How To Conduct a Rental Property Inspection

December 5, 2022

As a property manager, you're probably familiar with move-out inspections, but do you conduct the other three kinds of inspections for rental properties? Carrying out regular inspections throughout the rental cycle is the best way to help you track the property's condition and avoid expensive surprises. We'll walk you through the four types of rental property inspections and share five best practices to make them easy and effective.  

Types of Rental Property Inspections Property Managers Perform

There are four types of rental property inspections that you will want to perform throughout the year to ensure your properties are in top condition:

  • Move-in inspections: Move-in inspections review the property's condition before tenants move in and set expectations for conditions when the lease ends. It's also an excellent time to take care of any repairs that may have gone unnoticed. It's best to do the move-in inspection with the tenant present, so they're aware of any issues and can verify the property's condition before you turn it over to them.
  • Move-out inspections: Move-out inspections compare the property's condition to how it was when the tenant took possession. If damages have occurred, they can be documented during this inspection and deducted from the tenant's security deposit as necessary. Try to schedule move-out inspections on the last day the tenants have access to the property so that no new damage occurs after the inspection.
  • Routine/annual inspections: Routine or annual inspections for rental properties let you periodically assess their condition. These should be conducted every three to six months so that you can stay on top of maintenance issues as they arise. Routine inspections also allow tenants to identify anything they may have noticed regarding the property's condition so that you can address it before it gets worse.
  • Drive-by inspections: Drive-by inspections are just that — you drive by to see if there are any issues outside of the property that might require further attention as part of a routine or annual inspection. This can include the exterior of buildings, fencing, hardscaping, and landscaping. Tenants don't need advance notice since you are not entering the property.

Each type of inspection assesses the property at a different stage of the rental life cycle and is equally important to finding and fixing problems before they fester.

Inspect Your Rental Property Following These Best Practices

We've distilled five best practices and common issues across the industry to help you develop and refine your inspection procedures. Integrate these practices into your property management software to make inspections simple and more effective.

Review Rental Property Inspection Laws and Lease Agreements

Check the terms of the lease and federal and local housing and rental laws to ensure that you comply with inspection requirements. Avoid surprises by making these conditions part of your inspection routine and flagging unique criteria in the property's portfolio within your property management software.

Provide Proper Notice and Reasoning

Give tenants prior notice before conducting an inspection. A good rule of thumb is at least a 48-hour notice, but requirements differ by lease and locale. You'll also want to tell them the purpose of the inspection and their role in it so they can be prepared to participate.

Create a Rental Inspection Checklist

Create an inspection checklist to ensure you are assessing all aspects of the property. The checklist should include information on every part of the property, both inside and out. This creates a written record of the property's condition that you can refer to as needed in the future.

Make Sure Everything Is Documented in an Inspection Report

Use the checklist to create an inspection report documenting everything you found during the inspection. You and the tenant should each sign the report to verify you both agree it accurately conveys the property's condition. Your property management software can make this a breeze by creating templates to convert checklists into inspection reports and electronically circulate them for review and signature.

Take Photos of Current Conditions

Use photos to document the property's current condition and attach them to the inspection report. Should disputes arise, photos can show how the property looked at a given moment. Likewise, if repairs are needed, photos can jump-start conversations with contractors. Take care to protect the tenant's privacy and avoid photographing people, pets, pictures, and valuable items.

The Importance of a Thorough Rental Property Inspection

Thorough inspections are critical to protecting the rental property owner's investment, the tenant's rights, and your reputation as a good steward of both. Carefully reviewing all aspects of your rental property's condition throughout the rental cycle helps you catch and address problems as they arise. Good documentation can also help you determine whether the landlord or tenant needs to foot the repair bill.

If you find property damage or neglect that exceeds normal wear and tear, the tenant may be required to pay for the repairs out of their security deposit. Should tenants dispute a charge, you can use prior inspection reports and photos to show how the property's condition changed over time and identify responsibility for the damage. Disputes are best handled in writing to ensure a record of proceedings and diffuse tensions.

Make Sure Your Rental Unit Is Properly Inspected With Tidy

Property management software makes conducting and documenting rental property inspections simple. Tidy's rental property inspection services incorporate all aspects of inspections into its comprehensive software, giving you easy-to-use real-time records at your fingertips. Its templates save you time, and its connections to local pros help you deliver the highest service standards for maintenance and cleaning.  

With Tidy, you get a birds-eye view of your business, including access to dashboards, reports, analysis, and more. Instead of chasing down files, you get more time to focus on running your business. Step up your property management game by working smarter, not harder, with Tidy.

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