How often are you expecting Property Managers to walkthrough

40 Replies

Let's say you have your property, and everything is going according to plan with your REI. How often do you want your PA doing a walkthrough of your tenant occupied units? Is this allowed? If so, is there a difference between PA's in regards to visiting tenants proactively?

I would imagine, and respect the fact that tenants have a right to their privacy.. HOWEVER, as the property owner I would want to ensure my investment is being taken care of. Not to mention notice any potential problems before they happen. I would just like to know what proactive steps can my PM do and what is the typical expectation?

Thanks BP!

What does your lease say about owner/PM inspections?  A landlord/PM has the right to be at the property (exterior) at any time.  I drive-by mine and my clients' properties on a routine and regular basis.  The tenants are use to seeing me around and it's a friendly exchange when we do see each other.  As far as interior inspections, our lease contracts state how much notice will be given but does not stipulate how often.  Twice annually should be a minimum in my opinion.  I find that most PMs and owners do not do them at all.  

Having said this, I do respect the property as the tenant's home - and I call it that when visiting.  And, I want them to remember that someone else invested a whole lot more than they are paying in rent to purchase and maintain it. Respecting the property is non-negotiable.  Inspections support that message.  

So check your lease first - and then make sure your PM agreement stipulates your expectation for completion/documentation.

@Dennis A Higgs Jr I think @Patricia Steiner hit a lot of the core aspects. If you have a PM or are vetting one make sure to understand the expectation on property walks. Understand how often they will occur, how they will be documented, and how the information from those walks will make it to you. Similar to Florida, twice annually is the norm in NJ. 

Also make sure to check with your tenant-landlord laws. Some states may have restrictions on how frequently or how much notice in advance you need to provide when walking a property.

Bi-Annually with stipulations for more common inspections for w/e reason you decide. IE If there are complaints, code violations, a walk through should be allowed. Don't annoy your tenants but don't destroy a year or two worth of cash flow by letting tenants wreck the place. 

@Dennis A Higgs Jr

My lease states a full Maintenance Inspection will be performed every 6 months. I notify my tenants 2-3 weeks in advance with usually 2 options for dates and time. I would be lenient if they had company during those two choices, but it would be scheduled for close to the same timeframe. I tell them they do not have to be present, but it could be helpful if they would like to report a specific issue.

for me if I jumped back into rentals depending on what class they were.. 

for C class where the tenant basically wont do anything proactive

I would do it quarterly  that your changing filters checking smoke detectors  and our going to pay to replace light bulbs.. I would pay the PM a quarterly fee to do this  @James Wise  

Good stuff. Thanks everyone for the feedback. Looks like the consensus is approx twice/ year minimum. Most importantly what is in lease, and what conversations im having with my PM. I will certainly take advice and check tenant/ landlord laws @Mike Bonadies . Makes perfect sense to have in agreements beforehand @Patricia Steiner .

@Ronald Starusnak .. such a good point; in fact one of my bigger fears is to scare away a good tenant while at the same time protecting my investment.

@Anthony Wick .. fair point! Never considered the tenant may have valuable feedback for me about area, property, and/or the property manager themselves. I might even use these as sort of a skip level, town hall like session.

@Jay Hinrichs .. quarterly? That seems excessive?! Maybe monthly or quarterly property drivebys to check exterior but I don't know how I feel about interior walk through every quarter. Appreciate your feedback however!

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

for me if I jumped back into rentals depending on what class they were.. 

for C class where the tenant basically wont do anything proactive

I would do it quarterly  that your changing filters checking smoke detectors  and our going to pay to replace light bulbs.. I would pay the PM a quarterly fee to do this  @James Wise 

 We offer a unit inspection with a change of the batteries, filters etc to investors as many or as few times as they would like. Surprisingly or maybe not so surprisingly few ever purchase it. Everyone talks about how important it is to make your property manager watch your tenants like a hawk until they realize there is a cost associated with that level of service. Then it just gets tossed out the window.

Originally posted by @James Wise :
Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs:

for me if I jumped back into rentals depending on what class they were.. 

for C class where the tenant basically wont do anything proactive

I would do it quarterly  that your changing filters checking smoke detectors  and our going to pay to replace light bulbs.. I would pay the PM a quarterly fee to do this  @James Wise 

 We offer a unit inspection with a change of the batteries, filters etc to investors as many or as few times as they would like. Surprisingly or maybe not so surprisingly few ever purchase it. Everyone talks about how important it is to make your property manager watch your tenants like a hawk until they realize there is a cost associated with that level of service. Then it just gets tossed out the window.

