Ask Lucas 030: How Do You Perform an Annual Property Inspection?
Brenda from Oregon is asking how to perform a yearly property inspection, and what to watch out for when communicating with tenants.
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Lucas: Hey what’s up everyone? Welcome to the 30th episode of Ask Lucas. Today, we’re answering a question from Brenda who’s asking, what’s the best way to perform a yearly property inspection? I’m Lucas Hall and this is a bite sized Q&A show were I answer your questions about landlording and property management. If you have a question, just leave a recorded message on AskLucas.com.
Ask Lucas is brought to you by Cozy which provides modern property management tools. Cozy let’s you screen tenants with full credit reports, and background checks, and let’s you collect rent online. It’s 100% free. It’s 100% intuitive, and I love it. I personally use it, myself, to manage all of my properties. My tenants love it too. In fact, I was looking at my balance sheet from last year, and I saved about $34,000 by using Cozy instead of hiring out a property manager. That’s it. Check it out. It’s Cozy.co. It’s C-O-Z-Y-.-C-O. All right, now here’s today’s question from Brenda.
Brenda: Hi Lucas. My name is Brenda, and I’m calling from Oregon. You have been such a wealth of information, and I so appreciate all that you do. You’ve been my guru with rental properties that I have. Have a question, though, and one of things that I’m uncomfortable about is doing yearly inspections. How do you go about that? I would appreciate any information that you can give me on that. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.
Lucas: Hey Brenda. Thank you so much for your question. The simple answer is, I don’t do annual inspections unless the tenants are actually renewing a lease, and they’re going to be there longer. I typically want to do a thorough inspection of the property once a year, but that will either come about through an annual yearly inspection for a renewal tenant. If they end up leaving at their lease time, then I can do a full, final, move-out inspection at that time. That accomplishes the same goal.
Other than that, I typically try to get over to my properties at least once a quarter, and I use maintenance reasons as an excuse, and it’s a legitimate thing. I typically have to go over and do something at most of my single family detached homes, once a quarter. I’ll use that opportunity to tell my tenants, “Hey, listen, I’m coming over to do x, y, or z. Let me know if there’s anything else you want me to look at, or anything that needs my attention.” I’ll give some examples. I’ll say, “Is anything not working the way you think it should?”, or “Is there anything that looks suspicious?” “Is there a leak in the ceiling, or you know, something that you just want me to look at. It may not be broken yet.” That also gives me the opportunity to look around. Sometimes I’ll just tell them, “Hey, listen, I’m going to do some inventory,” or “I’m just going to make sure that things in the kitchen are working the way I think they should.” I’ll looking around.
I never want to snoop. I never want to give the appearance of snooping. I want to respect their privacy, which is why I always give a full 24 hours notice even if, perhaps, your state law doesn’t actually require you to do so. Just keep them posted. Let them know what’s happening.
That way, if I get over there once a quarter, these annual inspections aren’t that big of a deal. If I do have a tenant who’s renewing an annual lease, I’ll get over there and make that part of the renewal process. I’ll say, “I’m so excited you’re renewing, and I’m looking forward to working with you for the next year or two. I want to just get over there and do a full inspection.” Just let them know it’s not for the purposes of withholding their deposits. It’s not for the purposes of penalizing them in any way. I’ll just say it’s just for me to get a good assessment of the condition of the property. More helpful than not, what usually ends up happening is I’ll be able to look at things, and I’ll be able to point out issues that I see coming down the road for them if they continue with their behavior.
Most tenants are clean, but typically I’ll have one or two tenants out of 10 that just never clean the shower, or they never clean a floor, or they just don’t even know that there’s something called Windex. That gives me an opportunity to keep a good tenant, but I can also say, “Hey, listen, if you don’t clean this shower, the mold’s going to get even worse, and I’m eventually going to withhold money from the deposit, when you finally move out, to hire a cleaning company if the grout can even be saved.” It’s a good way for me to just let them know this is coming if they don’t do something different.
I hope that helps. Good luck to you and your rental business. I’m so thankful for you and the fact that you get a lot out of this podcast. Thanks for participating, and good luck. Bye.