When you invest in a rental property in Maryland, you are taking some risks. From your financial standing to your investment portfolio, maintaining high-quality properties is crucial to operating a well-oiled rental property. One of the best ways to protect your investment and ensure a high-quality property is to obtain a regular rental property inspection.
These inspections can help you spot issues before they grow into expensive repairs down the line. Communication is key to a good working relationship between you and your tenants, and having regular inspections can help you establish this contact and build a rapport with them.
In addition, inspections allow you to set expectations for your tenants on the maintenance of your property and how they should return it to you when they move out. Inspections can also help you identify tenant damages and document property issues to help potential court cases. If you own a Maryland rental property, you should invest in an inspection.
Why Should You Inspect Your Rental Property in Maryland?
There are many reasons why you should schedule rental property inspections for your Maryland investment property. They are a great form of damage control and allow you to maintain a greater sense of authority over your property. In addition, they can help you cut down on future costs by nipping issues in the bud.
- Preventative Maintenance – When you schedule a rental property inspection, you invest in preventive maintenance for your real estate. Your rental inspection checklist will encompass potential issues that could lead to very large expenses, such as clogged furnace filters, frozen hose bibs over the winter, damage to your roof, and improper smoke or carbon dioxide detectors. They protect you from potential legal action in case of significant property damage that could lead to tenant injuries. While you will have to pay for the maintenance and inspection up front, paying for an inexpensive fix today is preferable to paying for expensive repairs tomorrow.
- Communication With Your Tenants – This is key to developing a strong relationship and setting expectations for your property. When you schedule regular inspections, you and your tenants can communicate and address potential issues in an easy manner. You can also set expectations about how you want your tenants to maintain and return your property, which you can keep tabs on throughout your tenants’ stay. Be open with your tenants about any condition issues you notice so that they have time to resolve them per the terms of your lease.
- Document Damage Caused by Tenants – Inspections also help you understand if damage is normal wear and tear or tenant-caused. Maryland is a very tenant-friendly state and judges often side with tenants in court cases, so you need to have detailed documentation available to help prove your case. Make sure you have a detailed record of your Pre-Lease Conditions, the signed Move-In and Move-Out Condition Checklists, mid-lease inspection photos, written damage records, and any other documentation when you go to the courtroom. With regular inspections, you can create and have access to all of these documents to support your case.
What Types of Inspections Should You Perform on Your Maryland Rental Property?
You need to perform inspections fairly regularly to ensure that you have proper documentation of your property’s condition and to manage any developing issues. There are multiple types of inspections that you should perform on your rental property, with each type having its own requirements in terms of frequency and tasks to attend to.
- Move-In Inspections: You should perform this inspection the same day that your tenants move into the property. You should take photos with the time and date stamped on them, a video-walkthrough, and have your tenants fill out and sign a Move-In Condition Checklist. You should also sign this document and inspect all plumbing, HVAC systems, appliances, and windows and doors.
- Mid-Lease/Routine Inspections: Under Maryland law, you must notify your tenant 24 hours prior to this inspection. You should perform routine inspections at least once every six months. During this inspection, take time and date stamped photos and send a follow-up letter to your tenants regarding any issues you find on the property. During the inspection, perform preventive maintenance by checking furnace filters, the water heater and roof for any signs of wear and tear, batteries in smoke detectors, and make sure to turn off exterior hose bibs.
- Move-Out Inspections: You also have to give your tenants 24 hours’ notice prior to this inspection. You should perform the Move-Out inspection as soon as your tenants move out of the property, preferably within 48 hours. You and the tenants should complete this inspection together so they know what will come out of the deposit. Use the same Move-In Checklist as you go through the house and have your tenants sign it after the inspection is complete. You want the tenants to understand their responsibilities and legal obligations. During this inspection, check the plumbing, HVAC systems, appliances, and windows and doors. In addition, make a note of the condition of your floors, wall paint colors, and the exterior.
- Drive-By Inspections: You do not have to give notice for this type of inspection. Drive-By inspections help you observe if your property has any exterior issues due to tenant neglect. You want to check for the condition of the lawn and bushes, missing shingles or damage to the roof, missing siding, and potential Homeowners Association violations such as improper trash and vehicle storage. If you notice any issues during this inspection, you may want to schedule a routine inspection.
The Importance of a Rental Property Inspection
You want to ensure that you do everything in your power to protect your investment from damage; physically, financially, and legally. Investing in proper screening of applicants, setting property condition expectations, and regularly inspecting your Maryland property are keys to successful damage control and property savings down the line.
Do you need additional assistance scheduling inspections and maintaining your property? Protect your Maryland rental property and schedule your regular inspection today. Contact Bay Property Management Group in Howard County today to learn about how our property managers can facilitate inspections for you.