YUP  it depends on the asset class and tenant base for sure..  but you let these properties go without inspections and your going to have a massive head ache on your hand at turn over time..  its just preventive maintenance and these types of properties folks just don't realize this is not being a landlord or normal PM this is ASSET management.. when your tenant not only wont do anything proactive and creates a lot of damage.. you let it do on and on.. your screwed.. this is why on the flip side on BP we see hey my tenant did 4k in damage.. well that did not happen over night.. 

And maybe for the first year or two if inspections come back clean each time you go to semi annual.  

Like I always say its the owners who are their own worse enemies they sit there and fixate on % returns while the village is burring down around them.  if you put 20 to 25% down on a rental that your not personally managing .. then a break even on cash flow is a great outcome.. but when your cheap.. your end up getting burnt badly in these assets.

Originally posted by @Anthony Wick :

@Dennis A Higgs Jr

My lease states a full Maintenance Inspection will be performed every 6 months. I notify my tenants 2-3 weeks in advance with usually 2 options for dates and time. I would be lenient if they had company during those two choices, but it would be scheduled for close to the same timeframe. I tell them they do not have to be present, but it could be helpful if they would like to report a specific issue.

when I used to do this for a living.. this was what we did  you had to.. the little drip under the sink becomes dry rot.. 

the toilet gets loose and you have subfloor issues..  catch them just starting to treat the unit like crap you nip it in the bud.. 

once U get a base line on a particular tenant then U can modify either for frequently or less..  

but to just stick them in there and never check.

your going to have filters never changed and maybe ruin your HVAC.. your going to have water leaks that cause dry rot..

your probably going to have plumbing issues.. you have a tiny leak in the roof and next thing you know mold behind the walls.

you catch them putting sheets in the window or even worse  Aluminum foil which creates moisture and moisture damage and mold.

I can go on and on.. this is the benefit of self managing.. and if your not.. then pay your PM to stay on top of these folks. its money well spent.. both for peace of mind and your pocket book long term.

My A class new construction that rented at 1400 to 1700 which was the very tippy top of the market.. I did not have to go that far.. although I did have one do 40k in damage one time.. destroyed the house.. and it was only 2 years old..  it was obvious willful distruction that my insurance company paid 30k of it and went after the tenant criminally ..  

@Dennis A Higgs Jr As long as you plan on paying for your property managers time and are willing to remedy any issues that he finds or the tenants bring up to him while he is there I do not see anything wrong with doing this twice per year.

Tenants are big "well, while your here (insert maintenance request here)" type people though. So expect there to be maintenance issues brought up on top of your managers unit inspection. Things tenants would never contact the manager to fix will get brought up if they are face to face with them.

Originally posted by @Dennis A Higgs Jr :

@Jay Hinrichs

Duly noted. Good points. Maybe enough to even change my mind and agree to quarterly! Lol.. thanks again

lets look at this logically.. your a new or beginning landlord your going to be in this business ( it is a business its not passive) long term so you invest 100k into a property.. you have put up your cash you have signed on a loan .

and now instead of paying a few hundred a year to make sure your tenant is not abusing your house.. you do nothing and then hope for the best.. but if you pay 200 to 300 a year for inspections etc.. that goofs up your return its just went from 8% to 7% and of course if you thought you were only going to get 7% you would not take on real estate rentals and the risk associated to your capital and credit.. 

now again this makes the assumption of life long renters in rental dominated areas and basically C class tenants.. 

you move up in the asset class's or your tenants are in a part of the world were they are kinder on homes and they are not lifers.. thing get less risky. 

Originally posted by @Dennis A Higgs Jr :

@Jay Hinrichs

Geez @ the $40k damage. You definitely bring up good points and I have to respect your experience. How much time in advance did you notify tenants? Or was it more of a recurring pattern... such as first week of the following months etc. etc.

 pretty much every state has a 24 or 48 hour notice. but most tenants are fine because they know your going to do something for free for them..  if they wont let you in.. then that's a big red flat.

Originally posted by @Michael Noto :

@Dennis A Higgs Jr As long as you plan on paying for your property managers time and are willing to remedy any issues that he finds or the tenants bring up to him while he is there I do not see anything wrong with doing this twice per year.

