A rental property inspection is one of the most important steps a landlord, apartment manager, and even the renter can take before a living space is rented. Whether it’s a long-term rental or a short-term vacation rental, these inspections are crucial to ensuring your rental property is safe and well-maintained. They protect both the landlord and the tenant by giving a clear picture of the state of the rental suite. A renters inspection needs to be done correctly, so all parties are protected. There’s a lot to look for, but by taking the time to learn each piece thoroughly, you’ll be protecting yourself in the long run.
A rental property inspection is completed when a new tenant moves in or out of the property. It can be done by the tenant, the renter, both parties, and by trained professionals. A professional is the best option for insurance claims if the property is being sold or if a safety issue has been detected. An inspection for rental property ensures everything is safe and in good working order. The inspection should be documented. If problems are identified, the landlord can address them before they turn into costly issues.
Because these inspections are documented, they can protect both parties from certain liabilities if something goes wrong. Both a landlord and a tenant will sign that the property inspection is “clean,” so if something goes wrong later, the tenant may not be able to sue for damages. The landlord is also protected. If they find the tenant has caused damage to the suite, a well-documented property inspection can help them prove it.
Types of inspections
Types of rental property inspections include:
Move-in inspections: Also known as walkthroughs, move-in inspections occur after a tenant signs a lease but before they move into the property. Most often, both parties go through a rental properties inspection checklist together. Following the list, both parties inspect the condition of the property and appliances. They document any damage and may even take photos or videos to confirm the state of the property before the tenant moves in. This list is signed by both parties, and a copy is provided to the tenant.
Quarterly inspections: Quarterly inspections are seasonal inspections on rental properties. Every few months, a landlord schedules this inspection. The landlord must give the tenant specific notice to inspect the suite per local laws. These quarterly inspections ensure the tenant is adhering to the terms of the lease.
Drive-by inspections: Drive-by inspections can be done by a landlord at any time. They don’t require notice to the tenant, as the landlord is not stepping onto the property to inspect it. If you’re concerned about crimes, the condition of your property, or other specific activity happening at any hour of the day or night, watch the property to see for yourself. You can also speak with neighbors about your concerns.
Move-out inspections: This happens before the tenant moves out of the suite. A move-out inspection gives the landlord a chance to take note of any property damage. The move-in checklist is compared to the move-out inspection, and any damages incurred to the property may be taken out of the renter’s damage deposit.
How to perform a rental property inspection
Keep in mind what you should and should not do regarding rental property inspections.
You should always give your tenants prior notice before entering the rental property and provide them with a reason why. Any inspection should be scheduled when the tenant is home so you discuss any items that need repairing. You should take photos of the property’s interior and exterior to document its condition. Know your local laws regarding inspections and follow them. If you have any concerns, you should make personal notes and present them to your tenant in writing.
You shouldn’t arrive at a tenant’s suite unannounced. An inspection requires adequate notice. If you have a pressing reason to enter a tenant’s rental suite, you’ll need their permission before entering.
When inside a tenant’s suite, you should not take photos of their children, pets, or personal items. Refrain from getting angry at the tenant if you find any damage, and keep the inspection professional. Inform the tenant if certain damage will be paid out of their damage deposit. You also shouldn’t make any promises or provide the tenant with a false sense that potential damage may not come out of their damage deposit.
The ultimate checklist
The following aspects of rental inspections are often overlooked. Add them to your checklists, so you have everything covered.
For vacation rentals, have a checklist for the essentials your renters need. Clean towels, adequate toiletries, and a kitchen that’s stocked with pots, pans, and cooking tools in good working order are all items to check. The bedding, which includes pillowcases, sheets, pillows, and blankets, should be washed.
In a rental property inspection, items that affect the whole building are occasionally overlooked. Ensure the heat works properly (and the AC, if applicable). Also, take the opportunity to inspect the electrical installations to ensure everything is working properly.
It’s good practice to check the safety components in your rental suite. The smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers should be in working order. A first aid kit isn’t mandatory for each suite, but having one in the building is a good idea. Your tenants should have an emergency number they can call after hours.
Beyond the inspection itself, ensure you’re properly insured and legally covered and track your finances adequately. A rental property is an investment, so you’ll want to keep all documentation in proper order. Consult with a financial advisor regarding taxes and profits. A lawyer can ensure you’re adhering to all local laws.
Make sure your property is insured in the event of a fire, flood, or natural disaster. A rental property insurance policy isn’t the same as a homeowner’s insurance policy and should cover some form of liability insurance should your tenant get injured.
Rental property inspections are essential to renting your property. Move-in and move-out inspections track the condition of your home and allow you to hold tenants responsible for any damage they cause. A quarterly inspection can help a landlord catch potentially big issues before they become costly issues. Thorough rental property inspections are a smart way to protect yourself, your investment, and your tenants.