Landlord inspections are an option some landlords use to maintain their rental properties. This guide will provide an overview of how to conduct a thorough and effective landlord inspection to ensure that a property is well-maintained, being used legally and safe for tenants to live in.
What are the reasons for doing a rental house inspection?
Rental house inspections or landlord inspections should be carried out in order to make sure that a tenant is using the property correctly.
This can also be a great opportunity to pick up on any property damage early on in the tenancy before they get worse. The best tenants will do their best to take care of a property but even they may not know the details about what kind of damage to look out for and how to spot damage to avoid long term issues.
This damage may include damp or mould, leaks that may occur in piping or overgrown areas of outdoor space.
Checklist for a landlord rental house inspection
A landlord inspection checklist should be done at the start of a tenancy to take note of all the damage and defects, as well as the condition and number of items of furniture and appliances are in the premises. If you would like to learn more about how this works, read our article on property viewing checklists to guide you through the process.
As a landlord visits the property periodically they may refer to this checklist to see if anything has gone wrong. In a landlord inspection that occurs typically halfway through a fixed term in a tenancy, a landlord may notice that furniture is missing, damaged or appliances are faulty or broken.
Whether this is a result of the tenant being irresponsible or not can be determined later but at least this gives a landlord a head start on replacing the furniture or knowing if they need to take some money out of a tenant’s security deposit.
What are periodic property inspections?
Periodic property inspections usually refer to tests that electricians do on a property as well as general landlord inspections, there are also good reasons to do safety checks and inspections that are planned in advance outside of the mandatory EICR checks that may occur every 5 years.
This is known as a periodic inspection report where an electrician will visit a landlord’s property and produce a report that has slightly less data than a full EICR check. But is still sufficient to give a landlord the peace of mind their electrical equipment isn’t overloaded and there are no hazards.
What is included in a periodic property inspection report?
Common features of a periodic inspection report include the personal details of the landlord, the purpose of the report i.e. if there was an incident in the property that warranted an electrician to come round, the address of the property as well as the declaration and details of the electrician.
The most important part of the report includes if there is any limitation of the property and what the results of the landlord inspection and testing were. If there were any repairs that are deemed unsafe it would be recommended that a landlord makes changes as soon as possible.
Why are regular property inspections important?
Regular property inspections are vital not only for the landlord who can save money on expensive repairs if they become worse over time but also for the safety of tenants. Just because a property doesn’t have to be checked until a later date legally, doesn’t mean the property is fit for habitation.
As a result, landlords who tend to care the most about tenant’s safety and keeping a habitable home will conduct regular property inspections. This prevents a landlord from being reactive to problems such as responding to tenant complaints and instead taking matters into their own hands and preventing problems from occurring in the first place.
How often should a periodic property occur?
Most landlords will conduct periodic inspections every three to six months. Commonly, a landlord will conduct a periodic inspection halfway through a fixed term in a tenancy. This is more important for new tenancies as the landlord may be sceptical of how new tenants will treat the property and see if there are any issues to fix while the tenant gets settled in.
What should be looked out for in a landlord inspection?
Landlord inspections involve a range of issues and an experienced landlord knows to look out for a range of things. This list tells you what they are and the signs a landlord should be observing during their landlord inspection to give them the best clues as to what is going on in their property.
Conducting inspections for legal compliance
Common reasons for a property not being used correctly include illegal activity such as marijuana farming or subletting in the property that goes far above the recommended room sizes for a human to live comfortably in. Also, any kind of money laundering or any address that is used as a commercial property rather than a residential one must be checked out.
Whenever someone conducts landlord inspections they should look out for warning signs of this that do not indicate a normal residential tenancy.
Ensuring gas safety
Gas safety has to be done every year because a broken boiler or gas leaks can be extremely dangerous to tenants. If a gas leak occurs during sleep, it can be hard to smell and this may result in dizziness, feeling light-headed, irritation to the eyes and throat and in the worst cases may lead you to lose consciousness.
On top of this, maintaining good boiler standards is good for tenants as if there is a broken boiler it can be detrimental for tenants and potentially even cause a safety hazard where there are many vulnerable tenants in the property. Especially in the winter months.
As a result, on top of landlord inspections, it is a good idea to have landlord boiler cover and general contents insurance that protects these features of a property.
Maintaining fire safety
A tenant should be made clear that furniture should be fire safe, a tenant could bring back new equipment that isn’t safe and is potentially faulty. Or appliances bought by the landlord could also break down.
To avoid this, it would be wise for landlords to ask tenants to report any issues with appliances straight away and only invest in equipment if absolutely necessary or ask the landlord to buy it.
Checking electrical safety
Electrical safety checks have to be done every 5 years. However, periodic property inspections are quite common, especially when it comes to electrical equipment. In the same way that an electrical installation condition report (EICR) checks equipment is safe, efficient and reliable, periodic property inspections do the same.
Monitoring tenants who sublet
Subletting is an issue for landlords who do not want to be responsible for any human rights issues in their property. It can be hard to regulate which is why a lot of landlords ban subletting in the first place.
When a landlord visits during a landlord inspection they would have to give a 24-hours notice period for tenants so it may be the case that they have already left the property and tenants have removed any evidence that there was a subletter.
This means landlords have to be very diligent and observant when they do visit the property. Signs that should be looked out for are bedroom equipment in areas of shared living space or too many toothbrushes, towels and bathroom equipment for the number of tenants in the property.
It would also be a good idea to check the bins in the property to see if there is too much waste being produced for the number of tenants and the landlord may also get a good idea of the property’s use by monitoring utility bills. Higher bills could indicate more people are living in the property than there should be.
How can property inventories help a tenant?
Property Inventories are mainly there to prevent disputes after landlord inspections between tenants and landlords if there is a debate over whether damages is the fault of the current or previous tenants before they moved in.
As well as this, if a property inventory has been taken and a tenant knows this, they will know that there is little they can do about it by blaming any damage on previous tenants and there is a good chance they will lose their security deposit.
This makes a tenant want to take better care of a property as they will be held financially responsible for changes that occur during their tenancy that are detrimental for the landlord.
To wrap things up, landlord inspections can be a difficult issue for both tenants and landlords. While they are a necessary part of maintaining the integrity of a rental property, they can also be intrusive if not done correctly.
It is important for both parties to communicate openly and honestly, and for landlords to respect their tenants’ privacy by issuing a valid landlord inspection notice so the experience is positive overall.