Why You Should Do A Walkthrough of Your Rental Property Every 90 Days
Quarterly walk-through assessments can help eliminate not only the worry of owning rentals, but also the actual damage caused by a neglectful tenant. A walk-through assessment is not the same thing as the type of inspection done by a trained and licensed home inspector that is completed before the purchase of your rental property. Instead, a walk-through assessment quickly allows the owner to examine the inside and outside of the property to determine if the tenant is abiding by the terms of the lease and to catch any minor maintenance concerns before they become big problems. You or your property manager can easily conduct this type of walk-through.
Remember to give your tenant at least a 24-hour notice of the walk-through, and mention the items you will be checking (furnace filters, air conditioning, etc.) so the tenant is not surprised or alarmed. Without giving proper notice, you could be trespassing. Be courteous and respectful; after all, this is your tenant’s home. Make sure to ask your tenant if there is anything that needs to be repaired. This helps put your tenant at ease and shows them you have their best interests in mind and want to keep the home in good repair.
During the walk-through, you are trying to spot obvious areas of concern, not find the one outlet that does not work. At the same time, there is a delicate balance you must achieve. The Right to Quiet Enjoyment is a covenant that promises a tenant can possess the property in peace without disturbance with hostile claims. Basically this prevents you, the landlord, from coming onto the property without good reason. Coming on the property whenever you feel like it is not only potentially illegal, but is also simply bad ethics. With that said, keep your walk-through assessment brief and look for the following items:
- General cleanliness of the property
- Smells that do not fit with a clean property
- Unauthorized pets
- Unauthorized smoking
- Unauthorized modifications to the property
- Make sure all smoke alarms are functional
- Damages in walls or doors covered up by posters
- Dripping faucets or running toilets that raise the water bill
- Exterior doors that do not seal, resulting in high heat and A/C bills
Consistent walk-throughs will accomplish three important things:
1) Problem tenants are identified early, and the appropriate notices are sent in order to document any non-compliance events that take place in case an eviction becomes necessary or you end up in litigation.
2) Tenants understand that you are serious about maintaining the property, and you expect them to do the same.
3) Quarterly walk-throughs are a great way to identify maintenance items that need to be repaired. Unaddressed maintenance is one of the largest reasons for losing good tenants.