Between juggling tenant schedules, meticulously documenting every detail, and navigating potential conflicts, rental inspections can feel like a logistical nightmare.
However, regular inspections are crucial for protecting your or your client’s investment, ensuring tenant safety, and maintaining property value. They also foster trust and communication, solidifying a positive rental experience for all.
But this doesn’t mean you have to surround yourself with a plethora of checklists and reports of every property. A digital property inspection app like GoAudits can help you effortlessly capture data, take photos, and generate professional reports with a few clicks.
In this article, we will review rental inspection types, the steps to perform a rental inspection, and how a digital auditing tool can be a game changer for property management companies.
What is a Rental Inspection?
A landlord or a property manager performs a rental property inspection for a residential investment home. Also known as tenancy or landlord inspection, it is usually conducted in the presence of tenants. The purpose of such a property inspection is to assess the condition of the house throughout the rental cycle.
In most cases, the landlords or the property managers perform rental inspections when tenants move in or out. However, you should leverage your legal right to inspect your property whenever you want. It ensures ongoing damages are taken care of and motivates tenants to take good care of the house.
What Should Landlords Look For During Tenancy Inspections?
As a landlord or a property manager, your primary responsibility should be to look for damages and defects early on. This will help you fix the damage without burning a hole in your pocket. For instance, you can deduct the repair amount from the security deposit if you find damage after the tenant has just moved out.
Here are some essential items you must check during a home inspection for a rental property:
- Walls and Ceilings: The presence of cracks, holes, water damage, excessive grease, or peeling paint might indicate potential maintenance issues or neglect.
- Floors: They should be clean and free from excessive wear and tear, stains, or damage. Excessive wear may require repair or replacement.
- Plumbing: For proper sanitation and to prevent water damage, look for plumbing defects. These may include leaks, drips, or clogged drains under sinks, tubs, or toilets.
- Electrical System: To prevent fire risks, look for exposed wirings, overloaded outlets, or flickering lights.
- Doors and Windows: This prevents unauthorized entry and strengthens tenant safety. Ensure they function properly and lock securely and there are no broken glass or damaged frames.
- Smoke Detectors: Check if the smoke detectors are present, properly installed, and in working condition.
- Lighting: Check for adequate lighting in all areas and if there are any faulty fixtures or exposed wiring. This provides visibility and prevents tripping hazards.
- Outdoor Areas: Check if fences, gates, and other outdoor amenities are functional.
- Compliance With Rental Agreement: This includes inspecting unauthorized modifications, adherence to pet policies, etc.
Here are some essential rental property inspection checklists to ensure no item remains unchecked:
- Rental walkthrough checklist
- Move-in and move-out inspection checklist
- Apartment inspection checklist
- Residential property inspection checklist
- Vacant property inspection checklist
- Residential fuel gas piping checklist
- Fire safety inspection checklist
- Residential plumbing checklist
- HVAC maintenance checklist
- Pest control checklist
» Property Inspection Checklists: Discover more property audit checklists.
4 Types of Tenant House Inspections
Here are the different types of inspections you must perform based on the time and date of the last inspection:
- Move-in Inspection/Walkthroughs
A move-in inspection is performed by property managers before the tenant moves into the apartment with their belongings. The landlord or the property manager uses a move-in checklist to document the existing damages present in the house.
The rental walkthrough checklist also has photos of the defects present at the time of move-in. This is for the tenant and the owner to acknowledge the property’s existing condition before signing the checklist. Once signed, the move-in checklist becomes an addendum to the lease agreement.
- Quarterly or Bi-annual Inspection
These are routine inspections conducted by the landlord or the property manager every few months. The inspector must inform the tenant of the date and time of the inspection.
These routine checks for rental properties help you stay on top of maintenance problems and give tenants a chance to correct the damages they might have caused. Quarterly inspections also help you check compliance with the lease agreement.
- Drive-by Inspection
Drive-by inspections are visual inspections conducted from outside without stepping into the house. Hence, they don’t require you to inform the tenant in advance.
Although less common, a drive-by inspection might help you catch things out of the ordinary. For instance, you might spot a car often parked in the driveway whose number plate doesn’t match the number mentioned in the lease agreement. This might indicate the presence of an unauthorized resident.
