In order to sustain a long-lasting rental property that will create positive cash flow, you must maintain your property on a consistent basis.
No matter how thoroughly you screen your tenants, what kind of background checks you perform, how timely their rent payments are, or how highly recommended they come from previous landlords, the truth is sometimes people damage property.
You don’t want it to be yours.
Today we will will look at the four main inspections you should conduct in every single rental property you own in an effort to keep your property protected and well-maintained so you can continue to command the competitive rental rates that make you an annual profit.
Why Conduct Rental Inspections?
In the Howard County area, you can expect securely employed, highly paid, and well-educated residents. Those residents are the ones applying for your rental property because everyone needs a place to live, right?
However, despite the quality of people that make up a particularly well-to-do region, it is important that you protect yourself and your rental property from any damage incurred by your tenants. One of the easiest ways to do this is to conduct routine rental inspections.
Need more convincing? Here are some of the main reasons you should invest time and effort into your rental inspections:
- You will identify any maintenance or repair issues that need fixing before they become major expenses.
- You can follow up on tenants to ensure they are conducting tenant maintenance responsibilities agreed to in the lease.
- You can legally protect yourself should an issue arise in the future if it comes down to your word against your tenant’s.
Rental Inspection Tips
Before going into detail about the main types of inspections you should conduct on all of your rental properties, it is important that you understand some of the things to look for while performing each inspection:
- Unauthorized pets
- Illegal activities
- Proper tenant maintenance
- Items needing repair
- Additional occupants
- Any exterior damage including the property’s structure and landscaping
You should always keep excellent records each time you perform a rental inspection of your property. Make note of the dates, times, condition of the property, and even take photographs if possible.
You might even consider using a checklist such as this one so that you do not leave anything out during your inspection. These records will serve you well in court should a dispute arise over damage done to your property.
Rental Inspection Types
Now that you have a good handle on why you should perform routine rental inspections and some of the most common things to look for during one, let’s explore the four main types of inspections all landlords should carry out.
1. Move-In Inspection
If you are about to leave your Elkridge rental home to new tenants, you should participate in a move-in inspection that involves your tenants.
Move-in inspections are necessary for documenting the condition of your property at the time of your tenants move-in so that there is never a questions of what the property looked like from the start of tenancy. This initial rental inspection sets the stage for the entire tenancy and will help determine, beyond normal wear and tear, what your tenants may be responsible for at the time they move out of your property should any damage occur to the property.
Every single room should be thoroughly inspected with notes and photographs being taken documenting any damage that is present before tenancy begins. At the end of this inspection, so long as both parties are in full agreement, an inspection checklist should be signed by both landlord and tenant to avoid confusion in the future. This inspection report will be used at the end of your tenant’s lease to determine how much of the collected security deposit will go towards repairing your rental property.
2. Move-Out Inspection
This rental inspection is a way for you to determine the extent of damage your tenants may have caused throughout their tenancy. As part of the lease agreement, it is the tenant’s responsibility to return the property in the same overall condition as when they moved in.
The move-out inspection should be conducted in the same way as the move-in inspection, with both landlord and tenant present to document any damages beyond normal wear and tear. What way you do not leave yourself open to tenant disputes over any damages you claim was caused by the tenant.
After comparing the move-in inspection report with that of the move-out inspection report, you may then determine how much of the security deposit can be used.
3. Seasonal Inspection
The seasonal inspection is extremely important, especially in an area such as Columbia, Maryland where the four seasons are distinct and play a role in maintaining your home and yard.
Each season brings a new set of maintenance responsibilities, many of which fall upon your tenants. In order to keep your rental property in tip-top shape, consider performing a seasonal inspection to assess the property for any needed repairs or reminders about things such as winterizing the exterior pipes.
This type of rental inspection gives you the opportunity to help your tenants out of keeping them on track as far as property care is concerned. Remind them that caring for the property will help them get their security deposit at the of the lease term. Not only will you be encouraging them to protect their security deposit, you will also be encouraging them to protect your home.
4. Drive-By Inspection
This rental inspection is a little bit more low-key than the other inspection types. Rather than coordinate an inspection with your tenants with proper notice and a scheduled inspection time, a drive-by inspection allows you to simply pass by your property and look for yourself whether it seems to be in okay condition.
Since a tenant will be unaware of your visit things such as poor landscape maintenance and unauthorized pets will become obvious. If you notice anything that requires fixing, simple notify your tenants in writing detailing the issue.
Conducting a drive-by inspection is okay and does not require tenant notification so long as you do not do it too often. Disrupting a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment can become a major issue for you that can land you in some hot water with the courts.
If you are leasing your Howard County rental property, it is strongly recommended you take part in the above-mentioned rental inspections. Not only can you protect yourself against any wrongful lawsuits angry tenants may drag you into, you will protect your biggest assest: your rental property. Without a well-maintained rental home it will be difficult to find quality tenants willing to lease from you. And you definitely do not want to bear the costs of keeping that home maintained because you didn’t conduct routine inspections.
Luckily for you, one of the things Maryland’s best property management group does for landlords is conduct thorough move-in and move-out rental inspections. Bay Management Group documents all damage that has been incurred during tenancy, complete with a detailed checklist and photographs to supplement, so you can be sure you will not be responsible for any damage your tenants cause.
Additionally, Bay Management Group will conduct routine inspections throughout the term of your tenant’s lease to make sure your home is being well-cared for and properly maintained according to the signed lease agreement.
If you are looking to hire a property management team that is well-versed in all things property management, consider giving Bay Management Group a call. Their knowledgeable staff will gladly answer all of your questions and get your rental home inspected properly so that you have one less thing to worry about.