If you’re the owner of a rental property or know someone who is, you might be aware of what a nightmare a bad tenant can be. Some rental owners assume that a tenant who regularly pays rent on time is a good one, only to discover when they move out that they’ve wrecked the place.
Tenants who severely damage a property can cost rental owners thousands of dollars over the term of a lease. One of the only ways to guard against surprise damages and hold tenants accountable for the condition of your property is to regularly inspect it. Inspections are an important part of property management.
Move-in and move-out
It’s imperative that any rental property be thoroughly inspected both prior to tenants moving into a unit and before moving out. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, any property management services must include move-in and move-out inspections.
Owners of rental properties, by law, are permitted to charge tenants for any damages beyond normal wear and tear, including cleaning charges if necessary. The only way to properly assess whether damage beyond wear and tear has occurred is to conduct thorough inspections of the property before the tenant moves in and right before they move out. Photos are helpful to record the condition of the property, and a good property manager will also use a checklist that covers every aspect of the space’s condition.
If you’re a rental owner seeking to withhold security-deposit funds from a tenant for damage or cleaning charges, you’re required to submit to the tenant an itemized list of what you’re withholding deposit funds for. The only way to properly execute an itemized list is to do a thorough walk-through inspection – ideally with the tenant – before move-in and move-out.
Don’t Break the Building Codes
As a rental owner, any lease agreement you enter with a tenant should include a provision that prohibits them from altering the property without your consent. Such a provision serves to protect you from expenses you might incur to restore the property to its original condition.
Every municipality has building codes, and as a rental owner, you don’t want to run afoul of those codes. However, tenants occasionally alter properties in ways that violate building codes, and the only way to stay on top of the situation is to conduct scheduled interior inspections. You’re required by law to give proper notice when entering a property inhabited by tenants, but it’s important to confirm that you need to inspect the property at least once a year. In some cases depending on the size and age of the rental property inspections may need to be scheduled more than once a year.
Code violations may include non-working smoke detectors, handrails on stairways, inefficient HVAC systems, and more. Codes vary by location, and you’ll need to know local regulations for wherever your properties may be. If, for example, you have a rental property in San Jose, a San Jose property management company should be familiar with the ins and outs of the building codes in San Jose.
Don’t Forget the Drive-by Inspection
Interior inspections must be arranged beforehand with tenants, but nothing is ever stopping a rental owner or their property management services from inspecting the property’s exterior from the street.
Doing a “drive-by inspection” of a rental property can reveal things such as missing roof shingles, broken windows, cracked pavement, neglected landscaping, and more. Your lease might require tenants to notify you of such things, but the reality is that not every tenant will let you know about every deficiency. The best way to ascertain the condition of your property’s exterior is to take an occasional look at it. If you’ve hired a reputable property management firm to manage your property, they will also likely perform drive-by checks on occasion.
Managing Your Investment Property
A rental property is a significant investment, and to protect that investment, inspections are required to maintain its condition. Most rental owners use the professional services of a property manager to ensure their investment property is properly maintained. If you own a rental property in San Jose or anywhere in Santa Clara County and need property management, contact Valley Management Group and get a free property management quote and one free month of services when you sign up.