Haven't inspected my rental house for a looonnggg time...

32 Replies

I've had the same tenant in my SFR rental for years and years. He's not one to call me with any issues unless they are legitimate so I'm rarely there. It's been a few years since I've walked through the house. I've always felt like I was invading my tenants privacy by entering the house but after listening to so many property managers/landlords on the podcasts, I want to be more proactive in inspecting the house.

How do I change the tone after so many years of being very hands-off? I'd like to inspect the house and see what I'm looking at for either turning it over or flipping it in the Spring and know more about how long it will take him to move out since I'm not likely going to renew the lease.

@Matt Gilroy Tell him your doing a random check to look at smoke detectors, check furnance, and general inspection of property for your records. Say you would like to identify any issues now to offset future inconveniences for him. 

Be sure to offer it the tenant to purchase, he might be interested and that could save you time and money. Especially if you've taken good care of the home.

@Matt Gilroy

So he's going to know that something is up when you show up and start inspecting in the corners.

Do your inspection, mark off your checklist, and prepare for inevitable personality conflicts over nothing as the relationship shifts.

Showing up is one of the basic rules of self-managing your rentals, Matt. Keep the tenant aware that THEY are living in YOUR house. You cannot underestimate the irrational impact of the fact that a tenant is defined as someone who lives with the knowledge that his landlord owns the roof over his head. The concepts of home and hearth form a deep, integral part of human psychology. The landlord-tenant relationship is simply not all about bloodless logic and the simple exchange of money for a service or product. Shelter is one of the basic human needs, hardwired way down in the lizard brainstem.

You're showing up after years of allowing him to feed his innate tendency to believe that your place is his permanent home for many years, and at some point you're going to present him with the panic-inducing proposition that this is the end of his housing security -- you're not going to be renewing the lease.

Ideally, he'll get over it. But you're running a much higher risk than you should have that he will find some way to turn his terror at the proposition of being homeless after so many years of housing security to something he's more comfortable dealing with, resentment. And that could lead you into ugly places in the human psyche.

The milk has been spilled now, Matt. Good luck to you.

Just say that your insurance carrier wants you to do a safety inspection and to provide updated pics of the interior since it's been a few years.  Tell him you volunteered to take the pics instead of the insurance agent to minimize the inconvenience to the tenant.

You need to change your mindset. Obviously you need to respect your tenant and their space, but it's your responsibility to maintain the property for a number of reasons. Sounds like they've been a good tenant and you just want to make sure the property is being generally cared for? If so, just be honest with them. I'd call the tenant up and tell them that you want to up your game as a landlord, and part of that is making sure the place is a great home for them. You want to walk through to see what upgrades you can do, maybe get a couple rooms painted, some new carpet or a faucet. Any reasonable tenant would be happy to work with you on an inspection framed in that way. 

I'd say it's a furnace check up. Filters must be changed regularly and it's your furnace. If your tenant doesn't change filters it's like driving car never change oil.

It's ok for your Tenant but might kill your furnace.

How to explain that you never did yearly inspection? I don't know......but I'd definitely try to check out major maintenance items: HWT, furnace, A/C. 

It's better to check out before the heating season starts - so usually it's a good excuse to get inside with an inspection.

if he has been a good tenant as you described.. would it not be fair to let him know your not going to re do the lease ?

give him or her plenty of time to find a new home. ?

I dumped most of my rentals the last 2 years and one of my tenants did buy the home.. that saved me commish rehab and turnover costs etc etc.. of course I gave them a discounted price since I was saving so much money.. so I created a win win for that tenant..

I guess I see it differently than many.  First off, he has been a paying tenant for a number of years.... in the many stories I have read on BP, it seems there is plenty of cost every time you turn over a property, so if this tenant has been in place for so many years, you will have turnover costs anyway, but you have saved a ton not having them for all these years, so for the folks tearing your business practice apart, I'd say it has worked out thus far.