- Move-out Inspection
As the name suggests, a move-out house inspection for a rental property is performed before the tenant leaves the apartment. Its purpose is to check the condition of the unit and document the damages.
Ensure you note the damages carefully along with photos and include them properly in the inspection report. This will help you rightfully deduct the repair or replacement amount from the security deposit. Also, you can bring a copy of the move-in checklist to compare the current condition.
In most cases, the tenants renew the lease agreement and stay in the unit. Even if they choose to leave, it is usually after several years. Therefore, it becomes challenging for the property managers to pull out the old move-in checklists. A digital property inspection tool can help them tackle this problem.
A digital property inspection app like GoAudits generates historical inspection data alongside the new findings. You can get all the earlier inspection reports in a single click. The data is stored on the cloud and remains as it is until you delete it.
How to Perform a Rental or Landlord Inspection?
Here are the steps involved in a rental/landlord/tenant home inspection:
Step 1: Review the Lease Agreement
Always follow the lease agreement, whether it’s yours or your client’s property that you are inspecting. You don’t want to breach the agreement while scheduling or performing the inspection.
Review the lease agreement in advance to avoid violating any clause. In most cases, landlords or property managers must notify the tenant 24-72 hours before the home inspection for a rental property. However, the notification window may differ based on the local laws, so be well-versed with them.
Step 2: Schedule Inspection When the Tenant is at Home
Although not mandatory, you should ask the tenant to be present, especially for an annual or biannual inspection. This allows the tenant to pinpoint any specific issues with the property.
In case of routine or quarterly inspections, it’s alright even if the tenant is not at home. However, you must inform them of the purpose of the inspection beforehand.
Step 3: Use a Thorough Rental Inspection Checklist
The right rental property inspection checklist will help you:
- Keep track of everything you come across during the inspection.
- Maintain a record of defects and deficiencies.
- Make a report of the inspection to submit to the stakeholders.
However, pen-paper rental checklists have many drawbacks. They can clutter your office, and be easily misplaced, and there is no way to easily attach photos. Additionally, you cannot readily integrate them into your reports to share with all parties involved.
A digital property inspection app like GoAudits can help you solve this problem. Most digital tools come with ready-to-use checklists. The best digital inspection software allows you to customize the checklists based on your requirements.
Not just that, with these tools, you can manage post-inspection tasks such as assigning repairs and tracking status in real-time. The best auditing apps allow inspectors to access checklists and complete the inspection offline.
Step 4: Take Photos of Defects
Ensure you take photos of the deficiencies during the inspection, as they will help you claim the repair or replacement amount from the tenant.
For a property manager, photos will help the owners gauge the level of damage on their property. Additionally, photos will help repairers better understand the exact location of the problem.
Step 5: Make and Share Inspection Reports
This step is specifically for property managers, who share the inspection report with the owner and the tenant. The report should contain the detailed inspection outcomes and identified defects along with their photos.
If your client requires comparative data, the current report should also mention the results of the previous inspections. This might also be applicable during a move-out inspection.
Building, managing, and sharing reports can be tedious and paper-loaded. You might spend hours on spreadsheets to compile all the data and make a report manually on a Word doc. Digital property inspection software like GoAudits can come to your rescue.
With these tools, your team members can generate reports in a single click. These reports have all the details, comments, photos of the defects, and the task assignment status.
The report gets shared with all the stakeholders, such as the tenant, owner, contractors, repairers, etc. As a property manager, you have complete control over with whom reports get shared.
Step 6: Assign Fixes to the Contractors and Follow Up
Traditionally, repairs are assigned after the inspection, which might result in a longer turnover time. In case of delay, the damages may cascade and lead to grave problems. To avoid such instances, you must address the defects ASAP.
With a digital inspection tool, you can assign repairs to the contractor during the inspection. For instance, if you observe a leaky faucet, you can assign its fixing to the plumber through the app. You can also define the level of urgency and set a due date. The plumber would receive a ticket in their inbox to take the necessary action. To track the assigned tasks, you can create a follow-up checklist.
Most apps, unlike GoAudits, would require the assignee to be a part of the system. This means you would have to pay extra. However, GoAudits allows you to assign tasks to non-users and get an update from them.