Tenants are big "well, while your here (insert maintenance request here)" type people though. So expect there to be maintenance issues brought up on top of your managers unit inspection. Things tenants would never contact the manager to fix will get brought up if they are face to face with them.

 that is certainly true and the flip side.. what some of my guys did when stuff like that came up they would just say we handle at lease renewal  knowing that the average tenant only stays 18 months.. you push if off.. if its not creating more damage like leaky pipe etc. 

Originally posted by @Michael Noto :

@Dennis A Higgs Jr As long as you plan on paying for your property managers time and are willing to remedy any issues that he finds or the tenants bring up to him while he is there I do not see anything wrong with doing this twice per year.

Tenants are big "well, while your here (insert maintenance request here)" type people though. So expect there to be maintenance issues brought up on top of your managers unit inspection. Things tenants would never contact the manager to fix will get brought up if they are face to face with them.

 Great point. The well why you're here stuff is very common.

Originally posted by @Dennis A Higgs Jr :

@Jay Hinrichs

I'm sold!

Not trying to sell U on anything at one time I owned 350 C class units in 4 states..  I no longer own any.. LOL.. 

A and B sure C class life long renters section 8 you have to really want that stuff.. and or you have to hand it over to a very strong PM who is in the no BS zone..  

its just too disheartening for me I go out have well over 15 million in debt to acquire all these plus millions I cash.. only to have every single day get a report of condenser stolen.. house stripped..  NO pay.. evictions etc.   

not he best use of our capital.. by a long shot.. I too drank the return coolaid.. but the returns in these assets class's never materialize at that scale..  And I am sure there are just others that were far better at landlording than me.. 

One I am inherently to nice..  and I guess kind of naïve  I fell for every story line that these folks can come up with.. 

I was just interviewed last week from the IRS criminal division on a operator they are going after.. and that is one thing I brought up.

I said this operator never dealt in this asset class.. so he started robbing peter to pay paul and now finds himself in deep trouble.. And the IRS agents who deal all across the board just looked at me and smiled and agreed.. they know.  

@Jay Hinrichs

Sheesh. That's crazy. I can only imagine the experience and stories I'll come across in the coming future! Hence the reason I'm loving hearing and reading the forum section here on BP. Have to take the good with the bad, right?! I can respect both the pros/ cons of REI without a doubt.. I'm still in the research stages, learning terminology, getting my RE license, attending seminars, attending REIAs meetups, etc. Thank you for sharing your expertise (and some horror stories)

@Dennis A Higgs Jr

Because I do pet friendly units almost exclusively, monthly for the first 3 months, then quarterly. No exceptions. They get the required 24hr notice and regardless of circumstances it happens the next day. If they refuse, eviction is served. If they request another time, it is politely declined.

I recently opened a PM firm in Charleston, SC - we perform interior inspections every six months and exterior viewings monthly. No extra charge for the Inspection - it is part of our 10% management fee. All inspections are documented electronically, and uploaded to owner portal for immediate review.

We appreciate the 'while you're here...' conversations with tenants. Would prefer they tell us things rather than hide them. Granted, not everything on the tenant's list can or should be addressed, but we like to know as much about the property as we can.

I have my own investment properties, and would be dissatisfied with a PM that wasn't performing regular inspections. They are absolutely necessary.

@Anthony Wick

I like your strategy and as a renter myself, I wouldn’t mind it at all if it was phrased like this.

Our initial lease stated that they could do inspections quarterly. A lot of leases state that but I’ve NEVER had a landlord actually do it. These people wanted to do it more often than is allowed and I finally told them no and told them quarterly are these dates: x, y, z remaining in the lease term. It was very awkward to just have someone walk around our house looking at stuff and truthfully I have no idea what they were looking for.

When we renewed they dispensed with the inspection clause, thank goodness. It really just felt like invasion of privacy and trying to catch us doing something wrong.

But if it was phrased like you said as a maintenance inspection, that would make me feel more comfortable, and every 6 months is more reasonable than quarterly.

All that said, we became landlords unintentionally when we had to move out of state. I wish we had done some kind of inspections bc our initial tenants absolutely trashed the place just due to their lifestyle and cost us about $15k. Second tenants had holes in the walls, an exterior door they had busted in, wood floors ruined. Several grand more to fix that up. It would have cost less to fly down every six months to take a look.

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