How to inspect your property

How to inspect your property

Property inspections are part and parcel of being a residential landlord, but what should you be looking for? From smoke alarms to leaky pipes, ensure you don’t miss anything out with our handy guide.

We recommend carrying out property inspections within a month of the tenant moving in and then every six months. At the start of the tenancy make sure the tenant has been advised in writing that you will be organising regular visits so that they know to expect these. Before arranging an inspection, check the minimum notice that you need to give to access the property and advise the tenant in writing (such as email), that you would like to arrange a visit. Agree a day and time when the tenant can be there, ideally when it is light so that you can easily inspect both the interior and exterior of the building.

Please note, you have to have the tenants’ consent to attend an appointment. If the tenant fails to respond, you cannot just attend and let yourself in as this could pass as harassment.

General condition

Your main priority is probably to check the general condition of the whole property, including the fixtures and fittings, the condition of the roof and even the garden. Inspections are an opportunity to check that everything is in order, that there is no damage and that your tenant is looking after your property.

Roof and guttering

Most landlords do not even think to check the general state of the roof or the guttering; however, most water overflows come from the guttering which can easily get blocked by fallen leaves.

Safety features

Check smoke alarms, appliances and sockets and take the opportunity to ask tenants if all is well. Check walls for any cracking in case it is a sign of subsidence.

Damp and mould

Some tenants won’t make you aware of dampness or mould, but if left unchecked it can cause structural issues and be detrimental to your tenants’ health. Check around the windows and sinks, paying particular attention to moisture-prone rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens. Check any fans to make sure they are working, especially in the bathroom if there is no window.

Leaks and rot

Check pipework around basins, sinks and toilets, as this is where leaks are likely to cause problems such as rot. It is also important to check the drainage for blockages and to make sure that water does not overflow. Blockages are the most common cause of water damage. Most landlords assume blockages are covered by their landlord insurance, but this is not the case if the tenants are putting sanitary towels, grease or other substances down the toilet. Finally, check for leaks in the loft and attic where boilers are usually stored.

Gas safety

You must complete yearly checks at 12-month intervals and provide copies of the most recent gas safety certificates to tenants. Checks must be carried out by a registered gas fitter or engineer.

HMO fire safety

If the property is a large house in multiple occupation (HMO), check there are adequate working fire extinguishers and ensure that there is a carbon monoxide alarm in every room for properties with a solid fuel burning appliance.

Refer to your records

Take along the inventory report so that you can compare the condition/damage and keep records of inspections, including photographic evidence to show what has been identified and fixed, along with dates of every inspection and notes on the property’s general condition.

What to do next…

  • Make sure tenants sign and date your interim inspection report to agree that they are happy with the findings
  • Rectify any defects you find as soon as possible to avoid complications or complaints
  • Remember to be open and communicate with the tenants – ask them if they have spotted any issues and offer them the opportunity to be present at the inspection

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We recommend landlords take the opportunity of an inspection to do the following:

1. Confirm that your tenant’s personal details are still the same
For example contact numbers/email address/employment details. This means if your tenants leave suddenly, you have captured updated information. It is worth adding a clause to your tenancy agreement stating that tenants should inform you if their details change.

2. Always take your duplicate set of keys
Even if the tenant is home when you inspect the property, it is a good idea to ask if you can check that they fit the lock. It is a breach of tenancy if the tenant changes the locks, so you can remind the tenant that this is the case. You should request a copy of the updated keys or ask the tenant to change the locks back to the original lock so that you have access to the property in an emergency.

3. Make a note of the current utility suppliers
It is not unheard of for tenants to put their landlord’s name on bills to avoid paying them. Agents or landlords who are not on top of this get duped easily. Making sure that the tenants sign and date the interim inspection report on every visit will act as proof that they were in occupation, and responsible for the bills during their tenancy.

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