The Importance of Regular Inspections

By Josh Kattenberg

A property owner bolts awake at two in the morning in a cold sweat—images of his rental, dirty, damaged, and trashed, fresh in his mind. The lost revenue, the cost of cleanup, the headache of trying to get the tenant to pay for the damage all crowd out any hope of a good night’s sleep. Does this sound familiar?  Is there any solution to sleepless nights as a rental property owner?

Regular walk-through inspections can eliminate not only the worry of owning rentals property, but also the actual damage caused by a neglectful tenant. The inspection is not the same thing as the inspection done by a trained and licensed home inspector completed before the purchase of real estate. Instead, a walk-through quickly examines the inside and outside of the property to determine if the tenant is abiding by the terms of the lease and to catch any maintenance items early.

Things to look for during the walk-through:

General cleanliness of the property
Smells that do not fit with a clean property
Unauthorized pets
Unauthorized smoking
Unauthorized modifications to the property
Make sure all smoke alarms are functional
Damages in walls or doors covered up by posters
Dripping faucets or running toilets that raise the water bill
Exterior doors that do not seal causing high heat and A/C bills

Putting “eyes” inside the property on a regular basis helps property managers and landlords accomplish three important things:
1) Problem tenants are identified early and the appropriate notices are sent in order document non-compliance in case an eviction becomes necessary.
2) Tenants understand that the property manager is serious about maintaining the property and expects the tenant to do the same.
3) Regular walk-throughs are a great way to identify maintenance items that need to be repaired. Unaddressed maintenance is one of the largest reasons for losing good tenants.

Walk-through cautions:
1) remember to give the tenant at least a 24 hour notice of the walkthrough. Without giving proper notice you could be trespassing. Be courteous and respectful—this is the tenants home. Make sure to ask the tenant if there is anything that needs to be repaired. This helps put the tenant at ease that you have their best interest in mind and want to make sure their home remains in good repair.
2) The walk-through should not take much time. You are trying to spot obvious areas of concern, not find the one plugin that does not work.
3) Be mindful of pets in the property.