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DIY Property Inspections

Wednesday 18 October 2017

By Carl Agar

In an effort to cut back on costs, many landlords these days are opting to do their own property inspections and marketing etc. In this article we’re zooming in on inspections and looking at not just what it involves, but when it’s appropriate and how much notice you must legally give your tenants.

Why is it crucial to regularly inspect your property?

The main point of an inspection is obviously to ensure your property is in good condition. That means checking your tenants are looking after it, both inside and out and ensuring everything is working properly for them.

Unfortunately most tenants won’t be as invested in your property as you are - which means they probably won’t notice that leaking overflow pipe outside or, if they do, won’t bother reporting it. 

Sometimes these things need to be spotted early to prevent them escalating into a far bigger problem.

It’s worth pointing out too that even the best and most conscientious tenants won’t notice problems if they’ve been living with them for so long they become commonplace – eg. the smell of dampness in a particular room may be ‘normal’ to them, but sets off alarm bells for you

Another reason for regularly inspecting your property, especially at the beginning of a tenancy, is to check that those living in your property are who they say they are. Even if they initially came across as decent tenants – you need to go in to be really sure they’re not doing any damage, and not doing anything illegal in your property, such as sub-letting, cultivating a cannabis farm, or even harbouring illegal immigrants. (I’ve seen all of these). 

Regular inspections with a long-term tenant also allow you to build up a good relationship of mutual respect with him or her - meaning they are more likely to look after your property and to stay (saving you marketing costs in advertising for another tenant and concerns over any void periods). 

 

What should you look out for?

  • Apart from checking all known problem areas, closely examine windows and sinks moisture – including under sink kitchen cupboards. The bathroom is another ‘moisture dangerous’ area and worth thoroughly looking over too. Black mould is a sign of condensation and means you have a ventilation problem in that area.
  • Look for anything that could become a potential problem, such as dripping taps (in fact, run all the taps in case of leaks), a radiator that’s only half heating up, a blocked drain, cracks on the wall that weren’t there before etc. Nip all of these in the bud at an early stage and you’ll save yourself money later on down the line.
  • Have a quick check too of the toilet, cooker and white goods to ensure they’re all in good working order. 
  • Definitely check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as legally these must be supplied and working. Doing an inspection of a property with a garden also gives you a chance to check if the grass needs cutting,fence panels need replacing or repairing or if there’s any rubbish building up.

If you want to become an expert in property inspections then I would advise getting yourself on a HHSRS course which will give you all the knowledge you need!

How often should you inspect?

Turn up too often (ie. every month) and you could be accused of breaching the Tenants rights to the peaceful enjoyment of the property. I would advise doing an initial 3 month inspection and then once you’re happy with everything, you switch it to every six months.

It’s worth noting that if you intend to do an inspection then legally you have to give your tenants at least 24 hours notice in writing (ie. letter, email or even text). Just turning up and letting yourself is not acceptable, remember this is your property but its someone else's home!

For more information and ideas, check out the Simple Guide to Inspections here. 

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Article by:

Carl Agar

Carl Agar

Carl Agar is the managing Director of Big Red House letting agents, founder and Chief Executive of The Home Safe Scheme, has been the Yorkshire representative of the National Landlords Association for the last decade - the UK’s largest landlord association, as well as being a Landlord and Investor.