how often do you visit or inspect your rentals

17 Replies

In order avoid damage to rentals how often do you check on your properties during the lease term?

new renters - at least quarterly, monthly if you need more peace of mind

1-2 times per year after they've proven they take care of it

Some folks use changing the AC filters as an excuse to visit every 1-3 months

Depends on the property and the tenant. 

I always do a 90 day for new tenants. Then I'll do twice a year for iffy tenants and once a year for reliable tenants. I'll do spot checks for properties that have known issues such as a leaky basement after a major rainstorm

most of my properties are pretty. Lose to my home or on ny way home from work. I usually set up a rent box in the common basement and swing by to pick up the rent. That way I csn see the property and if I see the tenants I can check if there are any issues. If I get a feeling I will ask if I can take a quick walk through when I come to pick up the rent. So I am usually there monthly but inside at least once a year. my one property that is a little out of my way I get to about 3-4 times a year to walk through when checking on this or that.

@Steve Might  we do HVAC filter changes on about a monthly basis, and inspect the property at that time. Not just damage of a tenant nature, but safety and repair issues not related to damage such as leaky faucets, damaged shingles or siding, etc.

My "town" property includes lawn maintenance, so I can check on things when I do that. I also change the furnace filters & the smoke alarm batteries. It's not just to spy on tenants - it gives them a chance to tell me about anything that's loose, broken, peeling, etc. so that I can get repairs done right away. Saves having to do big stuff later. 

I do believe that if the landlord/owner shows that they care about the property & take time to keep it up, your tenants are much less likely to destroy it. No guarantees, of course!  

With new tenants, I check monthly with the HVAC filters. It is important to check faucets, leaky doors, windows. Also once a year to silicone around sinks/tubs. Probably more importantly safety items like hand rails, side walks and stairs. Remember that even with the best of tenant relationships, tenants usually feel like they may have done something wrong if something gets broken or worn out and be reluctant to tell you about it.

We try to check in on new tenants after 3 months, and go inside all properties annually.  One of the stats I keep track of is "last time inside".  We have started to schedule our inspections during the rainy season so we'd b e more likely to find any water issues, which complicates scheduling.  I've been trying to drive by all the properties monthly, but that is harder to be diligent about.  My husband sees it as my silly date night - grab a Starbucks and drive by the fronts and backs of all the properties.  Issues can crop up and take root with an "out of sight, out of mind" or "the rent is coming in so leave them be" mentality.

My contractor does as @Doug McLeod said - he changes the A/C filters quarterly, as we're out of state. The condos there in FL have the A/C running all year long.

For our 2 SFRs here in NJ, we generally inspect once or twice a year since we now have long term tenants in them. In the summer, our lawn guy cuts the grass in the backyard, and has to go through the house to do it (they're rowhouses). He's also the exterminator, and will give me a brief condition report. 

New tenants tend to call with a question or issue at least once a week for the first month, as they're getting familiar with the property, and my contractor can see how they're settling in.

The LLCs I manage have single family homes. Drove by one a few months ago just to check on it since I was in the area. As I am driving up I was wondering what I was going to be able to see anyway, it's a good tenant and unless she had lost her mind I didn't know what I'd see just from driving by....and I saw the neighbor had improperly routed a new buried downspout to dump water right at our driveway; I was able to tell because the grass leading up the driveway was still part dead. Called the city and they made them fix it; now it dumps out near their driveway.  Tenant noticed the work but didn't think anything of it. Had I not driven by at that time, I probably never would have figured out why there was going to be ice all over the bottom half of the driveway from the 2nd year of ownership on because I had never thought to take before pictures of the perimeter of the yard.

Originally posted by @Steve Might:

In order avoid damage to rentals how often do you check on your properties during the lease term?

 Good tenants are not going to damage your rental just because you're not there every day.  :)

Originally posted by @Dawn Anastasi:
Originally posted by @Steve Might:

In order avoid damage to rentals how often do you check on your properties during the lease term?

 Good tenants are not going to damage your rental just because you're not there every day.  :)

I agree with Dawn, but I have been asking the question of how often to inspect myself.


Are you against using a management company and keeping their feet to the fire.  I ask because, doing it all yourself, once your personal inventory grows, it that alone can become a full time job...

Other than that, I'd suggest not being a micro-landlord.  But don't let them abuse the place.  Schedule an apt every 6- - 90 days.  And if u can become friendly with your tenants - nothing wrong with stopping by to say hi now and again.

Last, upon a rental agreement, ask if they'll help u keep an eye on things for a small discount in rent.  Give them a checklist.  Worth $100 a month?

Good Luck....

Good tenants can absolutely damage your property. We spent about $7K in March of this year repairing the damage of a great tenant when he and his family moved out with 3 days notice. They had been great tenants for 2.5 years until he lost his job. Our contractor had been in the unit every few months, to fix the dryer, to change the A/C filter, etc.

The tenants were from the Sudan and had decorated the place like a casbah....tapestries hanging on the walls, heavy carpets, tons of knick knacks. Neither our contractor, nor my husband and I when we visited once a year, ever realized they had painted the walls gold, had installed a kitchen backsplash, had basically destroyed the carpeting (covered by a lot of heavy furniture), spray painted the patio, stained the kitchen cabinets, replaced a light fixture, and apparently never cleaned the kitchen, nearly ruining all the new appliances. 

We take the blame for not being aware of the condition. The rent was always paid on time, the tenants were always friendly and polite. Yet they caused more damage than the 3 tenants we've evicted over the years put together. 

Yep. During the periodic inspection it is sometimes hard to see the damages. Upon tenant move out we have discovered the holes in the walls and doors that were disguised by strategic placement of furniture and wall hangings. The stains in the carpet that were covered by area rugs. The cigarette burns on the fireplace mantle that were covered by pictures and knickknacks. Also, be aware of the home that is kept in the dark with curtains closed and lights that don't shine well. You may find soot, cigarette smoke, dirt and writing on the walls. Bring your flashlight. The list goes on. Unfortunately, inspections will only help so much. The key is getting a substantial security deposit also.

We do quarterly inspections to change the A/C filter, check for leaks and cracks in walls. Of course we are also doing a good look over each time as well. We do not allow tenants to do their own maintenance. This is the only way to keep an eye on the inside. We drive by the outside of the properties all the time (the advantage of owning locally) and check on the outside.

What do those of you do for rentals that only have baseboard heating and no A/C? I was thinking about doing a smoke alarm test every quarter, but thought they might try to just say "they'll do it and let me know". Or I could swap the batteries everytime? and just keep the same batteries so i'm not racking up battery costs?

I am doing quarterly inspections on my property until I can get a feel for my tenants and how well they take care of the place.  We will also change out furnace filters out at that time too.  I try to drive by the property at least once a week as well (easy since it's on my way home from work).  I also want to do the 3 month inspections as well due to the harsh Montana winters to ensure there are no leaks, etc.  I like being hands-on and don't mind doing me peace of mind.

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