Inspections of rental units can be a tricky situation. When letting a property to someone, you want to ensure the property is maintained and in good repair, but you also do not wish to infringe upon your tenant’s privacy.
So, what’s the correct answer? How often should you inspect the property you’re letting? Unfortunately, there is no right answer, but you could follow some general guidelines that might help.
Let’s get into it.
Why Should You Inspect Your Rental Units?
The primary purpose is to assess a rental property’s overall condition to ensure everything is in good working order and in a reasonable state, both interior, and exterior.
Generally speaking, if a tenancy is going to go wrong, it’s likely to do so in the first three to six months. Also, from the tenant’s perspective, the first few weeks are when they will have questions and need the most support.
So, it’s a good idea to make regular visits to ensure everything is going smoothly in the beginning.
Beyond that, it’s recommended for landlords to conduct a property inspection once every quarter. If you’ve had numerous positive inspections from the same tenants, then you could reduce this to every six months.
Although it is essential to conduct regular inspections of rental properties, it is critical not to conduct too many inspections.
For example, inspecting the home every month could be considered harassment. In most cases, there is no need to inspect a property more regularly than once a quarter unless there are maintenance issues and simple repairs that require attention.
Inspecting one month before the tenants are due to move out of the property is also recommended because it provides landlords with the opportunity to detect any concerns that might create problems at the end of your agreement.
Highlighting these issues in advance before the tenant moves allow tenants to repair anything they are responsible for, ensuring that all final bills are settled, and keys are returned. Otherwise, there could be possible deductions to their deposit or new charges issued.
Ultimately, you want to reduce the potential for dispute and avoid any delays for new tenants moving into the property.
You’ll also want to conduct a mid-term inspection once your tenant has lived in the property for a minimum of three months and create thorough inventory reports.
Inspections provide landlords with a good idea of how the tenants are treating the property. If any maintenance issues require attention or suggestions should be made to the renters, a mid-term inspection provides this opportunity. Minor maintenance issues, such as fixing light switches or door handles, can also be conducted at this stage to avoid them escalating into significant repair jobs.
As part of an inspection, a landlord has the right to take photographs of evidence presenting issues, such as:
- Inadequate cleaning or a build-up of rubbish that could cause a vermin infestation
- Unauthorized painting or decorating
- Unauthorized pets or tenants
Inspections are essential for assessing the tenants’ living conditions and discovering if there are any immediate causes for worry, such as illegal activity. They are also great opportunities to decide if you want to extend the current tenancy when it comes to an end and even build a good relationship with your tenant.
With protection being provided under new eviction legislation, known as Retaliatory Eviction, landlords must be aware of the condition of their rental properties at regular intervals. This new law was passed in 2019 under The Deregulation Act.
However, landlords must also protect the tenant’s right to peace and quiet; this is a necessary and fundamental right for tenants, ensuring they can live in a property without unnecessary intrusion or interference.
Why Are Inspections Necessary?
We’ve already covered some of the reasons why inspections are necessary, but let’s break down some common issues to get a better understanding of their importance.
What should you be looking out for?
- Repairs and maintenance issues
- Living conditions
- Illegal activities
When looking for potential repairs, you should inspect:
- Condensation mould around the windows, ceilings, and corners of rooms
- Fixtures and fittings being in good working order
- The garden is clean and not overgrown
- Any leaks, holes, rodents, or any illegal farms in the loft
- Any damage that is beyond fair wear and tear
Inspections may seem like a headache, but they can be fundamental in establishing a stress-free tenancy and profitable business. They can help build a good relationship with your tenants and that makes everything easier, including the arrangement of inspections and repairs.
How Do You Give Tenants Notice for a Property Inspection?
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 s11 gives the landlord the right to enter the premises to view the “condition and state of repair.”
However, you can not just show up unannounced. There are rules to be followed, such as:
- The inspection must be conducted at “reasonable times of the day”
- The landlord/agent must give 24 hours written notice
- If someone other than the landlord or agent is going to do the inspection, then that person should be authorized in writing
For example, if the tenant works night-shifts, then 9 am is not likely a “reasonable time of day,” even though it is for you. In this situation, you simply need to make arrangements with the tenant for a time that works for them.
What Do I Do If The Tenant Refuses Entry?
This can be a difficult situation. There could be many reasons for a tenant to refuse entry.
An inspection can feel quite intrusive and tenants might not feel comfortable with strangers walking around their home, especially if they are not present. They might also be refused access due to illegal activities.
All tenants are essentially entitled to live in “quiet enjoyment,” meaning that you or your agent must seek their permission before entering the property.
If they refuse access, the first thing to do is to ask why. If they want to be present, simply arrange a time that’s suitable for them.
If you have been unable to access the property with your tenant’s permission, you may make an application to the court for an injunction. This will give you a court order granting you landlord rights to enter the property without your tenant’s permission. If your tenant has been unreasonably refusing access, the costs you incur in getting the court order may be recoverable from them.
You could also serve a Section 21 and repossess your property. If your tenant refuses you reasonable access, you probably don’t want them as tenants anymore.
A great resource if you’re unsure of what to do is contact your local Citizens Advice for free legal advice.
Property inspections can be one of the least fancied duties of being a landlord, but they are also one of the most important factors in renting a property and should never be overlooked.
Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants is vital and will make everything easier, including your quarterly inspections.
Knowing your rights and your tenant’s rights when it comes to access can help build a positive relationship while ensuring your tenants’ safety and property maintenance.