You are paying the property management company to be your eyes and ears. For this reason, they must be going to be strict about scheduling regular inspections. Many inexperienced real estate owners are unaware of how much damage one tenant can do in a small period. There is an assumption that as long as the rent is being paid on time and there are no complaints, that everything is going well. It is important to not make assumptions or to take anything for granted. Be sure to make your expectations clear to the property management company that you are working with to be sure there are no misunderstandings in the future. Having regularly scheduled inspections allows you to catch problems quickly to save on costly repairs and it is an effective way from deterring poor tenant behavior.
When considering any prospective property management company, ask the following questions about how they inspect the properties that they are currently managing:
What Kind of Move-In Inspections Do They Perform?
Even though tenant completed inspections are normal for apartments, for single-family units, the manager should perform a detailed inspection that included digital photos for evidence later on. The tenant should accompany the manager for a walkthrough and sign off on the report. This initial documentation is essential to resolve any potential disputes over what damage took place during the tenant’s period of residency.
How Often Do They Inspect the Interior of the Property? Are Tenants Notified Before Inside Inspections?
At a minimum, they should inspect the unit annually. However, doing it every six months is even better. The person conducting it should have a checklist that they review, which includes items related to appliances, A/C filters, furnace, water heater, locks, electrical, smoke detectors, and plumbing to look for any potential lease violations.
Do not accept the management company only performing inspections between vacancies. Tenancies can last for many years and there is no excuse for not performing necessary inspections during that time. Many state laws require tenants to receive notice between 24-48 hours depending on state laws.
How Often Do They Inspect the Exterior of the Property?
Usually, it is common to inspect between monthly and quarterly. However, the more frequent the better. It is important to realize that more often than not, many managers are driven by inspections where the person doing it does not get out of their car. This method is acceptable, but it is still important to have a full exterior inspection performed regularly as well.
How Often Are the Inspection Reports Sent to You?
You must ask to see a sample copy of the reports that will be sent to you. If they are not up to standard, it can cause frustration with tenants.
Do They Conduct Inspections When a Repair Request Has Been Made?
If a major repair request has been made, then it is an excellent opportunity to inspect certain parts of the property. Ideally, a property management company should conduct inspections when they enter the unit for a repair call. It is best if the property management company lets the property owner and tenant know that they will be conducting it and take pictures of any additional issues that may become apparent from the property. This way, repairs can be completed earlier rather than later if there is another repair issue to be resolved that would become more expensive if they waited too long.
How Do They Handle Inspections for Pest Issues?
Property management companies can perform pest inspections in the event of an issue in the area surrounding the property. Ask the property management company whether this is a service that they can offer in the event of a serious issue and what the potential cost would be. Pests are not something that should be left unattended because they can be a nuisance to tenants and can also cause violations to certain health codes. Health codes are going to depend on the particular state, and the company needs to have an idea about recent changes in the law to ensure that your property is up to code in terms of pest control.
How Do They Conduct End of Lease Inspections?
The end of lease inspection is one of the most important inspections. Property management companies should be able to provide to property owners a copy of their inspection form and compare it to the inspection they provide at move-in. Property management companies need to take photos of any damages to the property and make a clear itemized list of what the tenant will be responsible for. Once these determinations are made, that amount should be deducted from the balance they will receive from their deposit refund.
These are imperative to protect both the property owner and the property management company. The general rule of thumb is, the more specific, the better. Photos are excellent to use to show the original condition of a property. Having clear inspection lists looks more professional and will have fewer issues from tenants since it will be transparent what condition the unit was in upon move in and how that shifted during the tenant’s residency. Be sure to invest in a property management company that views clear and efficient inspections as a priority, and it will improve your tenant retention rates.
Property management companies can be operationally perfect, but they may not be able to attract new tenants. If a property management company is unable to attract tenants, then they will have issues bringing in rental revenues for property owners. Tenant marketing and retention are one of the most valuable skills that property management companies offer. To learn more about what to expect from a property management company when it comes to tenant marketing and retention services, visit the next section of our guide.