The annual rental property inspection is a landlord responsibility that benefits both the property owner and the tenant. These inspections are general in nature, but important to ensure lease compliance and proper care of the rental property. Let’s look at a general approach to conducting an annual rental property inspection, items to focus on during the inspection, plus a few general inspection tips. We’ll also look at why a landlord might want to outsource inspections.
Every property is different, but whether you have a single family rental or a two hundred unit multi-family complex, following the five simple steps outlined below will make the inspection process efficient and effective.
Step 1: Customize a detailed inspection checklist for the specific property.
Step 2: Schedule the inspection and provide tenants with proper notification.
Step 3: Conduct the inspection and complete a report.
Step 4: Implement corrective actions as necessary.
Step 5: Inspect corrective actions (e.g. a repair) completed by contractors.
Inspection checklists should focus on items that are important to the health and welfare of the tenants and that protect the owner’s investment. General areas of inspection should include:
Occupants Confirm that all who reside in the property are either tenants or residents listed in the lease. Look for unauthorized sublets and instances of overcrowding.
Vehicles Cars regularly garaged/parked on the property should be listed in the tenant’s rental application and/or lease and should have current registrations. Verify that vehicles are not causing damage, such as oil dripping on the garage floor, driveway or parking space and damage to walls or posts due to careless parking.
Exterior Inspect for damage to structure exteriors, the presence of trash on the ground and open trash and recycling containers. Grounds should be properly maintained, whether by the landlord or the tenant per the lease, including clipping of greens (grass, shrubs, trees) and clearing of gutters and drain pipes.
Property Inventory Visually inspect all personal property items provided by the landlord and identified in the lease, such as appliances (clothes washer, dryer, counter top microwave oven), garage door openers and fire extinguishers.
Interior Inspect general condition of walls, floors, windows and window coverings, light switches, power outlets, doors and locks. If the tenant has replaced any locking door knobs or dead bolts or has added a locking door knob to a door that previously didn’t have a lock, make sure they provide a key. Landlords should have keys to every door on their property.
Systems Test systems to confirm proper operation: heating, air conditioning, water heater, smoke alarms, lawn sprinklers, etc. Check consumable items that should be replaced periodically, such as water filters in refrigerators with ice makers, furnace filters and smoke alarm batteries.
Note: Inspections of the physical property as noted above are cursory. For a detailed inspection, consider having a licensed general property inspector present during the inspection.
General Inspection Tips
- Be firm with inspection dates – don’t allow tenants to avoid inspection by denying lawful entry.
- Complete any previously-identified repair actions before the inspection.
- Complete the checklist during the inspection and have the tenant sign it if they are present.
- Take pictures of everything – not just problems. When possible, bring someone to take pictures as you inspect.
- Prepare a report for the tenant/property file that includes the completed checklist and photos.
- If there is a question regarding condition or proper operation of any property feature or system, call in a specialist for a more complete inspection (plumber, electrician, etc.).
- If tenants in violation of any section of their lease, provide written notice of the violaton and follow up in accordance with terms of the lease and all applicable laws.
- If the inspection identifies the need for repairs, schedule repairs as soon as possible and re-inspect when complete.
Outsourcing The Annual Rental Property Inspection
Out-of-town owners and busy landlords often find that having a third party conduct their annual rental property inspection is cost effective and a preferred method for dealing with tenants – whether the tenants are cooperative or resistant to having the rental inspected. Bringing in a third party adds a heightened level of importance to the inspection and non-compliance resolution process.
We provide annual rental inspection services for residential properties at a fixed price or hourly rate. We also provide special inspections when the owner or landlord is concerned with the condition of the property or has unresolved issues with problem tenants (see Problem Tenant Services). Use Contact Us or call John at (707) 317-0280 with questions or for service anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.