Regular inspections are a large and essential part of the property management world. Landlords in Rockville, MD, and surrounding areas are responsible for performing several different types of inspections at their properties. These inspections both protect the tenant and landlord. Besides, they help to keep the property well run and without significant damage or maintenance issues. Also, make sure you have a detailed inspection report and know what to look for when conducting inspections.
4 Types of Rental Property Inspections
There are four primary types of inspections that property managers/landlords should complete in their units.
- Move-in: A move-in inspection occurs with the landlord and new tenant and should be completed before move-in day or within 48-hours of the move-in. Use a detailed move-in inspection sheet that the tenant signs off on when completing the inspection. The inspection should include items like walls, kitchen counters, appliances, the tub, and any other items that could have damage to them. If you and/the tenant notice anything during the walkthrough, always note the damage. That way, you can fix it quickly, and if for some reason it doesn’t get fixed when the tenant moves out, they are confident they won’t get charged for prior damage.
- Move-out: The move-out inspection is similar to that of the move-in. It will help determine the condition of the property. It is also best to do this with the tenants to avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts. If there are noticeable damages or maintenance requirements at the fault of the tenant, it is important to note them on a move-out checklist, take photos for documentation and provide the original move-in inspection sheet as proof to these being new issues. Proper documentation ensures compliance with security deposit refund laws. If the tenant is available, do the inspection right away after move-out to avoid them having the chance to argue the damages as not theirs.
- “Drive-by”: A drive-by inspection is the easiest inspection and is just to verify the exterior of the property is being well taken care of and doesn’t have any damage due to weather, etc. You can’t always rely on tenants to report damage (especially exterior damage or maintenance they may not even notice). Therefore, it is your responsibility to do drive-bys on occasion and put in for support as needed. These inspections are simple and don’t require tenant permission or presence.
- Routine: Depending on the property age and tenant length of stay, a routine inspection should be held every three to six months. A tenant will need to be present or alerted to your inspection/give permission ahead of time. During this inspection, you should check the interior and exterior of the property. Plan to address any maintenance concerns that may need fixing. This inspection is imperative to keep a well-run and safe property.
Property Inspection Tips:
We have some tips for when completing property inspections to ensure no issues with the tenant arise. Follow the tips below for a successful property inspection.
- Notice to Enter: Always notify residents before an inspection will occur. Entering a tenant’s unit without permission can result in them legally terminating the lease early. Also, it is the right thing to do. No one wants someone entering their home without permission (even if they rent it). Call first, always knock and don’t enter if the tenant isn’t home unless otherwise given written permission.
- Avoid Personal Items: Have tenants home whenever possible. Avoid touching, moving, or photographing tenant belongings. This is on the same inappropriate level of entering without permission. Do not under any circumstances move a tenants stuff or take photos of it. If something is in your way, ask them to move it. If the tenant isn’t home, then return when they are.
- Avoid Conflict: Even if you don’t agree with the tenant or visa versa, it is never a good idea to start a conflict or confrontation of any sort with a tenant. Calmly try to resolve the issue, if that doesn’t work, then leave and take the appropriate next action. For example, if they damaged the unit but refuse to pay for the damage (goes above and beyond their security deposit), don’t push it, send the bill, and if they fail to pay the invoice take the tenants to court as a last resort.
- Consistent Inspections: Never miss a move-in or move-out inspection, particularly. This is the best way to cover your bases and be sure the tenant is aware of any documented damage. This is the best way to ensure any damages get paid/fixed with little conflict. Also, do routine maintenance and drive-by inspections to avoid any maintenance issues building up and becoming worse/more expensive over time.
When Problems Arise During the Inspection:
Conducting routine inspections helps to mitigate extensive property damage and issues with the property. However, you will come upon damage and necessary repairs, especially with problem tenants. These are tenants that like to argue everything, withhold rent for non-reasonable things, and cause harm to your property. Below you will find some common inspection issues and how to resolve them.
- Tenant Claims Entering without Permission: This is a rare issue to occur and generally only happens if a tenant wants to get out of a lease without paying. However, if you followed the tips above (and the law for that matter), there will be no legal ground for tenant complaints. Always remember to get written permission is the tenant will not be present for the inspection. However, best practice is only to do inspections when the tenant is present unless it is an emergency circumstance.
- Tenant Disagrees with Damages/Fees: Tenants always want their security deposit back and never want to owe more money upon move-out. However, in some cases, especially with careless or messy tenants, this doesn’t happen, and they will argue. Despite their arguments, you have every right to collect money or keep their deposit if the damage is above and beyond standard wear and tear. If they keep arguing, respond politely and avoid confrontation, but get a lawyer involved.
- The Tenant is Argumentative or Threatening: An example of this would be if you are inspecting a tenants unit and note damages, and they go above and beyond normal arguing. They may get violent or raise their voice, threaten you, etc. If this occurs, exit the unit and take the appropriate next steps. If it is a serious enough conflict, it may involve calling the local police department. You will always win by walking away from these situations and handling them legally and professionally!
Keeping up with rental property can be a huge task for landlords. Hiring a Montgomery County property manager can take the guesswork out of completing inspections and ensure your rental home in properly maintained. Bay Property Management Group Montgomery County offers professional property management serving Rockville, Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, Germantown, and surrounding areas.