Routinely inspecting the properties you manage is an effective way to keep tenants compliant and stay on top of maintenance needs. That said, there’s a fine line between being a responsible property manager and being nosy and intrusive. Overstepping that line could lead to tenant turnover and possibly even legal problems.
Below are a few do’s and don’ts to help landlords and property managers strike a healthy balance.
DO have a legitimate reason. Your tenants will be much more cooperative and understanding if they know the reason why you are conducting an inspection. There are three common and acceptable reasons why a landlord or property manager might need to inspect a property. They are as follows:
- Routine home inspections (quarterly/seasonally/annually)
- Safety inspection (change smoke alarm batteries, replace fire extinguishers, etc.)
- Pest control and infestations
DON’T show up unannounced. Unless there’s an emergency, like a burst pipe, you should always provide your tenants with ample notice prior to carrying out an inspection. And it’s not just out of courtesy, either. There are actually laws, rules and regulations in place regarding how much notice is required and how that notice should be given, so familiarize yourself with what’s expected in your geographic area.
DO be professional and accommodating. Understand that you may need to be flexible when scheduling inspections. Be willing to work with your tenants to choose a day and time that is convenient for both of you. For instance, you might have to conduct inspections after business hours if the tenant will be at work during the day. The more you are willing to compromise, the more cooperative your tenants will be.
DO be prompt. Nobody wants to sit around all day waiting for their landlord to show up and do an inspection. Be respectful of your tenants’ time and adhere to the schedule you’ve set. Show up when you say you will and be diligent about getting the inspection done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
DON’T overdo it. Wanting to protect your investment or that of your client is understandable, but tenants are entitled to privacy and quiet enjoyment of their home. This means you should minimize the number of times you disrupt their lives for an inspection. Once or twice a year should be sufficient, but certainly no more than quarterly. Put yourself in their shoes. If it would be annoying to you, then it’s probably annoying to them as well.
DO use property management software. As your portfolio grows, keeping up with inspections becomes increasingly challenging. Utilize technology to help streamline the process, from scheduling and reminders to documentation and follow-up. This will make things tremendously easier for you and also keep your tenants adequately informed so there are no unexpected surprises.
At the end of the day, the question is whether a landlord or property manager can and should conduct inspections, but rather how they can do so in a way that protects and benefits all parties involved. By following the above list of do’s and don’ts, you’ll be able to keep your properties well-maintained without causing any undue frustration to your tenants.