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How Landlords can Survive a Property Inspection

I’ve been to my fair share of disastrous inspections. Truth is, no matter how well you’ve vetted your tenant, you can’t be sure that their standard of living will be the same as yours. Remember, cleanliness is subjective. What looks dirty to you and I may look clean to someone else…

Some landlords dread carrying out inspections, others see it as a mere inconvenience, whether you love or hate them they can have a radical impact on the rest of your day for the better or the worse.

Lots of articles for landlords go into how to carry out the inspection, what to look out for etc., in this article though, we’re giving you some top tips for surviving your inspection:

1. Know the Rules Before You Go

You can’t turn up uninvited!

Legally you have to provide 24 hours’ notice and you must also carry out the inspection at a reasonable time of day. If you didn’t craft the tenancy agreement yourself, make sure you check the tenancy conditions before arranging an inspection. Some agreements will stipulate a different notice period. Letting agents tend to give a few weeks’ notice, whereas some online tenancy agreements will state that 3 days’ notice will be given. Long story short, check your tenancy agreement and make sure to give the right amount of notice.

2. Know What You’re Looking For – Use a Checklist

Many of the rental houses I’ve lived in have been managed by letting agents. I’ve had inspections where the agent walks in, looks around for a few minutes and then leaves. However, the properties aesthetics aren’t the only thing you need to check.

The whole point of an inspection is to inspect. There are some key things you need to check (like smoke and Co2 alarms) and other things you might want to look out for like window frames, heating systems etc. Remember to take your time and look around carefully.

Before you go to an inspection find or create a checklist of things you want to look out for. This will help keep you on track in each room, and if you get flustered for any reason you won’t get thrown off, you’ll have your list to return to.

3. Be Calm and Professional

Most inspections go quite well, but there are the occasional ones that don’t. In some ways it’s best to be prepared for this. I’m not suggesting by any stretch that your inspection won’t go well, but if you keep in mind that the inspection might not go well it can only get better from there.

Whatever you find during your inspection you must remain professional. If you feel that you would struggle to remain professional if the property doesn’t meet your expectations during an inspection you should prepare beforehand.

There are plenty of strategies that can help you to remain calm. Give this some thought before you attend an inspection, then if it turns out that you need help to remain professional you are prepared.

4. Prepare to Remove Distractions

It’s hard to pay attention to two things at once. We all do it, scrolling on our phones while watching TV. Playing a mobile game while talking to someone else, but at no point are you giving any one thing your full attention.

While you are carrying out an inspection you need to concentrate, so plan to remove any distractions before you do. Put your phone on silent and pay attention. With this in mind don’t let the tenant distract you either, it’s fine for them to show you a potential defect or to discuss anything related to the tenancy but don’t let them distract you from the mission at hand.

5. Take Things You Will Need Like a Camera, Pen, Magnifying Glass, etc.

No matter what you find when you get there you should document the inspection. Pictures are the best way to do this, so you might want to take a camera or a mobile phone with you to document what you find. Make sure that whatever you’re taking pictures on has enough battery.

Another common way to document an inspection is to use a checklist or to create some kind of inspection certificate that both you and the tenant should sign. If you want to document the inspection in this way make sure your checklist or certificate is ready and that you have a pen with you. You might also want to take some scrap paper (or use a note taking app on your phone) to jot down notes of things that need to be fixed or dealt with.

I jest about the magnifying glass…

6. Watch The Mentalist to Sharpen Your Sleuthing Skills

You don’t have to actually watch The Mentalist even though it’s a good show. My point here is again about paying attention.

If a tenant refuses to show you a part of the property it’s fine to ask them why and to tell them you want to see it. If you are reaching an impasse with your tenant, tell them you’ll return for a follow up inspection and that you will expect to see the area they have closed off to you.

During your inspection look out for potential tenancy breaches such as illicit pets, cigarette ash etc.

In the interests of clarity, I’m not at all suggesting that all tenants are trying to hide something from you, but not all tenants are angels and so you need to be on the lookout for things that may cause issues in future.

7. Plan Something Nice for Afterwards

Whether you have one or many inspections booked in, plan something nice for afterwards. It could be something simple (in my case tea and cake!) or as lavish as a meal out. As long as it’s something you can look forward to. If all your inspections go well, you’re going to have a good day, if one or more of them go badly at least you have something to look forward to at the end of it all.

8. Don’t Panic – Everything Can Be Fixed

You will have heard this before, but it bears repeating, don’t take things personally.

Yes, it can be devastating when someone doesn’t look after your property, but you are not your properties, you are running a business, and sometimes in business things go wrong. Properties can be fixed and cleaned, rubbish can be thrown away and tenants can be educated. No matter how bad the situation, it can be dealt with.

9. Take a Sec to be Grateful When it Turns Out Everything is Fine and You Have a Model Tenant

When writing articles like this it’s natural to focus on what could go wrong and how you’d fix it or how you could react to different scenarios, but little to no attention is paid to what happens when things go right.

In most cases, your inspection will go well and you’ll be happy with what you’ve seen. In a world as negative as this one can be, just take a moment to be grateful that everything went your way.

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