both the tenant(s) and the landlord, as well as a date the inventory was conducted
- A comprehensive list of fixtures, fittings and décor as well as their condition. When recording this information, be sure to add any detail such as ‘minor scratches’ so there’s no ambiguity
- Accurate meter readings
- The signatures of the landlord and tenants, agreeing to the inventory. It’s also advisable to initial each page as you go along
- If possible, embed photographs in the document or have them stored on a separate CD
- Ensure your tenants also get their own copy of the signed inventory
Once your tenants have moved in, it’s recommended that you carry out regular inspections. This way, you’ve got the chance to identify and rectify any potential issues before they become severe.
How many inspections you decide to perform is at your discretion, but be sure not to carry them out in excess and know your rights and responsibilities. For example, you’ll have to give your tenants 24 hours’ notice of a visit (unless it’s an emergency) – which they must agree to.
When you visit the property, take a copy of the inventory with you so that you can refer to it, and try to ensure that the tenants are in the property so that you can discuss any points with them there and then.
Talk through any concerns that you may have with your tenants at the time, providing them with a reasonable timeframe in which to make any necessary amends. Hopefully, there won’t be any changes needed but, by visiting during the tenancy, you ensure that any surprises aren’t left until you’re looking for new occupants.
When it comes to checking your tenants out of the property, you should have a good idea about its general condition in light of your inspections.
It’s best to remind your tenants of their roles and responsibilities a couple of weeks prior to their check-out date, as this eliminates any confusion over what must be done before departure.
When you’re conducting the check-out, you should ask the tenants to be present. Ensure you have a copy of the inventory (and any supplementary pictures you took). This way, the current condition of the property can be assessed and compared directly against its current state.
Although you’re not looking to catch the tenants out here, it’s essential to undertake a comprehensive check, focusing on cleanliness, any items that are missing and any items left behind.
Also, keep in mind that over the course of the tenancy, it’s likely that there’ll be a degree of wear and tear within the property, and that ‘fair’ wear and tear will be allowed in the tenancy agreement.
Once you’ve completed your check-out process, all relevant documents should be signed by the tenant and yourself. If you’re happy that everything is in order, then you can begin the process of returning deposits. If not, carefully note changes and dilapidations, taking pictures to support these findings. These can then be used to decide how much of the original deposit will be withheld.
By being this thorough from the start of the tenancy right through to check-out, you should have a mutual understanding with your tenants, where each party is clear on their roles and responsibilities. Following the procedures for best practice, the likelihood of disputes at the end of your tenancy should be reduced.