Thursday, 16 May 2019

Should landlords bother inspecting their properties?

The short answer is that yes, a landlord should regularly inspect their properties to ensure they are in a good condition and that your tenants are happy in their home. There is of course a fine line between making this intrusive towards your tenants, so here’s an insight into my normal process:

A week after moving in I’ll give the tenants a courtesy call to ensure they’ve settled in ok and to check if there are any ‘teething issues’ they’ve discovered that needs attention.
When the rent comes in for the first time, I’ll send the tenants a text message thanking them and giving them peace of mind that their standing order payment was received ok. It also opens up a dialogue to ensure everything is running smoothly their end and that they’re happy in their new home.

If all goes smoothly, the first time I’ll re-visit the tenants and the property is after three months. Inspecting the property is obviously important at this stage to gain an idea as to how it is being treated by the tenants. But, it’s just as important to see how the property is treating the tenants too. Have they met the neighbours? Have the utilities been set-up? Are there any maintenance issues or potential improvements to make their home more comfortable (and their stay longer)? Testing the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms is also sensible, as is checking that the tenants are happy with how the appliances and heating function.

Whilst my tenants know they can call, text or e-mail me anytime, often they won’t bother me with minor maintenance issues until I visit them. Sure, I now need to fix a broken extractor fan at a property I visited this week that I knew nothing about (and the tenants hadn’t spotted). But that’s far better (and cheaper) than getting a phone call next Winter about the black mould in the bathroom caused by the excess moisture in the room.
Hopefully at this point your tenants have been paying their rent and are looking after the property. If not, now is the time to raise these concerns and what the consequences will be if their actions continue.

I’ll undertake a similar visit a few months later and then in most cases (where the rent is being paid and the property looked after) I’ll stretch the visits out to every four to six months. If there are any concerns with a particular property or set of tenants I’ll continue to visit quarterly. All this needs a little common-sense towards the type of property and the tenants, but don’t visit too frequently; not only is it intrusive to what is the tenants’ home, but it can be deemed as harassment if you’re visiting every month!

And a word of caution; don’t put off visiting your property just because the rent is always paid on time. Last year a landlord in Kent was in the news having not visited his property for 12 years because of this find thousands of empty cans and piles of rotting food in the flat when the tenants moved out because they couldn’t access the communal bins! It’s also a common ploy amongst criminal gangs to pay six or twelve months rent upfront on the agreement they be ‘left alone’.

So, whether you use a letting agent or self-manage your rental property, be sure someone visits the property and interacts with your tenants to ensure everything is running smoothly. If you’d like the burden of this task taken away from you by a competent letting agent, please get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.

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