A critical mistake we advise rental property investors NOT to make, is placing a tenant and then forgetting about the property. In this blog, we will cover the best practices for inspecting occupied rental properties. Not only will we cover what to look for in these inspections, but also the frequency we recommend to ensure your property is being taken care of while not infringing on your tenant’s rights.
When conducting an occupied rental property inspection, we advise our property owners to check for these four things:
- Evidence of unauthorized pets
If your lease states that pets are not allowed, or your tenant has told you they’re moving in without pets, you'll want to check for evidence of unauthorized pets at your inspection. Pet hair, food bowls, or litter boxes may indicate that your tenant is a new pet owner. If pets are not allowed in your unit, be sure to understand how best to handle that kind of lease violation. Or if your policies are to charge pet rents or fees, be sure to collect on these upon learning about the pet on your property.
- Evidence of illegal activity
Especially in Colorado rental property, landlords should be looking for illegal activity such as the cultivation of legal marijuana when inspecting their rental properties. In our experience, tenants may use basements or garages for this type of illegal use and it’s in your best interest as the property owner to be checking for this and handling any situations that may arise appropriately.
- Deferred maintenance items
Deferred maintenance may not necessarily be the responsibility of your tenant, therefore routine inspections are a good opportunity for you to periodically check the property for any maintenance needs you as the owner may need to address.
- Tenant neglect
Tenant neglect is one of the main reasons we conduct occupied rental property inspections. Having a presence on your property can help to eliminate major damage or catch issues while they are still manageable. It also establishes your care of the property with your tenant, dissuading potential damage. If you notice significant damage during the inspection, you may choose to move the tenant out. Again, be sure you know how to properly address these sorts of issues and handle them accordingly.
Many of the problems that may arise during a routine occupied property inspection can be avoided by doing your diligence upfront. Quality tenant screens and background checks can help to eliminate tenant neglect issues down the line which is why thorough due diligence is so important.
Routine inspections are a great idea for a number of reasons. At this time, you can either remind your tenant (or do so yourself) to change their furnace filters, carbon monoxide (CO) detectors batteries, and smoke detector batteries. It’s also a good way to foster the relationship with your tenants, which can help you retain quality tenants for lease renewals down the line.
At the core, communication is the key to success with your tenants. Be transparent with your prospective tenants from the very inception of your relationship. Let them know you will be conducting routine inspections. Not only does this set clear expectations, but dissuades unsavory tenants from leasing your property because they know you will be around from time to time.
How often should you conduct occupied inspections of your rental property? We suggest at least once a year during the middle of the lease term. Inspect too often and you may find yourself infringing on the tenant’s legal right to quiet enjoyment of the property. However, if you conduct an inspection about three to four months after the tenant moves in, they will have had time to settle in and you’ll have things to be on the lookout for.
If you have questions or would like more information on the best practices for communicating with tenants or conducting routine occupied unit inspections, give our team a call. 303-255-1990
DID YOU KNOW: Colorado landlords are required by law to replace batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in their rental property, if requested by the tenant.