In regard to what to do... I'm with @Jay Hinrichs on this one.  Just tell him what you are thinking... if he/she is interested, maybe you can sell with much less hassle and at a savings.  If he/she is not, you are doing anything and everything to be open to help them find a new place after being in yours so long.  A third thought would be, pitch the property to another investor... you might be able to walk away with plenty of cash, the long term tenant may be appealing to another investor and it could be a win-win for everyone.

Wow. You are making way too much of this. Simply say "Hey favorite and most awesome tenant, it's been a really long time since I inspected your unit so I would like to schedule a time to get this done." Schedule it so they have time to pick up their underwear, put the bongs away and clean up the unit as they see fit to do so. This will ease any feelings of "intrusion" they may have and if not, that's their problem. A weeks notice is reasonable.

"What are you inspecting it for?"


Then when you get there, check for all safety issues first, functional issues second, cleanliness and aesthetics third. Replace all old detectors or at least put a fresh battery in. Make sure they have a fire extinguisher and it is not out of date. Make a list of any repair items and have a discussion about what you will repair, what you will not repair and how and when you intend to coordinate with them to get it done. After all that, then make notes of lease breaches and give them a verbal warning. Follow up the verbals with written as necessary. You provide a safe and decent place, they take care of it - that's the deal.

They will not be annoyed with you for this, they will be thrilled with you for this, because it means you are a landlord who actually cares about them and the property. If they are annoyed, then maybe you have the wrong sort of tenant - IMO.

@Matt Gilroy I think the best way to get resolution is a face to face (or telephone) conversation most people are easier to deal with and more understanding if you speak to them. It sounds like there may be common ground there or some sort of relationship based on how you described him in your initial post, give a conversation a shot, a resolution may be easier to reach than you think.

Good luck

@Matt Gilroy I’m upset that so many people here are telling you to lie, or to make up a reason. A few people have told you to be honest. To me, that is the only option. All of the people that are telling you to lie about it need to take a look at why they are shying away from being truthful and, honestly, it makes me question their character. You can be truthful and respectful of the tenants privacy and concerns. Allowing them to have notice will be beneficial to them and they will appreciate you caring for them so much. Make a reputation for yourself as someone that cares about his tenants and not as a liar.

Just text the tenants of my duplex. "I'll be doing my semi annual maintenance inspection soon. Please choose one of two dates that I am providing. Your presence is not necessary, but it could be helpful." It isn't about "catching" them violating the terms of the lease, or to necessarily see how they keep their (my) property. It is also to make sure I catch any problems early and fix them at low cost. If I had dozens of units, I would definitely want to know my Property Management Company was inspecting all units at least once a year. 

I put in my lease that the landlord will change the HVAC filters and test smoke/CO2 detectors every 90 days. This way I get to see inside just about every room, and I also make sure the HVAC is properly maintained. 

@Matt Gilroy It’s never too late to start. I started changing the air filters for my condos’ ACs and I would take time to scan around then and anytime a repair was needed my handyman would give me the scoop then too. But at the end of the day it’s still your property so I’ve started inspecting at least 2x a year with, of course, notice as specified in the lease agreement. You’re not infringing as long as you give them proper notice. They’re renting so it’s to be expected.
@Matt Gilroy why not just say “hey, it’s been a couple years and I‘d like to check in on the condition of the property. By the way, I’m thinking about selling, are you interested in purchasing or doing a lease option?” Why not just be honest? for me it would be way more work to come up with a “story” to stick too and knowing that I was deceiving them when it really isn’t needed. Now if this was a bad tenant who had a history of antics when you mentioned you wanted to sell, that would be different. Good luck!
@Dennis M. While this may be “our” property this is not “our” home. Informing them that I’ll be inspecting “my home” is belittling. I want my tenants to feel as if it is their home, to be comfortable, respectful and care for it as if they did own it. Don’t get me wrong, it is my property and I inspect them, I am careful with my word choice to reflect the situation. This situation doesn’t appear to need stronger word choices. IMHO