Are You Making a HUGE Mistake by Skipping This Vital Landlording Task?

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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.

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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.

So take the time to inspect or at least have someone inspect your properties for you at least twice per year.  It’s your investment.  Protect them!
Photo Credit: TranceMist

About Author

Kevin Perk

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in and manages rental properties in Memphis, TN and is a past president and vice-president of the local REIA group, the Memphis Investors Group.

17 Comments

  1. Awesome advice. I have a tale of two tenants in the same shared wall duplex. One is meticulous about cleaning and maintaining everything, the other is lazy, sloppy and calls me all the time with stuff broken that he did. (nice, right). For the lazy tenant, I stop in once a month to check on softener salt and change the furnace filter (which is added to their rent) and that gives me a chance to look around. I picked up this tip from a BP forum post–so thank you BP

  2. Great post, Kevin. I do quarterly inspections at my lower-end rental, and I always phrase it as a benefit for the tenant, rather than making it seem like an intrusion.

    I’ve also put in a note at lease signing detailing what the inspections entail, as well as a schedule for the upcoming year. While I always remind them well in advance of the visit, the original note serves as official notice in writing for those dates.

  3. very good advice i have seen many major issues upon spot inspections

    or when a tenant moves out.

    It is true some tenants will not call.

    even if something serious happen

    I put out a notice for tenants to fill out a form if anything is wrong some do not even bother to fill it out
    I will later find out there was some major issue
    that they needed addressing.
    so you definitely have to take the bull by the horns and see for yourself.

  4. Kevin,

    On top of the 6 month inspection (my coach recommends quarterly), I have one done if a tenant gets their notice to pay or quit, but then pays up. I want to know the status of my units and whether they are worth keeping as tenant. Turnover is far less costly then a bad tenant. If a tenant fails habitability, then they get a follow inspection or a notice of eviction depending on the damage or issues. Good tenants can go bad quickly. I have many single mothers in my units. Plenty of times their new boyfriend who is not on the lease can result in problems. This can also be discovered with water and power bills that seem to double. A quick inspection will confirm the new “tenant”.

    Jason

  5. Some tenants are afraid to tell the landlord that something needs fixing because they think the landlord will fix it…but then raise the rent. I make sure I tell my tenants during “orientation” that I don’t raise the rent to cover repairs. For the first few months I even text them right AFTER they pay the rent to ask if there is anything they have noticed that isn’t right or needs fixing.

  6. I just looked at a college rental where the caulk came loose from a tub, so all of the water was leaking through the 2nd floor and pooling in the ceiling. There was a large bubble of water held by nothing more than a stretchy layer of latex paint. The tenants clearly just ignored it, but I can see that getting out of control. The current owner lives several states away, and the neglect definitely showed.

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