Among the many things you need to do as a Florida landlord is to inspect the property. It’s the key to keeping your property in pristine condition and to maintaining the value of your investment. Furthermore, not only do inspections let you nip problems in the bud, but they are also a way for you to check if your tenants are following the rules and regulations of the rental. There’s simply no reason not to conduct inspections.
In this post, we’ll be taking a look at the kinds of inspections you’ll likely do as a landlord. We’ll also give you the lowdown on how to do inspections the right way.
What Are the Main Types of Property Inspections?
There are four main types of inspections you’ll need to do as a landlord, namely:
#1. Move-In Inspection
It is important to perform this inspection when new tenants move into a property. It involves walking through the property with the tenants to note its current condition with the use of pictures, videos, and checklists. The main reason the move-in inspection is so vital is that it will be later compared to the move-out inspection. It shows you whether your tenants have maintained the property to your standard. If they have not, you can opt to withhold a portion of their security deposit to pay for the repairs.
A move-in inspection must be as detailed as possible and note the state of the rental property room by room. Once the inspection is complete, you and your tenants must sign the inspection report to show that you agree with its contents. In that way, your tenant won’t be able to claim the property was in bad shape when they moved in.
#2. Move-Out Inspection
The yin to the move-in inspection’s yang is the move-out inspection. This inspection focuses on the unit’s condition at the end of the tenancy and lets you evaluate whether your tenants ruined it in any way. For example, if the move-in inspection shows clean walls, but the walls are now dirty during move-out, that would indicate poor property maintenance on the tenant’s part.
It’s a good idea to conduct the move-out walkthrough with your tenants to avoid disputes down the road. If the property’s condition isn’t acceptable, it’s up to you to decide if you should deduct the repair costs from their deposit. Do note, however, that damage does not include wear and tear – this refers to the inevitable damage due to aging, such as the slight staining of carpets.
#3. Routine Inspections
It’s standard procedure in any rental property to conduct routine inspections. It allows you or your property management firm to spot potential issues early on so they don’t escalate into costly repairs. Furthermore, it’s a way to confirm if the tenant truly is abiding by the rules as stated in their rental contract. For example, without an inspection, you wouldn’t be able to scold your tenant for owning pets when you explicitly told them that pets aren’t allowed on the property.
#4. Drive-By Inspection
A drive-by inspection is one of the most informal inspections you can conduct. As the name implies, it involves reviewing the rental’s condition while you drive by in your vehicle. Compared to other types of rental inspections, a drive-by does not require you to obtain a tenant’s permission as you don’t need to enter the property.
Its main advantage is that, because you only need to drive by, it can be done whenever you want – you could even conduct a drive-by inspection on your way to work! However, that doesn’t mean you should do it all the time. You should still respect your tenant’s privacy, or else they may call you out and involve the court.
When Should You Conduct Property Inspections?
So, how often should you conduct routine inspections in occupied properties? In the rental real estate industry, inspections are typically completed every 6 months if the tenants are in a one-year contract. However, your state laws may limit the number of times you can inspect your property within a year. That being said, it would be beneficial to consult with property maintenance services that are well-versed in the laws about property inspections.
Tips on Conducting Rental Property Inspections
We’ve put together a few tips to guarantee that your inspection goes smoothly:
#1. Give Advance Notice
On paper, it may be your property, but that doesn’t mean you can step inside its doors at a moment’s notice. By law, you are obligated to give your tenant advance notice – in most states, the window to inform your tenant is at least 24 hours before the visit. The only exception (i.e. when you can enter without the tenant’s express permission) is when you have a reasonable belief that your tenant may be in harm’s way.
#2. Prepare a Checklist
To speed up the property inspection process, you must arm yourself with an inspection checklist. That way, you can accurately review whether everything is in good working order and condition. As you review every room, you can use your checklist to check items such as:
To speed up the property inspection process, you must arm yourself with a property inspection checklist. That way, you can accurately review whether everything is in good working order and condition. As you review every room, you can use your checklist to check items such as:
- Floors, walls, and ceilings
- Windows and doors (including the locks)
- Smoke alarms
- Plumbing fixtures and systems
- Electrical fixtures and systems
You’ll need a separate checklist for the exterior. For example, your exterior checklist could include items such as gates and fences, as well as tree branches (there may be overhanging branches that need to be trimmed).
#3. Request the Tenant to Be Present
The tenant doesn’t have to be there, but it can be beneficial if they’re present. That way, they can voice their concerns, and conversely, you can ask them to keep an eye on certain aspects of the property that may be problematic in the future.
#4. Take Photos
Writing what you see won’t do. While it’s necessary for your report to contain written comments, it won’t be complete if it isn’t accompanied by photos. In addition, if you claim that the tenant should cover repair costs due to damage they’ve done, your tenant probably won’t believe you if you don’t have evidence. Photos can be incredibly powerful tools during disputes.
What Should the Property Inspection Report Contain?
There are no requirements on your rental property inspection report’s appearance. It can be whatever you want, as long as it can be understood by you. The Internet is a treasure trove of free and downloadable property inspection templates, but if you’ve employed property management services, they’ll use their company’s template by default.
As a rule of thumb, the inspection report should be a brief (emphasis on brief) outline of your observations. Focus on parts of the property that you’ve identified as causes for concern, such as a leaky pipe or uncaulked door. You could even prepare reports by room (e.g. one report for the master bedroom, another report for the guest bedroom, and so on) or by floor. A Florida property management firm can tailor your report to your preferences.
Inspections Made Easy With Luxury Property Care
Inspections can be time-consuming, but you can’t put them off, otherwise, your property’s condition will be compromised. If you often find yourself pressed for time, you may want to consider partnering with the experts at Luxury Property Care. Property inspections are ingrained in our Wellington property management plan. Plus, when we conduct inspections, we use our comprehensive inspection checklist to make sure every part of your property is reviewed. The best part is that we don’t stop at making sure your property is well-maintained. We also provide full-service property management in Wellington, ranging from tenant screening to bookkeeping.