Landlording & Rental Properties

10 Must-Check Items on Your Tenanted Property Walkthrough

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Recently, I wrote an article about the importance of conducting what I like to call a “maintenance terrain walk” on your properties at least twice per year. In that article, I explained how we found some particularly serious issues with a property. But toilets and doors are not the only items of concern when inspecting your properties.

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Related: The Investor’s Guide to Quickly and Accurately Evaluating Home Repair Costs

What to Look For

Here is a list of 10 big ticket items you want to lay eyes on when you are inspecting your properties.

1. The Furnace and Air Conditioner

Furnaces and air conditioners are notorious for collecting dust and dirt from tenants not changing out filters. Inspect the filters and furnace to make sure that the tenants are keeping up with the replacements if needed. Don’t forget to check the outside A/C compressor units as well. Layers of dust, pollen, and grass can accrue on the units, causing them to run inefficiently. Clean all as needed.

2. Sinks

Sinks are notorious for dripping and leaking, and tenants are notorious for not calling about these issues. Check the functionality of the sinks and all associated equipment like spray attachments and garbage disposals. Take a look under the sink to make sure there is no evidence of mold from past water leaks or water staining.

3. Toilets

Sometimes I think toilets have cost landlords more money over simple fixes than any other water-related appliance in a house. In my previous article, I told you about how we were losing $30-$50 per month because of a leaky toilet that nobody bothered to call about.

When you check toilets, take the lid off and inspect the fill valves along with the flapper. If they look old and corroded, you may be better off replacing them preemptively rather than waiting for it to fail. The combination of fill valve and flapper is about $15 at a hardware store.

4. Doors and Windows

Doors and windows should be checked for any large gaps or cracks that could let unwanted air through. Check the general condition and security of the door and locks. Its your responsibility to ensure that you provide the tenant with a functioning door and lock. Not to mention that it gives them a sense of peace and security knowing that someone can’t just come blow their door down.

5. The Foundation/Structural Integrity

Checking the outside of your home can tell you a lot about the general condition of the building. Maybe you notice a lean that was not there last year, or maybe there’s a large pressure crack in the cement from the frost heaving that’s causing a safety concern. You don’t have to bring a structural engineer onboard to do this, just give it a standard look to make sure there is nothing blatantly obvious with the house that needs immediate attention.

6. The Roof

home-roof

A house roof is an item that is not only expensive to replace, but can also cost a lot of money if not maintained. You don’t need to get on the roof,  but check for curling or missing shingles from weather or wind damage. If you do decide to go up on the roof, you might as well take a peek at the gutters to make sure they are free of leaves and debris.

7. Major Appliances

If you supply the main appliances to the home, you want to check on their condition and security. Now, I personally don’t open the tenants fridge, etc., but I do a pretty good look-over of the appliances to ensure there are no water leaks present and that the appliances are being properly maintained.

Check the dryer screen too. This will tell you if the tenant is neglecting to care for the dryer, which can ultimately end up costing you in the long run—like a fire starting from a full lint trap. A simple reminder usually helps with the issue.

Related: Landlords—Schedule Semi-Annual Walkthroughs of Tenanted Properties, or You’ll Be Sorry

8. Yard Care and General Cleanliness

Checking the general cleanliness of the house and appearance of the yard work will tell you a lot about the tenant. Maybe they would rake the leaves if you provided them a rake? And maybe they would be more willing to clean up pet messes if they were provided a cheap scoop? Just a thought!

9. Evidence of Undocumented Guests or Pets

pet-owners

Tenants are usually terrible at hiding the fact that they may or may not have an undocumented pet when the landlord shows up. The best place to look for evidence is animal poop in the yard. Another is left out food dishes and toys. Just keep an eye out for these things.

Pets aren't the only things tenants sneak into a home either. Undocumented guests can be a liability for owners, so ensure that everyone that resides there is annotated on the lease.

10. Pest Damage

Gophers, ground hogs, bats, spiders, snakes, bugs, you name it. Check for the things that might not always be so obvious. Our company spent $1,600 on the removal of a protected species of bat that had inhabited the home all because we didn’t fill one small gap with spray foam.

The apparent danger with the bats’ presence was the potential “bat-bug” infestation. Bat bugs are spread by bats and multiply quickly in residences, causing problems for tenants and costing big dollars to remove.

In Conclusion…

Check your properties, and make sure they are free and clear of things that shouldn’t be around for the safety and well-being of all tenants and guests.

Do you have any inspection items to add to this list?

Share with a comment below!

Ryan Sajdera is currently serving as active duty aviation officer for the United States Army. He is a combat veteran of Operation Resolute Support, having served in multiple regions of Afghanistan,...
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    Marvin Tu Homeowner from EASTVALE, California
    Replied 9 months ago
    Great post!! I had an leaky toilet in one of my rental's second floor for who-knows-how-long, which ended up in a expensive repair of over $5000 for mold treatment and replacing drywall and repainting on the walls directly below the bathroom. Definitely a hard earned lesson.
    Dave Rav from Summerville, SC
    Replied 9 months ago
    thanks for the overview. I think the A/C filter thing is the one everyone should have on their list as EVERY tenant I have ever had INFREQUENTLY changes the filter. I would suggest adding into the lease a fine, if the filter isn't changes q 3 months or better. When tenants rent from me, I even leave them a stack of filters. Not using a $3 filter could cost you thousands on HVAC (worst case) if the tenant never changes the filter.