As landlords, our greatest and most valuable assets are our properties.
Unlike other investment vehicles, such as stocks, we can directly affect the value and performance of our assets. We can actively participate to make our assets stronger and more valuable. And one of the most important things we can do are routine property inspections.
You might think that your tenants or your property manager will be your eyes and ears. Honestly, many will be. They will tell you when something is wrong. They will call you when the roof or the kitchen sink springs a leak.
But others will not. Some tenants simply do not know what to look for or know that something is broken. They may never look under their sink and see that steady drip. Some tenants, I just do not know what they were thinking. Perhaps they did not want to “bother” me. Perhaps they did not want me to “bother” them. Some property managers will take a more active role than others. Others can be so overwhelmed that they do not have time.
While inspecting my properties I have found roof leaks that had been going on for months. Another time the heat had been out for weeks and the tenant was using the stove for heat. Why would you not call us in the middle of winter when your heat is out? Once we discovered the problem we had the heat fixed in 24 hours. Why would you not call about a roof leak? Who knows?
These examples could have turned into major problems fairly quickly and demonstrate that you can’t always rely on others to protect your investment like you would. Ask yourself, would you like to spend a little time and effort now to find a $50 leak or wait until it turns into a several thousand dollar problem?
As an added bonus, inspections keep your tenants honest and adhering to the rules. Because they know you are going to check on things every once in a while.
Here are a few pointers to remember regarding property inspections.
- Have a clause in your lease allowing for property inspections.
- Try to get by every 6 months or so. Little problems can become large rather quickly. I like to at least drive by even more frequently.
- Give the tenant at least 48 hours if not more advance notice. Remember this is someone’s home you are going into. Be respectful.
- Be quick, be thorough and get out. Again this is someone’s home, be respectful.
- Perform a quick visual inspection of the walls, floors, HVAC, electrical and plumbing. Change the HVAC filter. Look under the sinks and toilets for leaks. Bring batteries for the smoke detectors.
- Look around outside and check the grounds and roof.
- If you see and tenant violations, make a note follow up later.