Inspection Do's and Don'ts
As a landlord, your property is both your own personal investment and the source of your livelihood.
Understandably, landlords will want to do all they can to make sure tenants are living up to their end of the bargain. If you suspect that your tenants aren't behaving responsibly or properly, then this is always worth investigating in more detail. One of the most direct ways to do this is to carry out an inspection or viewing to get a first-hand look at your property.
How can I protect my right to inspect my property?
This isn't always as easy as it sounds, however. Landlords don't have any legal entitlement to carry out a viewing of this kind mid-tenancy, so they have to be careful in order to keep their property safe and to ensure they don't infringe on tenants' own rights.
One of the most important protective measures that landlords have is the tenancy agreement. This outlines what is required of both landlord and tenant for the duration of the tenancy. There have still, however, been many cases over the years in which properties have become damaged, furniture has been irreparably broken or, in particularly severe cases, the leased tenant has left the property to let someone else live there instead.
Because of this, it's worth writing a clause into your tenancy agreement which outlines a periodic term - perhaps every three months - at which you will be able to carry out an inspection of your property. After all, if you can see your property relatively frequently, it's much more likely that you will become aware of problems in time to do something about them. Without such a clause, landlords often do not find out about breaches of their tenancy agreement until after their tenants have moved out, by which time it is often too late to seek reparations.
How should I inspect my property?
Here are some key things to make sure you do, or don't do, when carrying out the inspection itself:
Do give notice. If you're going to inspect your property, be sure to give your tenants at least a weeks' notice. State the date and time clearly, making sure it's within working hours. Be sure to add, too, that if this time is inconvenient for the tenant, it is their responsibility to get in touch and arrange another time for the inspection.
Do make thorough checks. Once in the property, take a good luck around all rooms to ensure that furniture and other fittings are being properly maintained. Take the opportunity to ask about any issues, such as breakages, which might have arisen during the tenancy. If your tenant is not present, and someone else is, always enquire who they are, as illegally sublet properties can be a nightmare for landlords.
Don't turn up unannounced. If you do not give sufficient notice then an inspection could be considered harassment. Besides the legal implications, unannounced visits are discourteous and may put your relationship with your tenants under strain. Most tenants do, in fact, take good care of the properties the rent. If you act with respect towards them, they're much more likely to cooperate with you, too.
Don't let yourself in. The Housing Act allows the agent to enter the house for routine repairs, but not for inspections. If your tenant isn't present, or refuses to let you in, then you will have to pursue other avenues of inquiry. Most tenants with nothing to hide should not refuse you access provided you've given them advance warning, however, so do be aware of this.
Provided you're aware of your rights, as well as those of your tenant, then a property inspection can be a great way to set your mind at ease and ensure your investment is safe. Communication, as ever, is key. If you maintain a professional relationship with your tenants, then you'll likely return to a well maintained property at the end of your tenancy.