For landlords, a rental property inspection is a necessary evil; no one really likes having to carry them out and tenants are not always keen to have a stranger wandering around their home. However, property inspections are vital to both parties: they help landlords to protect the value of their investment and they provide peace of mind to tenants by ensuring the property is safe for habitation.
So for both landlords and tenants, the rental property inspection isn’t something to worry about – it’s something that should be embraced. However, it’s important that both parties understand what is involved in a rental property inspection and what responsibilities each party has to the other. We created this guide to show both landlords and tenants the property inspection process, in order to remove any mystery surrounding it.
So what exactly is a rental property inspection? Its primary purpose is to evaluate the condition of the property both inside and out. The person carrying out the inspection will check the general condition of the property, including making sure everything is in good working order, the general condition of any furniture that was supplied and ensuring things like plumbing and electrics are in good working order.
The secondary purpose of an inspection is to make sure tenants are behaving themselves. This is not just a case of ensuring they are keeping the place clean and tidy, it also ensures that the property isn’t being used for criminal purposes. Landlords don’t want to find their tenants are growing cannabis plants in the back bedroom for example.
How is a rental property inspection different from a pre purchase inspection?
Rental inspections differ from pre purchase inspection in that the inspector will not be looking for any potential planning issues with the property. Typically the inspector will be more concerned with safety aspects such as ensuring smoke alarms and CO2 meters are working correctly, along with the general state of the property and its services.
The property inspector will check the following key areas:
Upon arrival, the inspector will carry out a quick appraisal of the general condition of the property. Specifically, they will check the condition of; paintwork, both inside and outside, the condition of windows, are there any cracks, ensure doors are in good working order and secured properly and internal and external walls for cracks (which may require further examination).
While moving around the property the inspector will also assess the tenants living conditions. The state a tenant lives in may give clues as to their ability to look after the property. Generally, landlords want tenants who keep the place tidy, since they are more likely to look after the property. While tenants can’t be evicted just because they are untidy, landlords may want to think twice before renewing the rental agreement for such tenants.
While the inspector is not allowed to search through a tenants personal belongings they can check to make sure no illegal activity is being carried out on the premises. In most circumstances this easy to spot, such as cannabis plants in the kitchen or a stash of stolen goods in the bedroom.
Most tenants won’t mention the presence of mould in their home because they are not aware how serious and dangerous it can be. If mould or damp is spotted, the inspector will most likely try to establish the cause of the problem and then arrange for it to be fixed.
Leaks and blockages are a leading cause of damp and mould so these are one of the most important areas to check. The plumbing should be checked for leaks, that means running taps and checking under the kitchen sink and bath for running water. And outside guttering and drains should be checked for blockages.
The condition of any fixtures and fittings that were supplied with the property will also be checked. This includes basic items such as light fittings along with any kitchen appliances that were supplied as part of the tenancy agreement, including; washing machines and dishwashers.
If the property has a garden this will be checked to make sure it is being properly cared for. Grass should be cut regularly, hedges should be trimmed and plants watered and rubbish cleared. Gardens are one area which tenants can overlook, in some cases, they may not even be aware they are responsible for its upkeep.
Smoke alarms and CO2 detectors should be checked on every inspection to make sure they are working properly. CO2 detectors can be tested by holding down the test button. Smoke detectors should be tested by pressing the test button and by using matches to check the sensor is working. Both units should be replaced once they are more than 10 years old.
If the property has a loft this will be inspected to ensure the roof is in good condition and free from leaks. It also ensures no illegal activity is taking place, the loft is an ideal place to store stolen goods or for growing plants which require a constant light source.
Regular property inspections can help landlords and property management companies, manage their rental inventory by helping them keep control of costs and identifying areas for concern before they become major issues. They also ensure your property portfolio is being properly cared for, helping to protect the value of your investment while helping establish which party is responsible for the cost of repairs.
Know what you own, and know why you own it.
Peter Lynch, Property Investor
The cost will depend on the size of the property and the amount of time the inspector has to spend there. You can find our latest pricing information here.
This will depend on the size of the property and its location. Generally speaking, it should take no more than 60 minutes for a small house or flat, 90 minutes for a medium size house and up to two hours for a large detached house with separate garage. If serious issues are found the inspector may take longer to establish the exact cause of the problem.
The landlord is legally responsible for the general safety of the building and to ensure the property is fit to live in. The landlord is responsible for checking the following:
Ensuring the external structure of the property is free from structural defects and covering the cost of repairs to the structure if necessary
Making sure all basins, baths, toilets and other bathroom fittings are working correctly
Checking the hot water and heating systems are working properly
Ensuring all gas appliances, pipes and flues are checked regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer and any defects fixed immediately
Ensuring all electrical wiring is safe and electrical appliances supplied as part of the lease are checked for defects
Rectifying any damage that is caused by tradesmen attempting repairs
Ensuring the property is protected by smoke and CO2 meters and that these devices are working correctly
A landlord can charge you for a property inspection, but only if they told you about it when you signed the rental agreement. Check your rental agreement to see if an end of tenancy inspection fee will be charged and how much the cost will be.
The Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 stipulates that landlords must provide at least 24 hours notice before entering the property. In most cases your landlord or letting agent will give you at least seven days notice prior to inspection, giving you plenty of time to clean the place up.
Tenants do not have to let anyone into their property, even if an appointment has been arranged with the landlord or letting agent. However, it should be noted that a cancellation fee may be charged if admittance is denied and the landlord can claim for any costs they have incurred. It is always best to keep a cordial relationship with your landlord to prevent disputes like this from occurring.
Regular rental property inspections are important if landlords and property management companies are to operate profitably. They can identify problems with both tenants and properties before they become a major issue, helping to reduce maintenance costs and expensive court cases. But it is also important to recognise that your tenant has a right to live in ‘quiet enjoyment’ without being bombarded with unnecessary access requests.
To be successful in real estate, you must always and consistently put your clients’ best interests first.
Anthony Hitt, CEO Engel & Völkers
Most tenants are happy to accommodate rental property inspections if they are treated with respect and courtesy. So give them as much notice as possible before an inspection and don’t assume you have a right to enter the property any time you wish. Arrange an inspection time that is convenient for both parties and you’ll find your property inspections become less stressful and even help build a long-term relationship with your tenant.