A Landlord’s guide to property inspections

It’s natural that all landlords should want to make sure their properties are being looked after and kept in good condition. It’s therefore important to be conducting thorough property inspections that are in keeping with the law, to help achieve a harmonious relationship between landlord and tenants.

What’s the purpose of a property inspection?

The main (and most obvious) purpose of a property inspection is to check for any new signs of damage or deterioration, so that you can arrange to get things fixed where necessary. However, there are also other reasons to carry them out that may not be as immediately obvious, such as:

  • Checking the place isn’t being used for any illegal activities
  • Ensuring your tenants aren’t breaking any rules of the property, such as owning pets, smoking inside etc.
  • Checking in with your tenants to discuss any issues and maintain a positive relationship

The kind of things to look out for

Marks on the carpets, broken fixtures, and damaged walls are all possible issues to look out for. If damage to the property is found that goes beyond fair wear and tear, tenants can be charged to get it fixed. During a property inspection you can also identify problems that may be starting to creep in, such as mould, and take steps to stop them in their tracks.

How often should you conduct a property inspection?

If you’re renting out your property through a letting agent they may have their own protocol for how often they conduct inspections, in which case it will be out of your hands. If you’re doing them yourself however, it’s up to you how often you feel it’s necessary. This could range from one per year to one every few months.

Be careful not to overstep boundaries as a landlord

It’s important not to carry out property inspections too regularly however, as tenants are protected by the ‘covenant for quiet enjoyment’, which allows them to live in a property without being regularly bothered by their landlord. 

It’s also required that landlords give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before an inspection, to give them time to tidy up a bit and choose whether or not they want to be home. Landlords should always knock on the door rather than letting themselves in, and although it may seem obvious, inspections should take place at a reasonable hour of the day.

If tenants refuse entry

In some rare cases, tenants may refuse entry to their landlord, in which case you cannot enter the premises, as forceful entry is only allowed in case of an emergency, such as a gas leak or fire. 

Your best option in this case is to make your tenants aware that they will be responsible for paying for any damage to the property that happens due to you being unable to carry out repairs, and that if they are injured due to any issues making the property unsafe you cannot be held liable. You can then choose not to renew their tenancy when the time comes, and although this can be a frustrating situation it’s important to abide by the law to respect your tenants’ rights and avoid legal issues.

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