Here’s how Ciaran Mullins, General Superintendent, Woodside Homes streamlined their inspection process with a digital inspection tool:
Best Practices of Rental Inspections
Here are some of the best practices you must follow while conducting a rental inspection:
- Notify the Tenants: Typically, you should notify the tenant 24-72 hours before the inspection. However, some states or local areas may have a set law. Therefore, research your local laws before scheduling an inspection.
- Encourage Tenants to be at Home: Try to get the property condition documents signed by the tenant during the inspection. This ensures that they are also well aware of the property’s condition and there’s full disclosure from your end. Additionally, the tenant can communicate any needed repairs, or you can inform the repairs they need to take care of.
- Don’t Take Photos of Personal Items: Respect tenant’s privacy. Taking photos of personal items such as people, pets, and other devices like computers, etc., should be off the limit.
How Long Does It Take to Perform Rental Home Inspections?
The time you spend inspecting a rental property depends on two factors:
- Type of Inspection
You might want to be thorough with a move-out inspection as it helps determine the amount you need to deduct from the security deposit. However, this shouldn’t take too long because you will inspect a vacant rental unit.
Since you might have already performed a move-out inspection, you can spend less time on the move-in inspection for the new tenant. In this case, you will only be inspecting the repairs and the existing condition of the house.
Routine inspections may take less time if the tenant is trustworthy. You will only focus on the maintenance issues and some compliance-related aspects.
- Rental Property Inspection Checklists
Depending on the type of rental inspection, you need to have a thorough checklist. With an end-to-end rental checklist, you can perform inspections faster.
On average, an inspector spends 30 minutes to 2 hours inspecting a rental unit. However, the inspection doesn’t end there. The inspector has to go back and make a report of the property’s condition – which can take another 2-3 hours.
A digital auditing tool like GoAudits can reduce the overall turnaround time by:
- Streamlining Checklists: You can electronically capture findings and photos, eliminating paperwork.
- Automating Reports: Inspectors can instantly generate reports with time-stamped data and images, saving hours.
- Improving Communication: You can share reports with tenants and landlords in real time, fostering transparency and faster resolutions.
Why are Regular Rental Property Inspections Important?
Regular rental or landlord inspections are necessary for the following reasons:
- Protecting Your Investment: Rental inspections help catch minor issues before they become expensive repairs, saving you (or your client) money in the long run.
- Ensuring Tenant Safety: Inspections identify potential hazards like electrical problems, leaks, or fire risks, keeping your tenants safe and you compliant with regulations.
- Maintaining Property Value: Early intervention prevents damage that could decrease the property value when it’s time to sell or rent again.
- Building Trust With Tenants: Inspections show you care about the property and the tenant’s well-being, fostering a positive relationship.
- Enforcing lease Agreements: Rental inspections ensure tenants are using the property responsibly and adhering to the terms of their lease.
- Peace of Mind: Regular inspections give you the confidence that your property is in good condition, reducing stress and worry.
While rental inspections safeguard your property and tenants, they pose challenges for property managers. This includes scheduling inspections, thorough reporting, and distribution, maintaining records of past inspections, etc. A good digital tenant house inspection tool can help them tackle these problems.
GoAudits: The Best Inspection Tool for Multiple Properties
GoAudits is an inspection app for professionals and teams to manage multiple properties. With GoAudits, you can create your checklist based on the property type and use it several times. Since GoAudits doesn’t charge you based on the number of inspections, you can conduct as many audits as you like.
User-friendly Mobile App
With the GoAudits mobile app, your team members can conduct inspections (both online and offline) and take photos of the defects. They can also assign repair or replacement tasks for which you can create a follow-up checklist. The best part is that you need not pay extra to assign tasks and get updates from the non-user assignees.
Instant Property Inspection Reports
Your team members can generate and share reports instantly with the stakeholders in one click. You can define the stakeholders (with whom the report has to be shared) for each property beforehand.
As a property manager, you can track all your properties and rentals through the inspection dashboard. All you need to do is apply filters based on property, inspector, inspection date, etc.
With a rating of 4.7 stars on Capterra, GoAudits is trusted by some of the biggest names in the industry.
» Customer Success Story: Read how property management companies leverage GoAudits to save time and improve standards.