It’s natural that all landlords should want to make sure their properties are being looked after and kept in good condition.
Therefore, it’s important to conduct inspections that are both thorough and in keeping with the law, to help achieve a harmonious relationship between landlord and tenants.
The main (and most obvious) reason for a property inspection is to check for any new signs of damage or deterioration, so that you can arrange to get things fixed where necessary.
However, your duties and limitations as a landlord may not be as immediately obvious as just checking for any signs of damage to your property.
Therefore, we have created an essential guide to help you swiftly conduct your property inspections.
What Should a Landlord Check When Inspecting a Property?
As a landlord, you have a duty to make sure your property is legally compliant and a safe place for your tenants to live. You will be looking to see if anything needs repairing or replacing and whether there is anything that might represent a danger to the tenant.
It’s also a great opportunity to check that the tenant isn’t doing anything that is in breach of the tenancy agreement. As well as this, inspections give you the perfect opportunity to check in with your tenants to make sure they are happy. You can use this opportunity to discuss and resolve any potential issues they might have.
We’ve separated our inspection check list into three distinct sections to help you:
- Statutory inspection checks
- Tenancy breaches
- Recording the Property’s Condition.
Statutory Inspection Checks
The checks in this section are required for health and safety:
- Fire Safety
- Test all smoke and CO alarms and replace batteries if necessary
- Make sure that escape routes are freely accessible and that the tenant knows where they are
- Make sure that all fire doors have clear access and can be opened
- Check that all supplied furniture is fire safe.
- Gas Safety
- Give the tenant a copy of the gas safety certificate before they move in
- Have every gas appliance, boiler and flue checked by a registered engineer annually
- Verify the property has hot water and the heating works.
- Electrical Safety
- Have a registered electrician carry out a professional check every five years.
- Illegal Activity
Sometimes the signs can be obvious… Drug use can be easy to spot through smell and the paraphernalia used.
- Tenants subletting
Your tenant might be looking to sublet your property without your knowledge or permission. Subletting can lead to overcrowding which has legal implications. Signs that your property might be being sublet include:
- A tenant claiming the people staying there are just guests
- Too many beds for the number of tenants.
Most tenancy agreements ban smoking as it can result in costly repairs which are timing consuming. The smell of cigarettes is easy to detect as it lingers and is hard to cover up. Even harder to hide are nicotine stains or worse burns.
Remind the tenant that they are ultimately responsible for returning the property in the same condition as at the start of the tenancy. If they don’t, they will have to pay for the damages.
- Undisclosed Pets
The government have changed their model tenancy agreement, making it easier for landlords and tenants to include well-behaved pets in their tenancy. However, many landlords still object to having a pet. If there is evidence of a pet at the property you should discuss this with your tenant.
Recording the Property’s Condition
- Damp and Mould
Condensation is the most common form of damp in rented properties. It occurs when excess moisture in the air comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a window. This can lead to mould growth and tends to be worse in winter because of the cooler temperatures.
Mould can represent a serious health hazard. It can be caused by the tenant not using ventilation or heating properly. If that’s the case you should discuss this with the tenant to find solutions. Check for:
- Flaking paint
- Mould spores
- Dark patches
- Unpleasant musty smells.
You should conduct a thorough check of all taps and plumbing for leaks and drips. Fix these before they develop into serious issues.
Burst pipes for instance can cause a great amount of water to flood into the property very quickly. Prevent these by keeping all plumbing in good condition.
- Pest Infestations
Depending on the rest, both property and health can be at risk with a pest infestation. For this reason, ensure your tenant alerts you regarding any possible infestation as soon as they notice it.
If a lack of cleanliness caused by the tenant is causing damage to the property, you should address it promptly. If you believe the standard of cleanliness is unreasonable you can suggest how it could be improved.
- Blocked Drains
Blocked drains are usually caused by fat, grease, hair and objects such as wet wipes or sanitary products. Where the tenant is responsible for these, talk to the tenant about their habits and discuss preventative measures. Although drains are the landlord’s statutory responsibility, tenants will be responsible for blockages they have caused.
How Often Should a Landlord Inspect a Property?
You don’t want to be constantly popping in on your tenants. Usually, the first couple of visits give you a feel for the tenants and this can determine how often you’ll need to visit.
However, it may be a good idea when you start the tenancy to agree on an inspection schedule. Quarterly (every three months) is a good amount of time between checks.
Giving Notice of an Inspection
Landlord have some rights of access, as per the Housing Act 1988. In accordance with tenant and landlord law, you’re required to give a minimum 24 hours’ notice before you visit, otherwise your tenants are within their legal rights to refuse you entry.
Can Tenants Refuse Access to the Property?
Be aware that you must have a genuine reason to ask for access. If you show up unexpectedly, tenants have the right to turn you away.
Read Now: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do As A Landlord
Entering the Property in an Emergency
Landlords can access a rental property in an emergency, without first seeking consent from the tenant. Examples of emergency scenarios include:
- Fire or gas leaks
- You strongly suspect the tenant is doing something illegal
- A neighbour reports a nasty smell of decay and you can’t get hold of the tenant
- A neighbour reports water pouring from the ceiling from your flat upstairs
- You need to carry out urgent structural repairs to the property.
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If you want to learn more about how to manage your properties and feel you can benefit from Keey’s services, take a look at what we can do for you.