o you have found a tenant and the rent is coming in, what should you do next?
You must conduct periodic inspections throughout the tenancy. Doing this will ensure the condition of the property and make sure the tenants are not breaching any of the terms of the tenancy agreement.
You can also see the overall condition of the interior and exterior of the property at regular times throughout the tenancy. Typically, you should carry out property inspections on a 3-monthly basis, however, you can consider reducing these after frequent, positive inspection after the first year to the same tenants.
WARNING: Although it is very important for you to carry out regular inspections, it is also just as important to not conduct too many, as this can be deemed as harassment. There shouldn’t be the need to make so many inspections unless of course it for genuine maintenance issues that need attending to. Your tenant could file a complaint against you if they feel that you are making a lot of unnecessary visits too frequently.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, states that landlords have the right to enter the premises to view its “condition and state of repair”. Inspections must be conducted at “reasonable times of the day”, and you must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ written notice.
If anyone other than you or your letting agent is due to carry out the inspection, that person must be authorised in writing. Once the inspection has been carried out you should compile a report and send it to your tenant and keep a copy on file. This document could be used as evidence in the event of a dispute at the end of the tenancy but will also show proof that you are conforming with your landlord responsibilities.
WHY ARE INSPECTIONS NECESSARY?
For various reasons, you or your letting agent needs to carry out periodic inspections for each tenancy.
What should you be looking out for?
Repairs and maintenance issues:
One of the main reasons for periodic inspection is you can notice any obvious maintenance issues. It is also the perfect opportunity for your tenants to report any minor repairs or problems before they spiral out of control and become major issues. It is always easier and much more cost-effective to repair problems at their early stages. Something simple, like a small drip, could turn into a huge leak if it is not attended too.
Please Note: You should not just rely on your tenants to report issues to ensure that everything is in working order. While the majority of tenants will report serious issues, many won’t report the small ones until before it becomes too late.
Sometimes, through no fault of their own, your tenants will be completely unaware of potential problems. They might have become accustomed to the smell of damp, but you will notice it as soon as you walk through the door. It always helps to have a fresh pair of eyes (and a nose) to look over the property.
Your investment property might be in good condition; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your tenants are looking after it. You might not be able to evict them based on the way they live, but it may aid your decision as to whether you wish to renew the tenancy agreement at the end of the tenancy.
You are unable to tell your tenant how to live if they are untidy, but if you find there is cleaning required, you can inform them that this could resort in damage to the property if they do not do anything about it. If they leave clothes hanging around, that is their lifestyle choice and not detrimental to the property, but if they do not clean the bathrooms, this could result in staining of the fixtures and fittings.
You may think that you have good tenants because they are consistently paying the rent on time, however, the reality is that some of the worst tenants are the best payers. They want to keep you away from the property and therefore hide their illegal activities.
There have been reports that an increasing number of tenants turn their homes into cannabis farms. Therefore, you mustn’t assume your tenants are good renters because they pay the rent on time.
Build a good relationship:
Having clear communication and good rapport are key to a stress-free relationship with your tenant, which can even make your investment more profitable. If you don’t have a good relationship with your tenant, you could be making a big mistake and causing you a lot of hassle.
Having a good relationship will make it easier for you, especially when arranging inspections and repairs, as well as making your tenants more likely to want to renew the tenancy agreement at the end of the fixed term. This will ultimately lead to long-term, reliable tenants for you.
What to look for
Some landlords will conduct a more thorough inspection than others, but there are certain areas that you must always check:
A lot of tenants are not aware of what condensation mould is, they usually see the mould and automatically think there is either a leak or the property has damp. Condensation mould is one of the most popular types of mould to appear and it is one of the most important issues to look out for. Many tenants simply don’t realise how dangerous and serious mould infestations can be, but you must be aware of them.
Always look around the windows, ceilings, corners of rooms particularly outside walls and wardrobes, pay special attention to rooms prone to moisture, such as the bathroom and kitchen. Don’t forget to check the pipework hidden away in kitchen units, and ensure that all extractor fans work – this will help to prevent mould infestations.
We have written a guide ‘How to deal with condensation’ that will help to prevent damp in your property. Print it off and pass to your tenant to help them understand what they can do to prevent the build-up of condensation and mould.
Run all the taps in the property and check for any signs of leaks from the pipework. Leaks can be one of the main causes of mould and rot. This can have a devastating effect on the health of your tenants and the condition of the property.
Check the drains outside for blockages and to ensure that water is not overflowing and check the overflow pipes as this can lead to much bigger problems.
Fixtures and fittings
Check to make sure that all the fixtures and fittings, as well as any other items you have provided, are in a good condition and a good working order.
You should have a clause in your tenancy agreement that specifies the tenants must maintain the garden, you should check that it is neat and not overgrown.
If you find that the garden is not being well kept, you can advise the tenant that it needs attention, otherwise it could cost them a lot of money to have it put back as it was when they moved in.
Pay attention to the loft, have a look around with a torch to check for any leaks, holes, rodents or any illegal farms.
Fair wear and tear
There is often a fine line between fair wear and tear and actual damage. You can only make your tenants liable for damage and not for fair wear and tear. Look around the property and decide which issues are caused by reasonable use of the property daily – such as scuff marks on the walls.
If you use a letting agent to manage your property, it is common for them to conduct periodic inspections on your behalf. You must make sure that they do visit the property and supply you with a report afterwards. Most agents record the condition of the property and note down any problems.
Inspection clauses in the tenancy agreement
Make sure that your tenancy agreement has a clause for periodic inspections. By having this in the tenancy agreement it specifies that the landlord has permission to access the property to conduct an inspection and ensures your tenants are aware of your duties.
It is the law that landlords must keep the property in a good state of repair and tenants might not be aware of your rights to check the condition of the property regularly.
At the check-in, it would also be worth mentioning to your tenants that you or your agent will be conducting periodic inspections of the interior and exterior of the property, and a report will be compiled.
What if my tenant refuses entry
Your tenant might not feel comfortable having people in their home, especially if they are not present and this might result in them not allowing entry. Be aware that some could be refusing access due to illegal activities.
All tenants are entitled to live in “quiet enjoyment”, meaning that you or your agent must seek their permission before entering the property. What can you do if permission is refused?
Try and speak to your tenants and find out why they are not allowing access, if it is because they want to be present arrange a time suitable to them.
Even though you have the right to inspect the condition of your property, you can only do this by entering a formal application for a court order. You or your agent cannot enter the property without consent and if you do, it could be considered as trespassing or harassment.
The only exception to this is if there is an emergency. In these cases, you can enter the property without permission from the tenant.
You might wish to consider serving notice on the tenant so that they must vacate the property at the end of the tenancy.
Should the tenant refuse entry and, the property is in a worse state of repair at the end of the tenancy, you may be able to claim against their deposit.
Most tenants will be happy to allow you access to carry out the property inspection. The best way to arrange this is by writing to them and giving them at least a weeks’ notice stating the date and time and asking them to contact you if it is inconvenient to them and to be able to arrange a mutually convenient time.
We hope this guide has given you a good insight as to why you should carry out regular inspections of your property.
Do you have a story to tell about an inspection you have carried out? We would love to know! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment in the comment section.